(Lakewood, Colo.) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on a proposal to designate the State of Wyoming as a special area for the reintroduction of black-footed ferrets, which are federally listed as endangered. The proposal would increase management flexibility and lessen regulatory requirements related to future ferret reintroductions in the state.
“Private landowners are key to the success of the black-footed ferret recovery effort,” said Noreen Walsh, Regional Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region. “What we’re trying to do is give landowners the comfort level they need to consider establishing ferrets on their property.”
Re-establishing a threatened or endangered species in its former range is often necessary to ensure enough populations exist to sustain recovery. To relieve concern that reintroductions may result in restrictions on the use of private, tribal or public land, Congress added the provision for “non-essential, experimental” populations under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The flexibility afforded by 10(j) rules has allowed the Service to reintroduce ferrets into a number of sites on public and private lands from Mexico to Canada. Although potential sites for reintroductions in Wyoming have not yet been determined, with the special allowances afforded under a 10(j) rule, landowners would be able to manage their lands without the concern they might break the law by inadvertently harming a ferret.
Participation in future recovery actions for the black-footed ferret by private landowners will continue to be entirely voluntary. Implementation of the 10(j) rule will ensure that the concerns of private landowners and landowners adjacent to reintroduction areas are addressed comprehensively.
Today’s announcement opens a 60-day comment period, which will close on June 9, 2015.
Written comments on this proposed rule and related environmental analyses can be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Keyword box, enter Docket No. FWS–R6–ES–2015–0013, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, in the Search panel on the left side of the screen, under the Document Type heading, click on the Proposed Rules link to locate this document. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Send a Comment or Submission.”
- By hard copy: Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2015–0013; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Headquarters, MS: BPHC, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.