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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a 90-day finding on a petition to remove the tiger (Panthera tigris) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

[Federal Register: August 12, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 155)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 48914-48919]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12au10-21]

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

[FWS-R9-IA-2008-0121; [96100-1671-0000-B6]


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90-Day Finding on
a Petition to Delist the Tiger (Panthera tigris)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 90-day petition finding.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce a
90-day finding on a petition to remove the tiger (Panthera tigris) from
the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered
Species Act of 1973, as amended. We find that the petition does not
present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating
that removing the species from the List of Endangered and Threatened
Wildlife may be warranted. Therefore, we will not initiate a status
review in response to this petition. We ask the public to submit to us
any new information that becomes available concerning the status of the
tiger or threats to it or its habitat at any time. This information
will help us monitor and encourage the conservation of this species.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was made on August 12,

[[Page 48915]]

2010. You may submit new information concerning this species for our
consideration at any time.

ADDRESSES: This finding is available on the Internet at http://
www.regulations.gov. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this
finding is available for public inspection, by appointment, during
normal business hours at the Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered
Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax
Drive, Suite 400, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone, 703-358-2171; fax,
703-358-1735. Please submit any new information, materials, comments,
or questions concerning this species or this finding to the above
address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of
Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program (see ADDRESSES); telephone
703-358-2171; facsimile 703-358-1735. If you use a telecommunications
device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service
(FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as
amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), 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 March 5, 2005, we received a petition dated February 25, 2005,
from Sarah L. Blaskey of Merrionette Park, Illinois, requesting that
the tiger (Panthera tigris), currently listed as endangered under the
Act, be removed from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
The petition clearly identifies itself as such and included the
requisite identification information for the petitioner(s), as required
in 50 CFR 424.14(a). This finding addresses the petition.

Previous Federal Actions

The tiger has been the subject of several Federal actions (Service
2006, pp. 1-2). In 1970, we proposed four subspecies, Panthera tigris
balica (from Indonesia), Panthera tigris sondaica (from Indonesia),
Panthera tigris virgata (from Russia, Afghanistan, and Iran), and
Panthera tigris sumatrae (from Indonesia), as Appendix A species
(``species and subspecies threatened with extinction in other
countries'') under the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969
(ESCA) (35 FR 6069, April 14, 1970). We finalized this action on June
2, 1970 (35 FR 8491), but actual implementation was delayed in the
United States until August 3, 1970, in order to ensure the orderly
implementation of these regulations. In 1972, and in recognition of the
fact that by listing a species the law applies to subspecies as well,
we delisted the four subspecies and listed Panthera tigris under
Appendix A of the ``U.S. List of Endangered Foreign Fish and Wildlife''
(37 FR 6476, March 30, 1972).
Two lists of endangered wildlife were maintained under the ESCA:
One for foreign species and one for species native to the United
States. Approved on December 28, 1973, the Endangered Species Act of
1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544) superseded the Endangered Species
Conservation Act of 1969 (Service 2008d). On January 4, 1974, we
categorized the tiger as endangered foreign wildlife under 50 CFR 17.11
(39 FR 1158). On September 26, 1975, the foreign and native lists were
replaced by a single ``List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife'' (40
FR 44412), on which the tiger remained categorized as endangered. Under
the Act, ``endangered'' means, in part, ``any species which is in
danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its
range.'' Under section 9, the Act prohibits unauthorized taking,
possession, sale, and transport of endangered species. The Endangered
Species Act of 1973 also implemented the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES; T.I.A.S.
8249).
The tiger was included under the Convention on International Trade
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1977 (42 FR
10462, February 22, 1977). Panthera tigris altaica (= amurensis) was
categorized as an Appendix II species under CITES, while all other
subspecies of Panthera tigris were categorized as Appendix I species.
Species included in CITES Appendix I are considered to be threatened
with extinction, and most international trade of these species for
commercial purposes is banned. CITES Appendix II species are not
necessarily considered to be threatened with extinction now but may
become so unless trade in the species is regulated. On July 10, 1987,
the Service announced a negotiating position to recategorize Panthera
tigris altaica to Appendix I under CITES, which would mean that all
tiger subspecies merited protection under Appendix I (52 FR 26043). The
CITES Party countries agreed and adopted a measure that became
effective on October 22, 1987. This measure was implemented in the
United States effective December 28, 1987 (52 FR 48820). On August 23,
2007, we revised U.S. CITES regulations for 50 CFR parts 10, 13, 17,
and 23 covering the period from 1979 to 2004 (72 FR 48402).
Two additional sets of Federal regulations are relevant to the
tiger: the Captive Bred Wildlife (CBW) registration program under the
Act and the Captive Wildlife Safety Act (CWSA). The Act and
implementing regulations prohibit any person subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States from conducting certain activities
with endangered or threatened species of fish, wildlife, or plants.
These activities include import, export, take, and interstate or
foreign commerce. The Secretary of the Interior may permit such
activities, under such terms and conditions as he will prescribe, for
scientific purposes or to enhance the propagation or survival of the
affected species, provided these activities are consistent with the Act
(Service 2003, p. 1). Since 1976, the Service has been striving to
achieve an appropriate degree of control over prohibited activities
involving living wildlife of nonnative species born in captivity in the
United States. The regulations that we published in 1998 (63 FR 48634,
September 11, 1998) reflect the Service's interpretation of the
appropriate degree of control for these species of captive bred
wildlife.
The Service has determined that, under the CBW registration system,
activities can be conducted without first registering with the Service
for ``generic'' or inter-subspecific crossed tigers (63 FR 48634,
September 11, 1998). The Service defines ``generic'' or inter-

[[Page 48916]]

subspecific crossed tigers as ``Panthera tigris (i.e., specimens not
identified as or identifiable as members of the Bengal, Sumatran,
Siberian, or Indochinese subspecies (Panthera tigris tigris, P.t.
sumatrae, P.t. altaica, and P.t. corbetti, respectively))'' provided
that 50 CFR 17.21(g)(6) applies. This determination reiterates the
Service's philosophy on its approach to captive versus wild
populations: ``The Service considers the purpose of the Act to be best
served by conserving species in the wild along with their ecosystems.
Populations of species in captivity are, in large degree, removed from
their natural ecosystems and have a role in survival of the species
only to the extent that they maintain genetic integrity and offer the
potential of restocking natural ecosystems where the species has become
depleted or no longer occurs'' (63 FR 48635, September 11, 1998). CBW
regulations were amended and became effective on October 13, 1998. They
apply to tigers that are identified as, or identifiable as, one of the
four subspecies. If used in interstate commerce, these tigers must
either be registered with the Service through CBW, or permitted via an
enhancement of survival permit (section 10(a)(1)(A) of the Act). In
addition, the majority of CBW registered tigers are managed in the
United States under the Species Survival Plan Program of the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA; see AZA 2008; Minnesota Zoo
2008).
The CWSA amended the Lacey Act and addressed concerns about public
safety and the growing number of big cats in private hands in the
United States. Under the CWSA, several prohibitions apply to the tiger,
as well as several other species generically identified by the Service
as ``big cats.'' The CWSA regulations (72 FR 45938, August 16, 2007)
apply to tigers at the species level, as well as subspecies and hybrids
(Service 2007, pp. 1-2). Unless you are exempt, you may not move live
big cats, including tigers, across State lines or the U.S. border.
Prohibited activities include: Import into or export out of the United
States; interstate sale and purchase; transport across State lines; and
receiving or acquiring big cats if the animals are moved from one State
to another (72 FR 45938, August 16, 2007). These prohibitions became
effective on September 17, 2007.
In order to be exempt from CWSA prohibitions, you must be licensed
by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act; a State
college, university, or agency; a State-licensed wildlife
rehabilitator; a State-licensed veterinarian; or an accredited wildlife
sanctuary that meets certain criteria. License holders typically
include zoos, circuses, and those who conduct research with wild
animals.
Panthera tigris is also a beneficiary of the Rhinoceros and Tiger
Conservation Act of 1994 (16 U.S.C. 5306), as amended. This Act, in
part, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to assist in the
conservation of rhinoceros and tigers by supporting the conservation
programs of nations whose activities directly or indirectly affect
these taxa (Service 2004, p. 11; Service 2008a,b). In addition, this
Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to convene an advisory group
of individuals to assist in carrying out the Act. In 1998, this Act was
amended to prohibit the sale, importation, or exportation of products
labeled or advertised as rhinoceros or tiger products (Pub. L. 105-312;
16 U.S.C. 5305a). As amended, the law states that a person shall not
sell, import, or export, or attempt to sell, import, or export, any
product, item, or substance intended for human consumption or
application containing, or labeled or advertised as containing, any
substance derived from any species of rhinoceros or tiger (16 U.S.C.
5305a(a)).

Species Information

The tiger is the largest species of the cat family (Felidae) and is
the top predator throughout its range (Maz[aacute]k 1981, pp. 1-2; Cat
Specialist Group 2002; ITIS 2008). Tigers are quite muscular and have a
large head. The teeth are very strong. Adults are usually about 2.2-3.0
meters (m) in length (7.2-9.8 feet (ft)). Females are usually smaller
than males. Body weights of 258.2-306.5 kilograms (kg) (569-675 pounds
(lbs)) have been reported, but males typically weigh about 170 kg (375
lbs), while females weigh about 113 kg (249 lbs).
Tigers originally ranged from eastern Turkey to southeastern
Siberia and the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, and Bali (Maz[aacute]k
1981, pp. 2-3). The current geographic distribution is greatly reduced,
and tigers have been exterminated from most of their former geographic
range. At the end of the 19th century, there may have been as many as
100,000 tigers in the wild (Nowak 1999, p. 828). Currently, tiger
populations are smaller, increasingly more isolated, and progressively
more fragmented than before. Based on estimates by species experts,
extant tiger populations total about 7,700 individuals in the wild and
occupy only about 7 percent of their original range in areas from India
to Vietnam, as well as in Sumatra, China, and the Russian Far East
(Dinerstein et al. 2006, p. ii). Tigers primarily occur in forested
areas, but can also be found in grasslands and savannahs (Nowak 1999,
p. 825). These areas increasingly are being converted to agricultural
uses, leading to conflicts between tigers and farmers. Cover, water,
and sufficient prey are the main habitat requirements of tigers
(Maz[aacute]k 1981, p. 4).
Females typically give birth to about one to four cubs per litter
(Maz[aacute]k 1981, p. 4). New litters are born about every 2-4 years
after the young of the previous litter have become independent of the
mother and have left the family unit (Nowak 1999, p. 827).
Except for the mating season, tigers are usually solitary. Some
tigers are territorial, while others share home ranges. Shared home
ranges are often occupied by litter mates or members of extended tiger
families (Nowak 1999, p. 827). Territory sizes usually range from about
200 to 1,000 square kilometers (km\2\) (77-386 square miles (mi\2\)) in
size, depending on habitat quality and prey availability.
Tigers, which hunt primarily at night, mainly prey upon larger
mammals, especially ungulates (Nowak 1999, p. 826). Domestic livestock,
such as cattle, water buffalos, goats, and dogs, are also frequently
taken by tigers (Maz[aacute]k 1981, p. 5). These attacks are a major
cause of conflicts with local farmers. Tigers also attack and kill
humans, especially in India (Nowak 1999, p. 827; Nowell and Jackson
1996, p. 57).
Conservation threats to tigers include being poisoned, shot,
trapped, and snared, as well as loss or modification of habitat and
reductions to natural prey populations (World Wildlife Fund
International undated, p. 1). These threats are widespread and ongoing
(e.g., Environmental Investigation Agency 1998, 2006a, 2006b; Johnson
et al. 2006, pp. 7-8; Poole and Johnson 2008; Ng and Nemora 2007, pp.
vi-vii; Shepherd and Magnus 2004, pp. vi-vii).
Recent reports suggest that natural mortality of tigers is being
replaced by mortality due to man. Historically, bears, wild pigs, and
other large mammals were major predators of tigers; today, tigers
increasingly are being killed by human hunters (Maz[aacute]k 1981, p.
5). As a result, tiger populations in most areas are greatly reduced
due to human activities.
International trade in tigers has been a source of concern to
conservationists and species experts for many years. According to
Inskipp and Wells (1979, p. 40), big cats already showed signs of
becoming rare in the 1960s. Three tigers

[[Page 48917]]

were imported into the United States in 1968 (Jones 1970, p. 19).
During 1968-1972, 17 living tigers were imported into the United States
(McMahan 1986, p. 468). Following the ratification of CITES in the
United States, during 1979-1980, a total of 103 live tigers were
imported according to Service records. Overall, a total of 317 live
Appendix I tigers were reported in international trade during 1979-1980
(McMahan 1986, p. 471).
More recently in the United States, more than 130 live tigers were
either imported, exported, or re-exported legally during 2004-2006
(purpose of transaction: zoos, circuses and traveling exhibitions, and
breeding in captivity; Service 2008c). About 6,000 illegally obtained
items during that same time period were either abandoned at the port of
entry or seized by U.S. law enforcement officials (primarily skins,
teeth, trophies, and articles used for traditional medicine). At the
international level during 1976-1990, the average annual trade in
tigers reported to CITES was about 16 individuals per year (primarily
trophies; Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 226). Elsewhere, reports about
India (Environmental Investigation Agency 1998, 2006a, 2006b; Wright
2007) and Indonesia (Sumatra Island; Ng and Nemora 2007; Shepherd and
Magnus 2004) document an ongoing illegal commercial and recreational
trade in those countries. Wright (2007, p. 10) reported 34-81 tigers
poached per year in India during 1998-2006. Poaching and killing tigers
to protect livestock are also reported rangewide (Nowell and Jackson
1996, pp. 180-195).
Little is known about the nature or extent of disease in wild tiger
populations. According to Nowell and Jackson (1996, p. 58), tiger
mortality during the second year of life is 17 percent, while
infanticide is overall the most common cause of cub death. Furthermore,
Nowell and Jackson (1996, pp. 64-65) suggest that natural mortality is
being replaced with mortality due to human activities.
Tigers can live up to about 15 years of age in the wild and up to
26 years of age in captivity (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 58). Habitat
loss and reductions in the size of tiger prey populations increasingly
are becoming significant determinants in tiger population sizes and
geographic distribution. According to species experts, large tracts of
contiguous habitat are essential to assure the survival of wild tigers
on a long-term basis; small, isolated reserves cannot be relied upon to
conserve the species (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 65).
Tigers readily breed in captivity and often are included in the
exhibitions of larger zoos (Maz[aacute]k 1981, p. 6). The Leipzig Zoo
has maintained the International Tiger Studbook since 1973 (M[uuml]ller
2004), while the AZA coordinates the Species Survival Plan Program (AZA
2008; Minnesota Zoo 2008). Species experts have recently proposed
designs for landscape conservation efforts (Wikramanayake et al. 2004),
as well as conservation and recovery priorities for wild tigers
(Dinerstein et al. 2006; Sanderson et al. 2006).
There is a relatively large population of tigers in captivity.
According to Werner (2005, p. 24), there are approximately 264 tigers
in AZA-registered institutions in the United States, 1,179 in assorted
wildlife sanctuaries, 2,120 in USDA-registered institutions, and 1,120
in private ownership (approximate U.S. total = 4,692 tigers). An
additional 5,000 tigers have been reported in captivity in China at
sites popularly identified as tiger farms, with an annual production of
800 individuals (CITES 2007b, p. 4). The long-term status of these
captive tigers, however, has been questioned by some as the Government
of China is studying and assessing a suggestion to use the bones of
captive specimens for domestic purposes in traditional Chinese medicine
(CITES 2007c, p. 7; CITES 2007d, p. 7). While domestic trade in tiger
bone has been prohibited in China since 1993, traditional Chinese
medicine--based in part on the use of tiger bones--continues (Shepherd
and Magnus 2004; Nowell 2007; Ng and Nemora 2007). Fewer than 1,000
tigers occur in public zoos in Europe and Japan (Ron Tillson, cited by
Morell 2007, p. 1312), while data for the quantity of tigers in private
collections in Europe and Japan are not readily available.

Evaluation of Information for This Finding

Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and 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) 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.
We must consider these same five factors in delisting a species. We
may delist a species according to 50 CFR 424.11(d) if the best
available scientific or commercial data indicate that the species is
neither endangered nor threatened for the following reasons:
(1) The species is extinct;
(2) The species has recovered and is no longer endangered or
threatened; or
(3) The original scientific data used at the time the species was
classified were in error.
In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information
regarding the threats to the tiger, 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

Information Provided in the Petition
The petitioner provides no information that suggests that threats
to the habitat or range of the tiger have been reduced or eliminated.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in
Service Files
The information in Service files as described in the Species
Information section (above) suggests that, rather than improving, the
habitat or range of the tiger is deteriorating in quantity and quality
throughout its range. Given the lack of information in the petition
addressing the threats to habitat or range, and information in our
files that indicates these threats are ongoing and increasing, we have
determined that the information provided in the petition, as well as
other information in our files, does not present substantial scientific
or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be
warranted due to the reduction or elimination of threats to the tiger's
habitat or range.

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

Information Provided in the Petition
The petitioner provides copies of documents that indicate that
large numbers of tigers are held in captivity in the United States.
According to the petition, up to 10,000 tigers are being

[[Page 48918]]

maintained as pets in the United States. In addition, the petitioner
suggests that the total population of tigers in the world may be
approximately 20,000 individuals, including those maintained as pets by
private individuals and those tigers in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries.
The petitioner asserts that, given the number of individuals in the
wild and in captivity, the species is no longer at risk of extinction.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in
Service Files
Although the petitioner acknowledges the number of tigers in the
United States held as pets, in zoos, and in sanctuaries, the petition
does not address the threat of overutilization of tigers for
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes, or
whether these threats have been reduced or eliminated. As described in
the Species Information section, the information in Service files
indicates that tigers have been and continue to be widely used for
commercial, recreation, scientific, or educational purposes. Although
the Service is not aware of any scientific or commercial information
indicating overutilization of tigers for scientific or educational
purposes, information in Service files indicates that overutilization
for commercial and recreational purposes is ongoing and widespread.
Given that the petition does not address the threat of
overutilization of tigers, and information in our files indicates this
threat is ongoing and widespread, we find that the information provided
in the petition, as well as other information in our files, does not
present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating
that the petitioned action may be warranted due to the reduction or
elimination of the threat of overutilization of the tiger for
commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.

C. Disease and Predation

Information Provided in the Petition
The petitioner does not provide any information about tiger disease
or predation.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in
Service Files
As described in the Species Information section, among the
documents available in Service files, little mention is made of disease
or predation as a conservation factor for tigers. The Service is not
aware of any scientific or commercial information that indicates that
the conservation status of the tiger with respect to disease or
predation has improved. It does not appear, however, that disease or
predation are important factors that negatively affect the conservation
status of the tiger at this time. Because the petitioner provided no
information about tiger disease or predation, and information in our
files appears to indicate that disease or predation are not important
factors negatively affecting the conservation status of the species,
the information available to us does not support or oppose this
petition to delist the species. As such, we have determined that the
information provided in the petition, as well as other information in
our files, does not present substantial scientific or commercial
information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted due
to the reduction or elimination of tiger disease or predation.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

Information Provided in the Petition
The petitioner does not provide any information that suggests that
existing regulatory mechanisms have resulted in a reduction or
elimination of threats to the tiger. Several of the supporting
documents presented by the petitioner generally describe that many
tigers are maintained as pets, but the petition does not indicate how
this information relates to delisting the tiger under this factor.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in
Service Files
Information in the Service's files, as described in the Species
Information section, consists of several reports that make special
mention of the positive conservation benefits to tigers as a result of
their being listed under Appendix I of CITES. As a result of CITES and
the associated regulatory mechanisms, according to these reports,
international trade of live tigers, as well as tiger parts, products,
and derivatives for commercial purposes has decreased, but persists
(Environmental Investigation Agency 2006a; Klenzendorf undated; Ng and
Nemora 2007; Nowell 2007; Poole and Johnson 2008; Shepherd and Magnus
2004; Wright 2007).
Within the context of CITES, the CITES Secretariat and the Standing
Committee have compiled information on the status of wild and captive
tiger populations, as well as the implementation of CITES decisions and
resolutions by importing, exporting, and re-exporting countries (e.g.,
CITES 2007b,c,d; CITES 2008a,b,c,d). Furthermore, the enforcement of
CITES prohibitions relating to international trade of tigers has been
made more effective through the adoption and implementation of several
CITES resolutions that call for stricter controls of international
trade (CITES 1997, 2000, 2002a, 2002b, 2007a).
While CITES regulatory mechanisms may have positive conservation
impacts on tigers, a number of inherent limitations have been
identified that may reduce the usefulness of these mechanisms at the
international level as a conservation tool for tigers. According to
Santagelo (2005, p. 119), CITES has several major limitations related
to enforcement, permits, and reporting. The inability of CITES to
remedy implementation failures at the national level, however, perhaps
is the most serious weakness of this regulatory mechanism and directly
affects conservation and research of the tigers. The issue of tiger
farming within the context of CITES, especially in China if the use of
tiger bones from captive specimens is legalized, has been identified as
a potentially serious regulatory problem (Santagelo 2005, p. 126).
While several international regulatory mechanisms affect the
conservation status of tigers, serious and specific threats to the
species at the national level remain. Several reports suggest that
appropriate regulatory mechanisms continue to be lacking in many range
countries (Tiger Task Force 2005, pp. vi-x; Environmental Investigation
Agency 1998, 2006a). Poaching occurs throughout the range of the tiger.
The seizure or abandonment mentioned above of about 6,000 items (tiger
parts, products, or derivatives) during 2004-2006 by U.S. law
enforcement officials at ports of entry also underscores the inadequacy
of existing regulatory mechanisms in several countries that export or
re-export tigers or tiger parts, products, or derivatives.
Several reports have suggested potential problems associated with
the possession or private ownership of tigers in captivity in the
United States. According to these reports, the exact number of tigers
in captivity is unknown; breeding and husbandry controls vary from
State to State; and the disposal of tiger parts, products, and
derivatives is not monitored at the Federal level (Williamson and Henry
2008, pp. 1-4; World Wildlife Fund-US 2008). This information,
according to these reports, is critical to the effective management of
tigers in the United States.

[[Page 48919]]

Captive tigers in the United States are regulated under the CBW and
CWSA. Regulations adopted under the CBW reflect a determination by the
Service to focus Federal activities on wild specimens where
conservation benefits will be most effective (63 FR 48634, September
11, 1998). Regulations adopted under the CWSA address big cats,
including tigers, and public safety issues in the United States (72 FR
45938, August 16, 2007; Service 2007). It is the Service's
determination that these two regulatory mechanisms provide an adequate
level of control of captive tigers in the United States despite the
potential problems mentioned above. Beyond U.S. borders, the Service is
not aware of any scientific or commercial information that indicates
that existing regulatory mechanisms are adequate for all or most of the
countries where tigers either occur in the wild or are maintained in
captivity.
In summary, we have determined that the information provided in the
petition, as well as other information in our files, does not present
substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the
petitioned action may be warranted due to the reduction or elimination
of the threat of inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms with
respect to the tiger.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Continued Existence

Information Provided in the Petition
The petitioner does not provide any information about other natural
or manmade factors affecting the continued existence of the tiger.
Evaluation of Information Provided in the Petition and Available in
Service Files
The information in Service files, as described in the Species
Information section above, includes several reports by internationally
recognized tiger experts. These reports cite the importance of reducing
or eliminating poaching, reversing habitat conversion and
fragmentation, stopping the loss of the tiger prey base (especially
ungulates taken by subsistence hunters), and eliminating human-tiger
conflicts due to livestock grazing (Nowell and Jackson 1996, pp. 64-65;
Species Programme 2002; Dinerstein et al. 2006, pp. ii-iv; Johnson et
al. 2005; Johnson et al. 2006; Sanderson et al. 2006, pp. iii-vi).
Environmental Investigation Agency (2006a, p. 20) specifically cites
the recent example of poisons being placed in the carcasses of dead
livestock to kill tigers returning to the site of a kill. The Service
is not aware of any scientific or commercial information suggesting
that the conservation status of tigers in any range country has
undergone significant improvement. The Service is aware of improvements
in husbandry techniques for captive tiger populations in several zoos
and wildlife sanctuaries (M[uuml]ller 2004), but it is not clear if
privately held tigers are also benefitting from those changes.
In conclusion, based on the documents available to the Service,
information about other natural or manmade factors affecting the
continued existence of the tiger does not support this petition to
delist the species.

Finding

The key element of the petition to delist the tiger is an assertion
by the petitioner that the tiger population has grown exponentially
over the past 35 years (since listing under the Act) and that there are
approximately 20,000 tigers in the wild or in zoos and sanctuaries
worldwide. Information about tigers available to the Service and
summarized above suggests that over the past century both the total
population size and the extent of the geographic range of the species
in the wild are much reduced from previous levels. Tiger habitat
continues to be converted to agricultural purposes, while remaining
patches of tiger habitat increasingly are becoming fragmented and
isolated from each other. This loss directly affects tigers, as well as
the prey on which they depend. Poaching and illegal trade of tigers,
domestic as well as international, especially for traditional Chinese
medicine, continue despite increased national and CITES controls (Bolze
et al. 1998, pp. 2-3; Henry 2004, pp. 12-13; Nowell and Ling 2007, pp.
v-vi).
The petitioner does not provide information related to the relevant
factors that the Service considers when reviewing proposals to list or
delist a species, including the factors provided under subsection
4(a)(1) of the Act. The information in Service files, including several
rangewide reports by internationally recognized tiger experts, numerous
national reports, and trade summaries involving the United States and
other countries, suggest that conservation threats to the tiger remain
widespread and ongoing. While there may be some success stories in
terms of tiger conservation (e.g., Phoenix Fund 2001, 2004; Save the
Tiger Fund 2005, 2007; Gratwicke et al. 2007; World Wildlife Fund
International undated), in general the conservation status of the
species throughout its range is deteriorating. In conclusion, the data
in our files do not support the petitioned action.
We have reviewed the petition, as well as the literature cited in
the petition, and have evaluated that information in relation to
information available to the Service. Based on this review and
evaluation, we find that the petition does not present substantial
scientific or commercial information to indicate that the delisting of
the tiger may be warranted at this time. Although we will not commence
a status review in response to this petition, we will continue to
monitor the tiger's population status and trends, potential threats to
the tiger, and ongoing management actions that might be important with
regard to the conservation of the tiger across its range. We encourage
interested parties to continue to gather data that will assist with the
conservation of the species. If you wish to provide information
regarding the tiger, you may submit your information or materials to
the Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program (see
ADDRESSES).

References Cited

A complete list of all references cited in this document is
available, upon request, from the Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered
Species Program (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

Author

The primary author of this notice is the Staff of the Branch of
Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (see ADDRESSES).

Authority

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

Dated: August 3, 2010.
Wendi Weber,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2010-19895 Filed 8-11-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P


For the cats,

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL  33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Carole.Baskin@BigCatRescue.org
http://www.BigCatRescue.org

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