[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 1 (Tuesday, January 3, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 45-52]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-33610]



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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2011-0103; 4500030113]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on 
a Petition To List Sierra Nevada Red Fox as Endangered or Threatened

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of petition finding and initiation of status review.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 
90-day finding on a petition to list Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes 
vulpes necator) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), and to designate critical 
habitat. Based on our review, we find that the petition presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that 
listing this subspecies may be warranted. Therefore, with the 
publication of this notice, we are initiating a review of the status of 
the subspecies to determine if listing Sierra Nevada red fox is 
warranted. To ensure that this status review is comprehensive, we are 
requesting scientific and commercial data and other information 
regarding this subspecies. Based on the status review, we will issue a 
12-month finding on the petition, which will address whether the 
petitioned action is warranted, as provided in section 4(b)(3)(B) of 
the Act.

DATES: To allow us adequate time to conduct this review, we request 
that we receive information on or before March 5, 2012. The deadline 
for submitting an electronic comment using the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal (see ADDRESSES section, below) is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on 
this date. After March 5, 2012, you must submit information directly to 
the Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT section below). Please note that we might not be able to 
address or incorporate information that we receive after the above 
requested date.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by one of the following methods:
    (1) Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter Docket No. 
FWS-R8-ES-2011-0103, which is the docket number for this action. Then 
click on the Search button. You may submit a comment by clicking on 
``Send a Comment or Submission.''
    (2) By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public 
Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2011-0103; Division of Policy and 
Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax 
Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all information we 
receive on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we 
will post any personal information you provide us (see the Request for 
Information section, below, for more details).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Karen Leyse, Sacramento Field Office 
Listing/Critical Habitat Coordinator, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, 
Sacramento, CA 95825; by telephone at (916) 414-6600; or by facsimile 
at (916) 414-6712. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf 
(TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 
(800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Request for Information

    When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial 
information indicating that listing a species may be warranted, we are 
required to promptly review the status of the species (status review). 
For the status review to be complete and based on the best available 
scientific and commercial information, we request information on Sierra 
Nevada red fox from governmental agencies, Native American tribes, the 
scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We 
seek information on:
    (1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
    (a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
    (b) Genetics and taxonomy;
    (c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
    (d) Historical and current population levels, and current and 
projected trends; and
    (e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species, its 
habitat, or both.
    (2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing 
determination for a species under section 4(a) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 
1531 et seq.), which are:
    (a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (c) Disease or predation;
    (d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
    (e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    If, after the status review, we determine that listing Sierra 
Nevada red fox is warranted, we will propose critical habitat (see 
definition in section 3(5)(A) of the Act) under section 4 of the Act, 
to the maximum extent prudent and determinable at the time we propose 
to list the species. Therefore, we also request data and information 
on:
    (1) What may constitute ``physical or biological features essential 
to the conservation of the species,'' within the geographical range 
currently occupied by the species;
    (2) Where these features are currently found;
    (3) Whether any of these features may require special management 
considerations or protection;
    (4) Specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the 
species that are ``essential for the conservation for the species''; 
and
    (5) What, if any, critical habitat you think we should propose for 
designation if the species is proposed for listing, and why such 
habitat meets the requirements of section 4 of the Act.
    Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as 
scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to 
verify any scientific or commercial information you include.
    Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action 
under consideration without providing supporting information, although 
noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 
4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any 
species is an endangered or threatened species must be made ``solely on 
the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.''
    You may submit your information concerning this status review by 
one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. If you submit information via 
http://www.regulations.gov, your entire submission--including any 
personal identifying information--will be posted on the Web site. If 
your submission is made via a hardcopy that includes personal 
identifying information, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this personal identifying information from public 
review. However, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. We 
will

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post all hardcopy submissions on http://www.regulations.gov.
    Information and supporting documentation that we received and used 
in preparing this finding is available for you to review at http://www.regulations.gov, or by appointment during normal business hours at 
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on 
whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents 
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the 
petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on 
information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted 
with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To 
the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 
days of our receipt of the petition and publish our notice of the 
finding promptly in the Federal Register.
    Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information 
within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day 
petition finding is ``that amount of information that would lead a 
reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition 
may be warranted'' (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial 
scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to 
promptly conduct a species status review, which we subsequently 
summarize in our 12-month finding.

Petition History

    On April 27, 2011, we received a petition dated April 27, 2011, 
from the Center for Biological Diversity, requesting that Sierra Nevada 
red fox be listed as endangered or threatened, and that critical 
habitat be designated under the Act. The petition clearly identified 
itself as such and included the requisite identification information 
for the petitioner, as required by 50 CFR 424.14(a). In a May 24, 2011, 
letter to the petitioner, we responded that we reviewed the information 
presented in the petition and determined that issuing an emergency 
regulation temporarily listing the species under section 4(b)(7) of the 
Act was not warranted. We also stated that we were required to complete 
a significant number of listing and critical habitat actions in Fiscal 
Year 2011 pursuant to court orders, judicially approved settlement 
agreements, and other statutory deadlines, but that we had secured 
funding for Fiscal Year 2011 to allow publication of a finding in the 
Federal Register in early Fiscal Year 2012. This finding addresses the 
petition.

Species Information

    Sierra Nevada red fox is classified in the mammalian order 
Carnivora, family Canidae, and is one of 10 subspecies of red fox 
recognized in North America (Larivi[eacute]re and Pashitschniak-Arts 
1996, pp. 1-2; Aubry 1997, p. 55). The Sierra Nevada red fox can be 
distinguished from other red fox subspecies based on morphology, 
coloration, and habitat use (Roest 1977, p. 13). The Sierra Nevada red 
fox was first described by Merriam (1900, as cited in Roest 1977, p. 1) 
as the species Vulpes necator, but was considered by Grinnell et al. 
(1937, p. 377) to be a subspecies of the red fox. The scientific 
community continues to recognize the Sierra Nevada red fox as a 
subspecies (Roest 1977, p. 1; Larivi[eacute]re and Pashitschniak-Arts 
1996, pp. 1-2; Aubry 1997, p. 55; Sachs et al. 2010, p. 1542). 
Therefore, we accept the classification of the Sierra Nevada red fox as 
a subspecies of the red fox.
    The red fox is a relatively small canid with an elongated snout, 
large ears, slender legs and body, and a bushy tail with a white tip 
(Larivi[eacute]re and Pashitschniak-Arts 1996, p. 2; Aubry 1997, p. 
55). Sierra Nevada red fox is typically red, but can occur in black or 
silver phases (Grinnell et al. 1937, p. 377; Roest 1977, p. 1), and is 
generally smaller than other red fox subspecies in North America 
(California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) 1987, p. 3).
    Historically, Sierra Nevada red fox occupied high-elevation areas 
of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges in California 
(Zielinski et al. 2005, p. 1389), ranging from Tulare County north to 
Sierra County, and from the vicinity of Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta west 
to the Trinity Mountains in Trinity County (Grinnell et al. 1937, p. 
381). However, a recent study by Sachs et al. (2010, p. 1536) indicates 
that the historical range of Sierra Nevada red fox includes the 
southern Cascade mountain range in Oregon, as far north as the Columbia 
River. The current distribution of Sierra Nevada red fox is believed to 
be restricted to two small populations: one in the vicinity of Lassen 
Peak (Perrine 2005, p. 105; California Natural Diversity Database 
(CNDDB) 2011, pp. 54-60) and the other in the vicinity of Sonora Pass 
(Perrine et al. 2010, notes in proof; CNDDB 2011, pp. 54-60). Although 
its entire historical range was not surveyed, systematic surveys by 
Zielinski et al. (2005, p. 62010, p1389) failed to detect Sierra Nevada 
red fox. The U.S. Forest Service recently conducted carnivore surveys 
on National Forest System lands throughout the Sierra Nevada using 
track plates and remotely triggered cameras, but Sierra Nevada red fox 
were detected only in the Lassen National Forest and Humboldt-Toiyabe 
National Forest (Perrine et al. 2010, notes in proof and p. 8). Current 
population levels of Sierra Nevada red fox are unknown, but the 
subspecies is believed to occur at very low density (Perrine et al. 
2010, p. 9).
    While the red fox is one of the most studied carnivores, little is 
known about Sierra Nevada red fox ecology (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 14). 
Sierra Nevada red fox is one of three high-elevation montane subspecies 
referred to as mountain foxes (Aubry 1997, p. 55). It is found in 
alpine and subalpine habitats typically above 1,525 meters (m) (5,000 
feet (ft)) elevation, including meadows, dense mature forests, talus 
(rocks accumulated at the base of a cliff, chute, or slope), and fell 
fields (treeless rock-strewn areas dominated by scattered plants or 
grasses) (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 18; CNDDB 2011, pp. 1-60). Radio 
telemetry data indicate that Sierra Nevada red fox are most active at 
dusk and at night (Perrine 2005, p. 114). Habitat use by Sierra Nevada 
red fox varies seasonally. During the summer (generally June to 
November (Perrine 2005, p. 160)), they prefer barren, high-elevation 
habitats (Perrine 2005, p. 137) and utilize high-elevation shrub and 
conifer communities in proportion to their availability (Perrine 2005, 
p. 161). During the winter (generally November to June (Perrine 2005, 
p. 160)), they are associated with mature closed-canopy forest (Perrine 
2005, p. 163) and preferentially select forested areas for travel, 
possibly to avoid deep snow (Benson et al. 2005, p. 128). A study of 
Sierra Nevada red fox in the vicinity of Lassen Peak suggests that the 
subspecies requires large home ranges averaging 2,323 hectares (ha) 
(5,740 acres (ac)), with individual home ranges ranging from 262 ha 
(647 ac) to 6,981 ha (17,250 ac) (Perrine 2005, p. 137). The Sierra 
Nevada red fox demonstrates seasonal elevation migration, moving to 
lower elevations during the winter months (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 21), 
presumably to areas where prey are more readily available due to lower 
snow depths (Perrine 2005, p. 146). Sierra Nevada red fox, like other 
red fox in North America, appear to be opportunistic predators and 
foragers, with a diet primarily composed of small rodents (Perrine et 
al. 2010, p. 24).
    Little is known about Sierra Nevada red fox reproductive biology. 
Other red fox subspecies are predominately

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monogamous and mate over several weeks in the late winter and early 
spring (Aubry 1997, p. 57). The gestation period for red fox is 51 to 
53 days, with birth occurring from March through May in sheltered dens. 
Sierra Nevada red fox have been documented to use natural openings in 
rock slides, talus, and riven (broken) granite as denning sites 
(Grinnell et al. 1937, p. 394), and it is likely that earthen dens are 
also used (Aubry 1997, p. 58). Grinnell et al. (1937, p. 394) reports 
that litter size averages six pups with a range of three to nine pups; 
however, recent evidence suggests that litter sizes of two to three is 
more typical (Perrine 2005, p. 152). The pups are weaned by 8 to 10 
weeks of age, begin exploring their parents' home range by 12 weeks, 
and disperse in the early fall when fully grown (Perrine et al. 2010, 
pp. 14-15).

Evaluation of Information for This Finding

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing 
regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth the procedures for adding a 
species to, or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered 
and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be 
an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five 
factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act:
    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or 
curtailment of its habitat or range;
    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes;
    (C) Disease or predation;
    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued 
existence.
    In considering what factors might constitute threats, we must look 
beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine 
whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual 
impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no 
response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If 
there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may 
be a threat and we then attempt to determine how significant a threat 
it is. If the threat is significant, it may drive or contribute to the 
risk of extinction of the species such that the species may warrant 
listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined by the 
Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The 
combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the 
species is likely impacted could suffice. The mere identification of 
factors that could impact a species negatively may not be sufficient to 
compel a finding that listing may be warranted. The information shall 
contain evidence sufficient to suggest that these factors may be 
operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species 
may meet the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act.
    In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information 
regarding threats to Sierra Nevada red fox, as presented in the 
petition and other information available in our files, is substantial, 
thereby indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. Our 
evaluation of this information is presented below.

A. The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment 
of Its Habitat or Range

    The petition asserts that Sierra Nevada red fox habitat is 
threatened by logging, fire suppression, domestic livestock grazing, 
and recreation, including over-snow vehicle (OSV) (such as snowmobile) 
and off-road vehicle (ORV) use. The petition also states that the 
structural changes associated with logging and fire suppression 
activities could facilitate invasion by coyotes and nonnative red fox, 
resulting in increased competition, predation, and possible 
interbreeding with nonnative red fox (Center for Biological Diversity 
2011, pp. 18 and 22). Predation related to logging is discussed under 
Factor C, while competition and interbreeding is discussed under Factor 
E.
Logging--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition claims that logging has reduced the extent of old 
conifer forest by 82 percent within the southern Cascade mountains and 
by 79 percent within the eastern Cascade mountain forests, with similar 
reductions in the Sierra Nevada (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, 
p. 18). Perrine (2005, p. 137) found that Sierra Nevada red fox 
detections were positively associated with dense, mature, mid-elevation 
forests exhibiting canopy cover greater than 40 percent and trees 
larger than 60 centimeters (cm) (23.6 inches (in)) diameter at breast 
height. Winter home ranges of Sierra Nevada red fox are dominated by 
Sierran mixed conifer, red and white fir communities in which fox use 
the cavities under logs and trees, and tree wells (area of loose or no 
snow around the trunk of a tree), as day rest sites (Perrine 2005, p. 
146; Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 17). The petitioners 
state that the removal of the large trees that form tree wells or that 
fall and provide cavities that Sierra Nevada red fox use as day rests, 
as well as the structural changes of forest complexity associated with 
logging, render habitats less suitable for Sierra Nevada red fox 
(Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 17-18).
Logging--Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and 
Available in Service Files
    Approximately 80 percent of Sierra Nevada red fox's range occurs on 
National Forest System Lands (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 
11). Historical logging activities in the Sierra Nevada have resulted 
in the reduction of habitat that may be used by the Sierra Nevada red 
fox. Prior to logging in the Sierra Nevada, suitable forested habitat 
was projected to occur on 55 percent of National Forest lands, while 
logging reduced the suitable habitat to 13 percent of National Forest 
lands (SNEP 1996, p. 99). The largest extant population of Sierra 
Nevada red fox occurs in the vicinity of Lassen Peak within both Lassen 
National Park and Lassen National Forest. Lassen National Forest 
currently has planned fuels treatment projects that may affect 
approximately 19,584 ha (48,392 ac), including approximately 929 ha 
(2,296 ac) that contain habitat suitable for red fox (USDA Forest 
Service 2009, pp. 509-510). Although forested habitats utilized by 
Sierra Nevada red fox have historically undergone logging or fuels 
treatment activities, and future treatment is planned in suitable 
habitat that may be occupied by the fox, neither the petition nor our 
files contain information about potential ongoing or future threats 
that may occur as a result of logging activities. Although the 
information does not support the petitioner's assertions on this 
subject, we will further consider effects that logging may have on the 
subspecies' habitat in our status review.
Fire Suppression--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition asserts that fire suppression activities impact the 
natural role of fire in developing the habitat components used by 
Sierra Nevada red fox (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 22). 
The petition also states that forest openings, fell fields, and early-
seral (period from disturbance to crown closure of conifer stands) 
post-fire habitats are important components for Sierra Nevada red fox 
as these areas provide habitat for a majority of the fox's prey base 
(Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 22). Finally, the petition 
claims that fire suppression

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activities may result in direct impacts to Sierra Nevada red fox, as 
well as alter and fragment the structure of the habitat. The potential 
for fire suppression activities to directly impact Sierra Nevada red 
fox individuals is addressed under Factor E below.
Fire Suppression--Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition 
and Available in Service Files
    We do not have any information in our files, nor does the petition 
provide specific information, on the reduction or fragmentation of 
foraging habitat for Sierra Nevada red fox due to fire suppression. The 
petition also does not document that wildfire is necessary to create or 
maintain this foraging habitat. While the petition does provide general 
information about historical fire intervals in the Sierra Nevada, it 
does not provide any specific information about fire intervals or the 
likelihood of future fires within Sierra Nevada red fox's current 
range. Although the information does not support the petitioner's 
assertions on this subject, we will further consider effects that fire 
suppression activities may have on the subspecies' habitat in our 
status review.
Domestic Livestock Grazing
    The petition states that domestic livestock grazing impacts Sierra 
Nevada red fox foraging habitat by removing the vegetative habitat 
components that support their prey (Center for Biological Diversity 
2011, p. 20). Because the information presented in the petition is 
related more closely to prey availability than Sierra Nevada red fox 
habitat, the threat from domestic livestock grazing will be discussed 
below in Factor E.
Recreation--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition asserts that recreational activities (including OSV, 
ORV, dirt bike activity, hiking, and camping) can degrade Sierra Nevada 
red fox habitat, interfere with normal behavior, and cause shifts in 
habitat use. The petition did not include any information on the 
habitat alteration other than to state that habitat degradation occurs. 
All recreational impacts presented in the petition are related to 
direct impacts to the subspecies, such as death, injury, increased 
competition, or behavioral changes, which are discussed under Factor E.
Recreation--Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and 
Available in Service Files
    We do not have any information in our files, nor does the petition 
provide any information, on the degradation of Sierra Nevada red fox 
habitat due to recreation.
    Although the information does not support the petitioner's 
assertions on this subject, we will further consider effects that 
recreation may have on the subspecies' habitat in our status review.
Factor A Summary
    The petitioner states that Sierra Nevada red fox habitat is 
threatened by logging, fire suppression, domestic livestock grazing, 
and recreation (including OSV and ORV use). While the petition provides 
information about historical impacts to habitat from logging and fire 
suppression, it does not provide any information about current or 
future threats due to logging and fire suppression practices within the 
subspecies' range. Our files contain some information about proposed 
fuels treatment projects on the Lassen National Forest that would be 
within the subspecies' range. However, we have no information available 
in the petition or our files to indicate that Sierra Nevada red fox 
individuals or populations respond negatively to habitat impacts 
resulting from logging and fire suppression, nor do we have information 
regarding potential ongoing or future threats that may occur as a 
result of these activities. Although the information does not support 
the petitioner's assertions about activities discussed above, we will 
further investigate whether the present or threatened destruction, 
modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range is threatening the 
subspecies in our status review.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes.

Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition asserts that Sierra Nevada red fox is threatened by 
accidental capture or poaching in California, Oregon, and Nevada, and 
by legal trapping in Oregon and Nevada (Center for Biological Diversity 
2011, pp. 24-25).
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files
    Sierra Nevada red fox's current range is restricted to two areas of 
California (Perrine 2005, p. 105; CNDDB 2011, pp. 54-60), a State in 
which hunting for Sierra Nevada red fox is prohibited (Title 14 
California Code of Regulations Section 460). California does allow 
hunting and trapping of other furbearing animals, and it is possible 
that Sierra Nevada red fox could be accidentally trapped (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, p. 25). However, neither the petition nor 
Service files present any evidence of incidental killing of Sierra 
Nevada red fox while trapping other furbearers. Trapping of Sierra 
Nevada red fox is allowed in the adjacent States of Oregon and Nevada; 
however, Sierra Nevada red fox is not known to occur in these States.
Factor B Summary
    The information provided in the petition and in our files does not 
indicate that any impact from overutilization is occurring to Sierra 
Nevada red fox. However, we will further investigate overutilization 
for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes in 
our status review for this subspecies.

C. Disease or Predation

    The petition states that Sierra Nevada red fox is threatened by 
salmon poisoning disease, disease transmission by domestic dogs, and 
increased coyote predation due to recreation activities, logging, and 
fire suppression activities in logged forests (Center for Biological 
Diversity 2011, pp. 21-28).
Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD)--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition states that Sierra Nevada red fox are threatened by 
salmon poisoning disease (SPD), which is found in wild populations of 
salmonid fish in northern California, Oregon, and Washington, but also 
could be spread to other areas through fish stocking, and is fatal to 
dogs, foxes, and other canids (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 
25). Salmon poisoning disease is caused by Neorickettsia helminthoeca, 
a bacteria that can be carried by trout and salmon. If an infected fish 
is ingested by a dog or other canid, the bacteria can result in fever, 
anorexia, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea, with a 90 percent mortality 
rate if untreated (Rikihisa et al. 1991, p. 1928). The disease has also 
been detected in at least three State hatcheries and four private farms 
in northern California (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 28).
    If infected trout and salmon are present in waters within Sierra 
Nevada red fox's current range and Sierra Nevada red fox consume 
infected fish, the likelihood of red fox mortality is high (Perrine et 
al. 2010, p. 28). The petition provides a list of 47 water bodies 
within the subspecies' approximate current range that were stocked with 
trout or salmon by CDFG between 2002 and 2006 (Center for Biological 
Diversity 2011, Appendix B). The petitioner indicates that potential

[[Page 49]]

exposure of the Sierra Nevada red fox to infected fish is a threat to 
the subspecies.
    The petition also claims that the risk of Sierra Nevada red fox 
exposure to SPD is increased by fire retardant use (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, p. 28). Fire retardants are used on National 
Forest lands to combat wildfires. Exposure of fish to these retardants 
is known to result in substantial fish kills (USFWS 2008, p. 30). While 
the risk is small, if fire retardants were used in an SPD-infected 
waterway within the current range of the subspecies, the threat of SPD 
to Sierra Nevada red fox would be increased by the fox foraging on dead 
fish.
Salmon Poisoning Disease (SPD)--Evaluation of Information Provided in 
the Petition and Available in Service Files
    SPD has been documented in both hatchery and wild salmonids in 
northern California (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 28). In order to limit the 
spread of SPD beyond this area, CDFG does not allow salmonids from 
their northern California hatcheries to be stocked south of the Feather 
River (Beale 2011, pers. comm.). The Sierra Nevada red fox population 
in the Sonora Pass area is located far to the south of the Feather 
River, where the potential for stocking infected fish does not exist. 
Therefore, only the fox population in the vicinity of Lassen Peak has 
the potential to be impacted by SPD. Because SPD has been documented in 
both hatchery and wild fish populations in northern California (Perrine 
et al. 2010, p. 28), it is likely that this disease occurs within the 
range of the Sierra Nevada red fox. Within the area where the disease 
occurs, Sierra Nevada red fox may be exposed to infected fish as the 
result of scavenging for dead fish, misapplication of aerial fish 
stocking, or the use of dead salmonids as bait for camera stations 
(Perrine et al. 2010, p. 28).
    Although salmonid mortality from the use of fire retardants could 
potentially increase exposure of Sierra Nevada red fox to SPD, current 
guidelines minimize exposure of salmonids to fire retardants. The 
aerial application of fire retardant by the U.S. Forest Service is 
governed by guidelines that provide for a 91-m (300-ft) buffer around 
all aquatic features (USDA Forest Service 2011a, p. 7). Additionally, 
based on calculations of misapplication over the past 3 years, there is 
a 0.42 percent chance of fire retardant being applied to aquatic 
features (USDA Forest Service 2011a, p. 104). Although mortality of 
salmonids due to fire retardant application may be high, the likelihood 
that fire retardant will cause the mortality of salmonids infected by 
SPD and that Sierra Nevada red fox will consume the dead infected fish 
is extremely low. Therefore, we do not anticipate that the use of fire 
retardants will appreciably contribute to the spread of the disease.
    Given the high mortality associated with SPD disease in canids, and 
the potential pathways for exposure of Sierra Nevada red fox to SPD as 
the result of fish stocking in the Lassen National Forest area, we find 
that the information provided in the petition, as well as other 
information in our files, presents substantial scientific or commercial 
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted due 
to transmission of SPD. We will review the possible effects of SPD to 
Sierra Nevada red fox more thoroughly in our 12-month status review.
Domestic Dog Predation and Disease--Information Provided in the 
Petition
    The petition asserts that exposure of Sierra Nevada red fox to 
domestic dogs places them at risk of attack, death, or diseases such as 
rabies, sarcoptic mange, canine distemper, and parvovirus (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, p. 28).
    The petition asserts that the risk of domestic dog predation and 
disease is associated with the presence of roads and recreational sites 
within the subspecies' range (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 
22). Pierre et al. (2010, p. 28) found that road development and 
recreational sites within the Sierra Nevada red fox's range increases 
the risk of interaction with domestic pets and exposure to diseases.
Domestic Dog Predation and Disease--Evaluation of Information Provided 
in the Petition and Available in Service Files
    Diseases commonly associated with domestic dogs have been 
documented in other subspecies of red fox, and can be fatal (Little et 
al. 1998, p. 623). Both Lassen National Park and Lassen National Forest 
contain recreation areas that are within the Sierra Nevada red fox's 
current range (Perrine 2005, p. 149; USDA Forest Service 2009, p. 510). 
A number of documented sightings have occurred in campgrounds, in 
parking areas, and along roads in Lassen National Park where Sierra 
Nevada red foxes have begged for food from humans (Perrine 2005, p. 
28). The use of these areas by humans and their domestic dogs increases 
the risk of transmitting diseases such as canine distemper, rabies, and 
sarcoptic mange to Sierra Nevada red fox (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 28), 
leading to a decreased level of fitness and potential mortality. In a 
radiotelemetry study of Sierra Nevada red fox in the Lassen Peak area, 
Perrine (2005, p. 141) documented mortality of three collared 
individuals, attributing the death of one directly to a dog attack. 
Given that the Sierra Nevada red fox populations are believed to be 
small in number and restricted to two locations (Perrine 2005, p. 105; 
CNDDB 2011, pp. 54-60), an outbreak of canine distemper or other lethal 
disease, as well as predation by domestic dogs, could have a 
population-level impact. Therefore, we conclude that there is 
substantial information in the petition and in our files to indicate 
that attacks and transmission of disease from domestic dogs may be a 
threat to Sierra Nevada red fox.
Coyote Predation--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition claims that changes in forest structure resulting from 
logging, recreation, and fire suppression facilitate the movement of 
coyotes into the Sierra Nevada red fox's range (Center for Biological 
Diversity 2011, pp. 18-22). The petition further claims that increased 
presence of coyotes could result in increased predation upon Sierra 
Nevada red fox, thus potentially reducing their population and 
reproductive success.
Coyote Predation--Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition 
and Available in Service Files
    The petition does not provide any information, nor do we have any 
in our files, to indicate that changes in forest structure resulting 
from logging, recreation, and fire suppression facilitate the movement 
of coyotes into the Sierra Nevada red fox's range. The abundance and 
distribution of coyotes has been demonstrated to affect the 
distribution of the red fox in North Dakota (Sargeant et al. 1987, p. 
291), and, although no predation of red fox by coyotes was observed in 
this study, numerous accounts of coyotes predating upon red fox have 
been documented (Sargeant and Allen 1989, p. 631). In the Lassen Peak 
area, Perrine (2005, pp. 83-84) documented range overlap of Sierra 
Nevada red fox and coyotes, especially in summer habitat use. As 
coyotes are known to prey upon foxes and occur in areas occupied by the 
Sierra Nevada red fox, predation of the Sierra Nevada red fox by 
coyotes is likely. Because the subspecies is believed to occur at a 
very low density (Perrine et al. 2010, p. 9), predation by coyotes 
could significantly impact the population. Therefore, we conclude that 
there is substantial information in our files to indicate that

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coyote predation may be a threat to Sierra Nevada red fox. We will 
review the possible effects of coyote predation on Sierra Nevada red 
fox more thoroughly in our 12-month status review.
Factor C Summary
    The petition states that Sierra Nevada red fox is threatened by 
SPD, disease transmission by domestic dogs, and increased coyote 
predation in logged forests. The information contained in the petition 
and in our files indicates that SPD has been found in California and 
has the potential to be introduced to water bodies within the 
subspecies' range. In addition, diseases carried by domestic dogs are 
known to kill red fox, and the petition provides information about the 
presence of Sierra Nevada red fox at recreational sites where they 
could interact with humans and their pets. While the Perrine (2005, pp. 
1-191) study did not document the predation of Sierra Nevada red fox by 
coyotes, coyotes are known to kill and prey upon red fox in other 
areas, and there is range overlap between Sierra Nevada red fox and 
coyotes. In summary, we find that the information presented in the 
petition and in our files presents substantial information indicating 
that the petitioned action may be warranted due to the threat of 
disease or predation.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition asserts that Sierra Nevada red fox are threatened by 
inadequate regulatory mechanisms, such as the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Sierra Nevada Forest 
Plan Amendment (SNFPA), the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP), climate 
change initiatives, the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), as 
well as Oregon and California hunting regulations (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 28-32).
    The petition states that NEPA requires a Federal agency to analyze 
the impacts of proposed activities on Sierra Nevada red fox, but does 
not require the agency to select an alternative with the least impacts 
to the subspecies, nor require the agency to mitigate project impacts 
(Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 32). The petition asserts 
that the SNFPA provides an outline of discretionary measures that the 
U.S. Forest Service may implement for the protection of Sierra Nevada 
red fox; however, discretionary actions are not adequate to protect 
Sierra Nevada red fox because National Forests are managed for multiple 
resource objectives (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 32). 
Further, the petition asserts that the NWFP does not specifically 
address the protection of Sierra Nevada red fox, but relies on the 
protection of other species that may incidentally provide protection to 
Sierra Nevada red fox (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 32).
    The petition asserts that the climate change initiatives are 
insufficient, including California's Global Warming Solutions Act of 
2006, the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), the Energy Policy and 
Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.), the Clean Water Act (33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq.), and the international United Nations Framework 
Convention on Climate Change. The petition claims that these 
initiatives are inadequate due to a lack of implementation (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 30-32).
    The petition claims that the CESA is an inadequate regulatory 
mechanism because it does not provide adequate protections for Sierra 
Nevada red fox against logging, livestock grazing, recreation, and 
other human disturbance (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 29). 
The threats of logging, livestock grazing, recreation, and other human 
disturbance are addressed under Factors A, C, and E. The petition also 
claims that the Oregon furbearer, trapping, and hunting regulations, 
and the California hunting regulations, provide inadequate regulatory 
mechanisms for Sierra Nevada red fox (Center for Biological Diversity 
2011, p. 31). These State hunting and trapping regulations address 
overutilization for commercial or recreational purposes, and were 
addressed under Factor B above.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files
    The petition provides basic information regarding a number of 
possible regulatory mechanisms, such as NEPA, SNFPA, NWFP and CESA. It 
is not clear from the information provided in the petition or available 
in our files that these possible regulatory mechanisms are inadequate 
to reduce the possible threats of disease and predation (see Factor C) 
or other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence 
(see Factor E).
Factor D Summary
    The information provided in the petition and in our files does not 
indicate that any impact from the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms is occurring to Sierra Nevada red fox. However, we will 
further investigate the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms in 
our status review for this subspecies.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence

    The petition asserts that the following Factor E impacts threaten 
Sierra Nevada red fox: Invasion of Sierra Nevada red fox habitat by 
coyotes and nonnative red foxes, competition with coyotes and nonnative 
red foxes, domestic livestock grazing, recreation, small population 
size, and climate change (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 18, 
22-32).
Invasion by and Competition with Coyote and Nonnative Red Foxes--
Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition asserts that Sierra Nevada red fox is threatened by 
competition for prey with coyotes and nonnative red foxes and increased 
interbreeding with nonnative red foxes, both of which are facilitated 
by logging, fire suppression activities, and recreation (Center for 
Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 18, 22-32). The petition also asserts 
that fire suppression activities may result in the direct mortality or 
injury of Sierra Nevada red fox (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, 
p. 22).
Invasion by and Competition With Coyote and Nonnative Red Foxes--
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in 
Service Files
    We do not have any information in our files, nor does the petition 
provide specific information, on how logging, fire suppression 
activities, or recreation has the potential to facilitate invasion by 
coyote and nonnative foxes, nor is there any evidence that this 
facilitation has occurred. Information contained within our files does 
not indicate that competition with nonnative red foxes or interbreeding 
is a concern for Sierra Nevada red fox, as there is no indication of 
range overlap with any other fox species. Neither the petition nor our 
files contain any evidence of fire suppression activities resulting in 
the direct mortality of individual Sierra Nevada red foxes.
    Coyotes and Sierra Nevada red fox have been documented to have 
overlapping summer habitat ranges in the Lassen Peak area (Perrine 
2005, pp. 83-84). Winter habitat use by the fox does not correlate 
closely with that of the coyote (Perrine 2005, p. 83), presumably 
because of snow depths and competition for prey (Perrine 2005, p. 40-
41), resulting in decreased prey

[[Page 51]]

availability in winter months. Competition for prey between coyote and 
fox is potentially exacerbated by low prey availability in the area of 
Lassen Peak (USDA Forest Service 2009, p. 506). Sargeant et al. (1987, 
p. 291) determined that the distribution and abundance of red fox are 
affected by the distribution and abundance of coyote. Sargeant and 
Allen (1983, pp. 631-632) documented the interactions between coyotes 
and other subspecies of red fox, discovering that coyote will 
frequently chase foxes and kill them, often not utilizing them as prey. 
As there is substantial range overlap between coyotes and Sierra Nevada 
red fox, there is likely competition for prey items; additionally, 
because coyotes are known to kill red foxes, we find that the petition 
and information in our files present substantial information to 
indicate that interaction with coyotes may be a threat to Sierra Nevada 
red fox.
Domestic Livestock Grazing--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition states that domestic livestock grazing impacts the 
Sierra Nevada red fox's foraging habitat by removing the vegetative 
habitat components that support its prey (Center for Biological 
Diversity 2011, p. 20). For example, the petition cites a number of 
studies that found that high levels of livestock grazing can reduce the 
density and biomass of a number of prey species, such as rodents and 
birds (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 20-21). The petition 
also claims that the use of rodenticides associated with domestic 
cattle grazing may also reduce the availability of small prey species 
in grazed areas (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 21).
Domestic Livestock Grazing--Evaluation of Information Provided in the 
Petition and Available in Service Files
    The petition provides some evidence that livestock grazing may 
alter the availability of some prey species for Sierra Nevada red fox. 
While grazing may result in a decrease in populations of some prey 
species, grazing has been demonstrated to increase populations of other 
potential prey species (Ratliff 1985, as cited in Perrin et al. 2010, 
p. 29). Therefore, there is evidence that grazing may not reduce prey 
availability overall, but rather cause a shift in prey species (Perrine 
et al. 2010, p. 29). While the petition asserts rodenticide use 
associated with cattle grazing causes a reduction in the availability 
of prey for Sierra Nevada red fox, the widespread use of rodenticides 
on public lands as it relates to grazing has been outlawed (Perrine et 
al. 2010, p. 29). Sierra Nevada red fox utilizes a wide variety of prey 
species (Perrine 2005, p. 40-41), and there is no information 
indicating that the use of rodenticides associated with grazing is 
responsible for a reduction in available prey. Therefore, the 
information presented in the petition and available in our files does 
not support the petitioner's claim that domestic livestock grazing as 
it relates to reduced prey may be a threat to the subspecies. However, 
we will further investigate the potential impacts of domestic livestock 
grazing in our status review for this subspecies.
Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) and Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Use--Information 
Provided in the Petition
    The petition claims that OSV and ORV use have the potential to 
result in direct mortality to Sierra Nevada red fox through vehicle 
strikes (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 23-24). In addition, 
the petition asserts that noise and visual disturbance from the use of 
OSVs and ORVs in winter and spring disrupt mating and breeding behavior 
(Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 23-24). The petition also 
claims that OSVs negatively impact the prey base of Sierra Nevada red 
fox by compacting subnivean (beneath the snow layer) spaces that small 
mammals use in the winter (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 
23).
Over-Snow Vehicle (OSV) and Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) Use--Evaluation of 
Information Provided in the Petition and Available in Service Files
    Recreation areas for both OSVs and ORVs occur in the vicinity of 
known Sierra Nevada red fox populations in both the Lassen Peak and 
Sonora Pass areas (USDA Forest Service 2009, p. 510; 2011b, p. 29), and 
OSV and ORV use in these areas has the potential to interfere with 
reproduction and foraging behavior due to noise and visual disturbance 
(Center for Biological Diversity 2010, p. 23; USDA Forest Service 2009, 
p. 510; 2011b, p. 29). Additionally, according to the U.S. Department 
of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the compaction of snow attributed 
to OSVs is likely to result in a decrease in subnivean species utilized 
as prey by the fox (USDA Forest Service 2011b, p. 29). While the 
response of Sierra Nevada red fox to OSVs and ORVs is largely 
undocumented, studies involving other mammalian species have 
demonstrated noise disturbance attributed to OSVs and ORVs has resulted 
in elevated heart rates and glucocorticoid stress levels, increased 
energy expenditure, interference with reproduction and foraging 
behavior, and direct or indirect mortality (Baker and Buthmann 2005, 
pp. 15-16; Center for Biological Diversity 2011, pp. 23-24; Creel et 
al. 2002, pp. 811-812; Ouren et al. 2007, pp. 16, 19). Given that 
populations of the Sierra Nevada red fox overlap with OSV and ORV use 
areas, the negative responses of other mammal species to OSVs and ORVs, 
and the potential reduction in the fox's winter prey base, we find the 
petition presents substantial information that the petitioned action 
may be warranted due to OSV and ORV use.
Vulnerability of Small Isolated Populations--Information Provided in 
the Petition
    The petition asserts that the small population size of Sierra 
Nevada red fox magnifies the potential for extinction of the subspecies 
due to the other threats impacting it (Center for Biological Diversity 
2011, p. 33). The petition states that the population size of Sierra 
Nevada red fox in the vicinity of Lassen peak is believed to consist of 
fewer than 50 individuals, likely as few as 15 (Center for Biological 
Diversity 2011, p. 33). Inherent threats related to small population 
size include the chance of extinction due to stochastic (random, 
unpredictable) events (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 33), 
such as genetic drift, demographic fluctuations related to mating and 
survival, environmental conditions, and local catastrophes (Lacey 1997, 
p. 329).
Vulnerability of Small Isolated Populations--Evaluation of Information 
Provided in the Petition and Available in Service Files
    Perrine's (2005, pp. 1-195) radiotelemetry study that covered a 
portion of the Lassen Peak area was limited to a sample size of five 
individual Sierra Nevada red foxes, which likely represented the entire 
fox population within the 311.5-square-kilometer (120.3-square-mile) 
study area (Perrine 2005, p. 135). The recently detected Sierra Nevada 
red fox population in the Sonora Pass area includes only three 
confirmed individuals to date (CNDDB 2011, pp. 54-60); however, there 
are no current estimates of population size. Events (such as disease 
outbreaks, reproductive failure, or a combination of several events) 
could destroy a portion of either of the two populations or an entire 
population. The loss of individual Sierra Nevada red fox could further 
increase the risk of extirpation resulting from the genetic and 
demographic problems inherent to small populations (Lacey 1997, pp. 
329, 331). Based on the

[[Page 52]]

information presented in the petition and our files indicating that few 
animals exist in only two populations, paired with the risk of 
catastrophic events (such as disease; see Factor C), we conclude that 
substantial information exists to indicate that Sierra Nevada red fox 
could be threatened by vulnerabilities of small populations.
Climate Change--Information Provided in the Petition
    The petition claims that anthropogenic climate change poses a 
significant threat to Sierra Nevada red fox because it has already 
resulted in warmer and drier conditions in the Sierra Nevada and 
Cascade mountains (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 34). The 
petition asserts that climate projections indicate that temperatures in 
the Sierra Nevada will continue to rise and there will be a decrease in 
snowpack (Center for Biological Diversity 2011, p. 37), thereby 
magnifying the other threats to Sierra Nevada red fox.
Climate Change--Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and 
Available in Service Files
    Climate change models conducted for the Sierra Nevada Ecoregion 
suggest that climate change may potentially have an impact on wildlife 
populations in the Sierra Nevada region due to changes in vegetation 
communities (PRBO Conservation Science 2011, p. 25). The petition 
presents information on projected climate change within the range of 
Sierra Nevada red fox, as well as speculation on the potential impact 
of climate change on the fox. However, the petitioner does not provide 
specific information regarding the impact of climate change on Sierra 
Nevada red fox populations. Therefore, the information presented by the 
petitioner and readily available in our files does not support the 
petitioner's claim that climate change poses a threat to Sierra Nevada 
red fox. However, we will further investigate the potential impacts of 
climate change in our status review for this subspecies.
Summary of Factor E
    The petition states that Sierra Nevada red fox is threatened by 
domestic livestock grazing, competition, OSV or ORV use, the 
vulnerability of small isolated populations, and climate change. The 
information contained in the petition and in our files indicates that 
competition with the coyote may result in the direct mortality of 
Sierra Nevada red fox, limited availability of prey, and altered 
habitat use by Sierra Nevada red fox. OSV or ORV use may interfere with 
essential behaviors, such as breeding and feeding, through disturbance 
and reduction in prey. Currently, the Sierra Nevada red fox is known 
from only two small isolated populations; therefore, small population 
size is a factor that may make the fox more vulnerable to other 
threats, such as competition, catastrophic events, or genetic or 
demographic problems. In summary, we find that the information 
presented in the petition and in our files presents substantial 
scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action 
may be warranted due to the threat of other natural or manmade factors 
affecting the subspecies' continued existence.

Finding

    On the basis of our determination under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the 
Act, we determine that the petition presents substantial scientific or 
commercial information indicating that listing Sierra Nevada red fox 
throughout its range may be warranted. This finding is based on 
information provided under Factors C (disease or predation) and E 
(other natural or manmade factors affecting the subspecies' continued 
existence). Although information provided under Factors A (the present 
or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat 
or range), B (overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, 
or educational purposes), and D (inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms) does not support the petition's assertions, we will further 
consider information relating to these factors in the status review.
    Because we have found that the petition presents substantial 
information indicating that listing Sierra Nevada red fox may be 
warranted, we are initiating a status review to determine whether 
listing Sierra Nevada red fox under the Act is warranted.
    The petition asserts that Sierra Nevada red fox occurs in two 
possible distinct population segments (DPS) and implies that, as a 
subspecies, Sierra Nevada red fox is also endangered or threatened 
throughout a significant portion of its range. We conclude that the 
petition presents substantial information that listing the entire 
subspecies may be warranted. Therefore, we have not specifically 
evaluated whether the petition provides substantial information with 
respect to the two potential DPSes outlined within the petition, or the 
extent to which Sierra Nevada red fox is endangered or threatened 
throughout a significant portion of its range. An analysis of these 
additional entities will occur during the status review if we determine 
that listing of the entire subspecies is not warranted.
    The ``substantial information'' standard for a 90-day finding 
differs from the Act's ``best scientific and commercial data'' standard 
that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned 
action is warranted. A 90-day finding does not constitute a status 
review under the Act. In a 12-month finding, we will determine whether 
a petitioned action is warranted after we have completed a thorough 
status review of the species, which is conducted following a 
substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 
12-month findings are different, as described above, a substantial 90-
day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a 
warranted finding.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited is available on the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Sacramento Fish 
and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Authors

    The primary authors of this notice are the staff members of the 
Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office.

Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 
1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: December 21, 2011.
Gregory E. Siekaniec,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-33610 Filed 12-30-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P