[Federal Register Volume 64, Number 94 (Monday, May 17, 1999)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 26725-26733]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 99-12318]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: 12-month Finding 
on Petitions To Change the Status of Grizzly Bear Populations in the 
Selkirk Area in Idaho and Washington and the Cabinet-Yaak Area of 
Montana and Idaho From Threatened to Endangered

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of 12-month petition finding.


SUMMARY: We find that reclassification of grizzly bears (Ursus arctos 
horribilis) in the combined Cabinet-Yaak/Selkirk recovery zones of 
Idaho, Montana, and Washington from threatened to endangered status is 
warranted but precluded by work on other higher priority species.

DATES: The finding announced in this document was approved on April 20, 

ADDRESSES: You may send questions or comments concerning this finding 
to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator, 
University Hall 309, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812. 
You may inspect the petition, finding, and supporting data by 
appointment during normal business hours at the above office.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Christopher Servheen, Grizzly Bear 
Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES section) at telephone (406) 243-



    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) (Act), requires that for any petition 
to revise the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants 
that contains substantial scientific and commercial information, we 
make a finding within 12 months of the receipt of the petition on 
whether the petitioned action is--(a) not warranted, (b) warranted, or 
(c) warranted but precluded from immediate proposal by other pending 
proposals of higher priority. When a petition to list a species is 
found to be warranted but precluded, the species is designated a 
candidate species. A candidate species is a taxon for which we have on 
file sufficient information to support issuance of a proposed listing 
rule. Section 4(b)(3)(C) requires that a petition for which we find the 
requested action to be warranted but precluded be treated as though it 
has been resubmitted on the date of such finding; a subsequent finding 
is to be made on such a petition within 12 months of the initial or 
previous finding. Notices of such 12-month findings are to be published 
promptly in the Federal Register. The finding reported here is a 
finding on a petitioned action for which we have made previous 12-month 
    On February 4, 1991, the Fund for Animals, Inc., petitioned us to 
reclassify the grizzly bear from threatened to endangered in the 
Selkirk ecosystem of Idaho and Washington; the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem 
of Montana and Idaho; the Yellowstone ecosystem of Montana, Wyoming, 
and Idaho; and the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem of Montana. We 
received a second petition dated January 16, 1991, from Mr. D.C. 
Carlton on January 28, 1991, that requested us to reclassify the 
grizzly bear from threatened to endangered in the Selkirk ecosystem of 
Idaho and Washington; the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem of Montana and Idaho; 
and the North Cascades ecosystem of Washington. We issued a finding of 
not warranted for reclassification in the Yellowstone and Northern 
Continental Divide ecosystems on April 20, 1992 (57 FR 14372-14374). We 
made a positive 90-day finding for the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
ecosystems and initiated a status review in the same notice. We issued 
a 12-month finding of warranted but precluded for the Cabinet-Yaak 
ecosystem on February 12, 1993 (58 FR 8250), and again on June 4, 1998 
(63 FR 30453). We issued a not warranted finding for the Selkirk 
ecosystem on February 12, 1993 (58 FR 8250). A lawsuit was subsequently 
filed challenging our not warranted finding for the Selkirk ecosystem. 
In 1995, the court remanded the case so that we could provide 
additional information and analysis regarding the finding (Carlton v. 
Babbitt, 900 F. Supp. 526, 531-34, 537-38 (District Court of 
Washington, DC 1995)).
    The court found that we had adequately addressed issues relating to 
any ``present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment 
of habitat or range.'' However, additional information was requested on 
overutilization, particularly trends of human-caused mortality. The 
court requested more information on the relationship between regulatory 
mechanisms and human-caused mortality, and additional analysis of 
survivorship and reproductive rates. The court also expressed concerns 
about the discussion of population connectivity between bears in Canada 
and the United States. We responded to the court with Supplementary 
Information for the Court regarding the Not Warranted Petition Finding 
for the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Population (March 15, 1996).
    On October 28, 1998, the court remanded the matter back to us 
because we had not established that the Selkirk population could 
sustain the current rate of human-caused mortality, that present 
regulatory mechanisms were adequate, that the Selkirk population was 
not endangered simply by virtue of size, and that Canadian habitat 
would continue to be available to the Selkirk population. On January 
21, 1999, we requested additional time to respond to the remand in 
order to evaluate the Selkirk population in light of our recent policy 
defining distinct population segments.
    We have reviewed our previous findings on the Selkirk population in 
light of the court's ruling. Based on this reevaluation of the Selkirk 
population's status, and consideration of our policy on distinct 
vertebrate population segments, which was adopted after the 1993 
petition findings, we believe that it may be appropriate to pursue a 
change in the listing of the grizzly bear which would recognize the 
Selkirk recovery zone and the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone as one 
distinct population segment. In this finding, we will review the 
information that has led us to consider such a change because much of 
this information has direct relevance to the court's concerns about 
issues not adequately addressed in our previous finding on the Selkirk 
population. We will consider formally recognizing a distinct population 
segment that would encompass both the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak recovery 
zones in the near future.

Distinct Population Segments

    In conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service, we 
adopted a new policy regarding Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate 
Population Segments under the Endangered Species Act on February 7, 
1996 (61 FR 4722-4725). This policy clarifies interpretation of the 
phrase ``distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish 
or wildlife'' for the purposes of listing,

[[Page 26726]]

delisting, and reclassifying species under the Endangered Species Act. 
This policy has not previously been applied to the Selkirk or Cabinet-
Yaak grizzly bear populations.
    This policy directs that three elements are to be considered in a 
decision regarding status of a possible distinct population segment as 
endangered or threatened. These include:
    1. The discreteness of the population segment in relation to the 
remainder of the species to which it belongs;
    2. The significance of the population segment to the species to 
which it belongs; and
    3. The population segment's conservation status in relation to the 
Endangered Species Act's standards for listing.

Discreteness of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear 

    A population may be considered discrete if it satisfies either of 
the following conditions:
    1. It is markedly separated from other populations of the same 
taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or 
behavioral factors. Quantitative measures of genetic or morphological 
discontinuity may provide evidence of this separation.
    2. It is delimited by international governmental boundaries within 
which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, 
conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are 
significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Endangered Species 
    Forty-four grizzly bears were captured and collared from 1983 to 
1998 in both the Canadian and United States portions of the Selkirk 
recovery zone (Wakkinen and Johnson 1997, Wakkinen, pers. comm. 1998). 
Eighteen of those 44 bears (41 percent) had portions of their home 
ranges in both the United States and Canada. Four marked bears (9 
percent) have made significant moves outside the recovery zone. Two of 
these bears moved west of the recovery zone. One was an adult male (tag 
1049) that denned west of the Salmo River in British Columbia during 
1989. In 1995 a subadult male (tag 1023) moved west of the Pend Oreille 
River in Washington. Three of these bears have moved east of the 
recovery zone into the Canadian Purcell Mountains just north of the 
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone. In 1994 an adult male (tag 13) was captured 
at a livestock depredation site in the Canadian portion of the Selkirk 
recovery zone and relocated about 32 kilometers (20 miles) north within 
the recovery zone. Later in 1994 the same bear was killed east of 
Kootenay Lake in the Purcell Mountains. In 1996 a subadult male (tag 
1022) that was originally captured in the United States portion of the 
recovery zone was killed east of Kootenay Lake in the Purcell 
Mountains. In 1998 another subadult male (tag 1023) that was captured 
in the United States portion of the Selkirk recovery zone was killed on 
the east side of the Purcell Mountains. This was the same animal that 
moved west of the recovery zone in 1995. All of these animals were 
identified by ear tags remaining from original captures inside the 
recovery zone.
    Ten of 20 bears (50 percent) captured south of the international 
boundary in the Yaak study area of northwest Montana and northern Idaho 
were monitored crossing into Canada between 1987 and 1998 (Kasworm and 
Servheen 1995, Kasworm, pers. comm.). No bears were captured during 
limited trapping efforts in British Columbia. Four of these animals 
were adult males that spent portions of the spring breeding season in 
Canada during various years between 1987 and 1998. One of these males, 
captured in the United States, was observed courting an adult female 
whose home range occurs largely in Canada. Another adult female whose 
home range occurs largely in the United States was observed in 
association with two different adult males in Canada and subsequently 
produced a litter of cubs. Furthermore, two adult males (tag 134 and 
128) originally captured in the United States were monitored up to 32 
kilometers (20 miles) north of the border and north of the Moyie River 
in the Purcell Mountains during breeding season of 1987 and 1992 (10 
percent of all captured bears).
    Monitoring of grizzly bears in the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
recovery zones has shown movement and mingling of approximately 7-10 
percent of marked animals from each recovery zone in the Purcell 
Mountains of southern British Columbia east of Kootenay Lake and 
northwest of the Moyie River. This area is about 32-80 kilometers (20-
50 miles) north of the juncture of the State boundaries of Idaho and 
Montana and the international border with Canada. Movements were 
documented on repeated occasions even with small sample sizes. These 
percentages of marked animals must be viewed as minimum numbers. 
Knowledge of these movements was obtained because the eartags were 
recovered at the time of death. Other bears originally tagged in the 
Selkirk or Yaak study areas may be present in the southern Purcell 
Mountains, but have not been detected. They must be captured or killed 
and reported to determine presence of ear tags. Research and associated 
marking of animals has occurred within the recovery zones and therefore 
can document movements out of the recovery zones. Documenting movements 
from the Purcell Mountains into either recovery zone could only be 
accomplished by marking animals in the former area. However, the fact 
that movements have been observed out of recovery zones, where bear 
population densities are likely lower, suggests that movements into the 
recovery zones are likely. These monitoring results and observations 
support population connectivity among the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
recovery zones and Canadian populations north and west of the Moyie 
River and east of Kootenay Lake. Habitat in the Purcell Mountains is 
continuous north from the international boundary for at least 240 
kilometers (150 miles) before reaching the Trans-Canada Highway near 
Revelstoke, British Columbia. The Purcell Mountains are bounded on the 
west by Kootenay Lake and the community of Nelson and to the east by 
the Kootenay and Columbia River valleys with the communities of 
Cranbrook and Kimberly. The west side also is bounded by Highways 95 
and 93 and associated developments from the international boundary 240 
kilometers (150 miles) north to the junction with Trans-Canada Highway 
1 near Golden, British Columbia. Population estimates for this area 
range from 446-577, depending upon the amount of area included 
northwest of Kootenay Lake (Simpson et al. 1995).
    Another potential area of linkage of these two recovery zones 
exists between the southeastern edge of the Selkirk recovery zone and 
the western edge of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone. Less than 16 
airline kilometers (10 airline miles) separate the recovery zones in an 
area 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of Bonners Ferry, Idaho. This area 
was identified in the grizzly bear recovery plan as a potential linkage 
zone and will be evaluated as part of recovery plan linkage zone 
analysis which is scheduled for completion in late 1999. The area has a 
mixed ownership consisting of Federal, State, corporate, and other 
private entities, and includes Highway 95. No grizzly bears have yet 
been detected crossing this area between recovery zones, but given the 
low density of grizzly bears in the area, and no radio collared bears 
in the immediate vicinity, detection is not likely.
    Potential connections to other grizzly bear recovery zones from the 
combined Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones

[[Page 26727]]

could include the Northern Continental Divide, North Cascades, 
Yellowstone, and Bitterroot recovery zones. Since 1975, more than 500 
grizzly bears have been radio-collared for monitoring in all ecosystems 
except the Bitterroot and the North Cascades. Not a single bear has 
been monitored moving between any of these recovery zones (Servheen 
1998). The most likely connection from the combined Selkirk/Cabinet-
Yaak area to other recovery zones would be with the Northern 
Continental Divide because it is the nearest neighbor. Numerous bears 
have been captured and marked through research efforts in the Northern 
Continental Divide recovery zone within the United States and directly 
north in British Columbia. Most notably these efforts have occurred in 
the North Fork of the Flathead River in the United States and British 
Columbia, the East Slopes Grizzly Bear study centered around Banff and 
Jasper National Parks, and the West Slopes study centered around 
Golden, British Columbia. None of these efforts have documented bears 
crossing from their study areas into the Purcell Mountains south of 
Golden, British Columbia, which is about 240 kilometers (150 miles) 
north of the international boundary (McLellan 1999, Gibeau 1999). 
Several instances of bears crossing Highway 1 within Canada's Glacier 
National Park have been documented, but this activity also is about 282 
kilometers (175 miles) north of the international boundary in the 
Purcell Mountain range. These data suggest that Northern Continental 
Divide grizzly bear populations are likely distinct from the Purcell 
Mountains for at least 240 kilometers (150 miles) into British 
    A recent assessment of grizzly bear populations in the British 
Columbia region of the North Cascades indicates that the population is 
relatively isolated from other populations in British Columbia (Gyug 
1998). There were no known populations of grizzly bears immediately to 
the east and only occasional sightings west and north. The North 
Cascades appear to be at least 80 kilometers (50 miles) from any 
relatively continuous grizzly bear population.
    The information presented above indicates that movement occurs and 
a genetic link possibly exists among grizzly bear populations in the 
Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones. This connection appears to 
occur within British Columbia and within 32 kilometers (20 miles) of 
the international boundary. Separately the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
grizzly bear recovery zones do not appear to satisfy the first distinct 
population segment condition for discreteness because they are not 
markedly separated as evidenced by bear movements. However, the Selkirk 
and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones do appear to be markedly separated from 
Northern Continental Divide, North Cascades, Yellowstone, and 
Bitterroot recovery zones. Because of the presence of the international 
boundary, it may be more appropriate in this situation to base 
discreteness on the second discreteness condition. Reasons are detailed 
in the analysis of the five listing factors. We find that the Selkirk 
and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones are not discrete from one another, but 
are discrete from the Northern Continental Divide, North Cascades, 
Yellowstone, and Bitterroot recovery zones.

Significance of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear 

    If a population segment is considered discrete under one or more of 
the above conditions, its biological and ecological significance will 
be considered in light of congressional guidance (see Senate Report 
151, 96th Congress, 1st Session) that the authority to list distinct 
populations segments be used ``sparingly'' while encouraging the 
conservation of genetic diversity. In carrying out this examination, we 
will consider available scientific evidence of the discrete population 
segment's importance to the taxon to which it belongs. This 
consideration may include, but is not limited to the following:

    1. Persistence of the discrete population segment in an 
ecological setting unusual or unique for the taxon,
    2. Evidence that loss of the discrete population segment would 
result in a significant gap in the range of a taxon,
    3. Evidence that the discrete population segment represents the 
only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more 
abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historic 
range, or
    4. Evidence that the discrete population segment differs 
markedly from other populations of this species in its genetic 

    Both the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones could be 
considered a unique ecological setting, because they contain low 
elevation inland habitat for grizzly bears. Along the Yaak River and on 
the east side of the Selkirk Mountains significant portions of the 
recovery zone occur in areas between 610 meters (2,000 feet) and 1,220 
meters (4,000 feet) in elevation. In both the Yellowstone and Northern 
Continental Divide recovery zones most habitat is well above 1,220 
meters (4,000 feet) in elevation. These low elevations and the Pacific 
maritime climate of the Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirks produce a wet, dense 
forest dominated largely by cedar and hemlock. These habitat types are 
either limited or lacking in the Yellowstone and Northern Continental 
Divide recovery areas and represent an unusual ecological setting for 
inland grizzly bear populations.
    A combined Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone would encompass at 
least 9,320 square-kilometers (3,600 square-miles) of the 98,420 
square-kilometers (38,000 square-miles) of grizzly bear habitat in the 
United States. This is about 9.5 percent of currently designated 
habitat, but likely represents a much larger fraction when compared to 
currently occupied habitat. The North Cascades and Bitterroot recovery 
zones encompass at least 38,590 square-kilometers (14,900 square-
miles), but there appear to be no bears remaining in the Bitterroot and 
less than 20 animals are believed to exist in the North Cascades. Only 
the Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide recovery zones hold 
populations in excess of 100 animals. In this regard, the combined 
Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak becomes one of only three recovery areas that hold 
a significant populations of bears. Loss of this population would 
create a significant gap in the range of a species that already exists 
as only 2 percent of its former numbers and on only 2 percent of its 
original range in the 48 conterminous States. Based on these factors, 
we find that these combined recovery zones are significant. Therefore, 
for the remainder of this notice we will address the combined Selkirk/
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone.

Status of the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones

    Section 4 of the Endangered Species Act and regulations (50 CFR 
part 424) promulgated to implement the listing provisions of the 
Endangered Species Act set forth the procedures for adding species to 
the Federal lists. A species may be determined to be endangered or 
threatened due to one or more of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1). These factors and their application to the Selkirk and 
Cabinet-Yaak populations of grizzly bears are as follows:

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

    The 1975 listing of the grizzly bear identified a substantial 
decrease in the range of the species in the conterminous 48 States and 
stated that timbering and other practices have resulted in an increase 
in access road and trail construction into formerly inaccessible

[[Page 26728]]

areas. Increased access has made bears susceptible to legal hunters, 
illegal poachers, human-bear conflicts, and livestock-bear conflicts. 
Since 1975, habitat protection measures have focused on providing 
secure habitat for bears that lessens opportunity for human-caused 
    The United States portion of the Selkirk recovery zone is 
approximately 80 percent Federal, 15 percent State, and 5 percent 
private lands. The Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone is approximately 90 
percent Federal, 5 percent State, and 5 percent private lands. The 
Kootenai, Idaho Panhandle, Colville, and Lolo National Forests 
administer Federal lands within one or both of these recovery zones. 
However, the Kootenai and Idaho Panhandle National Forests alone 
administer over 85 percent of these Federal lands. In 1992, 420 square-
kilometers (162 square-miles) of habitat was added to the Selkirk 
recovery zone in the United States. The area was added because of 
frequent use by radio-collared bears during spring (Wakkinen and Zager 
1992). Most of that land is under jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest 
Service with some State of Idaho land and some private land. In 1997, 
the Kootenai National Forest completed a land exchange in which 8,670 
hectares (21,422 acres) of land owned by Plum Creek Timber Company were 
placed in public ownership. Almost all of this land was within the 
Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bear recovery zone. In the British Columbia 
portion of the Selkirk recovery zone, about 65 percent is crown land 
(public) and 35 percent is private. The portion of British Columbia 
directly north of the Cabinet-Yaak is largely crown land with the 
exception of the Moyie and Kootenay River valleys.
    Two large silver and copper mines have been proposed within the 
Cabinet Mountains. In 1993 the Kootenai National Forest issued an 
approval to Noranda Minerals Corporation for the Montanore project, but 
there has been no construction at the site. This mine is projected to 
operate for 16 years and to extract 18,000 metric tons (20,000 short 
tons) of ore per day. Asarco's Rock Creek Mine proposal is currently 
being analyzed with a decision expected in 1999. If approved it would 
operate for about 30 years, extracting 9,000 metric tons (10,000 short 
tons) of ore per day. These mine sites are about 10 kilometers (6 
miles) apart with one on each side of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness 
(Kootenai National Forest 1998).
    Access management in the form of restrictions on motorized vehicle 
use of some roads originated in the late 1970s on the National Forests 
within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones. Most road 
restrictions have been accomplished with gates or permanent barriers. 
Gates have been used in cases where restrictions are seasonal to 
protect specific habitat at critical times of the year or in areas that 
are scheduled for additional timber management. Recently land managers 
have begun obliterating some roads and returning the land to its 
natural contour (Idaho Panhandle National Forest 1998, Kootenai 
National Forest 1998).
    Three ranger districts on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest 
administer portions of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak recovery zones. 
Thirty-eight percent of the 4627 kilometers (2,876 miles) of system 
roads on these districts have some form of restricted access (Idaho 
Panhandle National Forest 1998). The Kootenai National Forest has 57 
percent of its 12,000 kilometers (7,460 miles) of roads under some form 
of restricted access (Kootenai National Forest 1998). Most of these 
restrictions occur in grizzly bear habitat. Access management has been 
monitored through Forest Plan criteria that measure Habitat 
Effectiveness. These criteria are applied on subunits of the recovery 
zone known as Bear Management Units (BMUs) which were expected to be 
about 260 square-kilometers (100 square-miles) and contain all seasonal 
ranges necessary for an adult female grizzly bear. A criterion defined 
in the Kootenai Forest Plan is that 70 percent or greater of the BMU 
will be effective habitat. The criterion defined in the Idaho Panhandle 
Forest Plan is that 181 square-kilometers (70 square-miles) or greater 
of the BMU will be effective habitat. Effective habitat is defined as 
area outside the zone of influence (0.25 mile) of activities on open 
roads, active timber sales, or active mining operations. In 1990, 9 of 
21 BMUs in the Cabinet-Yaak were below standard and 2 of 7 BMUs were 
below standard in the Selkirk recovery zone. In 1997, 7 of 21 BMUs in 
the Cabinet-Yaak was below standard and 1 of 8 BMUs was below standard 
in the Selkirk recovery zone (Kootenai National Forest 1998, Idaho 
Panhandle National Forest 1998). Cabinet-Yaak BMUs not meeting the 
criterion varied from 57-68 percent effective habitat. The BMU not 
meeting the standard in the Selkirks was at 179 square-kilometers (69 
    Access management also has been addressed by an interagency task 
force that produced recommendations to standardize definitions and 
methods (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 1994). This report 
identified three parameters that are recommended as part of access 
management. These parameters are total motorized route density, open 
motorized route density, and core area. Total motorized route density 
includes open and restricted roads and motorized trails. Open motorized 
route density includes roads and trails open to public motorized use. 
Both parameters are displayed as a percentage of the analysis area in a 
defined density category (e.g., 20 percent greater than 3.2 kilometers 
per square kilometer (2.0 miles per square mile)). Core area is the 
percentage of the analysis area that contains no motorized travel 
routes or any restricted roads upon which administrative use may occur. 
Core areas may contain roads that are impassible due to permanent 
barriers or vegetation. The report recommended that for each recovery 
zone specific criteria be developed for route densities and core areas 
based on female grizzly bears monitored in the recovery zone, other 
research results, and social or other management considerations.
    The interagency group of managers for the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak 
recovery zones are adopting new interim access rules during 1999 
(Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 1998). The interim period will 
extend for 3 years. Existing Forest Plan standards will remain in place 
during the interim period, but additional goals will be developed 
taking into account monitoring results from collared bears (Wakkinen 
and Kasworm 1997). Additional goals relating to cores were adopted for 
a subset of BMUs determined by a priority ranking based on sightings of 
grizzly bears, sightings of female bears with young, and grizzly bear 
mortality. Priority 1 BMUs would have a goal of 55 percent core area 
during the interim period. In place of specific goals for open and 
total motorized route densities in priority 1 BMUs, the committee of 
managers adopted a policy of no net increase in either of these 
parameters for the interim period. The policy for BMUs not designated 
priority 1 includes no net decrease in cores and no net increase in 
open and total motorized route densities. Seventeen of 32 BMU's were 
designated priority 1 and will be subject to the new goals. The 
committee of managers requested additional analysis during the interim 
period. The report analyzing results from collared bears was not able 
to integrate habitat quality with road effects because habitat data was 
not yet available (Wakkinen and Kasworm 1997). Habitat quality data 
will be developed and integrated into additional analysis of roads on 
grizzly bears during the interim period.
    Forestry, mining, recreation, and road building also affect grizzly 
bear habitat

[[Page 26729]]

in British Columbia. In 1995 the British Columbia provincial government 
developed a grizzly bear conservation strategy (British Columbia 
Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks 1995). The strategy's mandate 
is to ensure the continued existence of grizzly bears and their 
habitats for future generations. The strategy has four goals:

    1. To maintain in perpetuity the heterozygosity and abundance of 
grizzly bears and the ecosystems.
    2. To improve the management of grizzly bears and their 
interactions with humans.
    3. To increase public knowledge of grizzly bears and their 
    4. To increase international cooperation in management and 
research of grizzly bears.

    A major goal of the British Columbia Grizzly Bear Conservation 
Strategy is to ensure effective, enhanced protection and management of 
habitat through land use planning processes, new protected areas, and 
the Forest Practices Code. Many of these processes are ongoing, and 
have not had the opportunity to achieve the stated goals of grizzly 
bear habitat protection.
    Canadian coordination and cooperation have been strengthened 
through participation in the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 
composed of State and Federal branches of the United States government 
with jurisdiction over management of grizzly bears and their habitat. 
We have a scientific representative on the British Columbia Grizzly 
Bear Scientific Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations 
directly to the Minister of Environment concerning grizzly bear policy 
and management. This committee is composed of government and 
independent grizzly bear scientists from Canada and a scientific 
representative from the United States (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator) who review all aspects of grizzly 
bear management and research policy in British Columbia.
    The committee was recently critical of the government of British 
Columbia regarding commitment and timely implementation of the Grizzly 
Bear Conservation Strategy (British Columbia Grizzly Bear Scientific 
Advisory Committee 1998). In the 1998 report card issued by the 
committee, 18 grades were given--1 ``A,'' 2 ``B's,'' 5 ``C's,'' 4 
``D's,'' and 6 ``F's.'' Grades of ``A'' and ``B'' were given for 
international liaison, bear viewing, and education. Most habitat 
protection grades were F's, and the key area of funding also received 
an F. Two major criticisms were that ``no Grizzly Bear Management Areas 
have been established to ensure benchmark, linkage and core areas are 
delineated and that the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy has not 
been implemented to protect critical habitats of grizzly bear under the 
Forest Practices Code.''
    The provincial ministry has responded to these criticisms and 
recently released the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy as part 
of the Forest Practices Code (British Columbia Ministry of Environment, 
Lands, and Parks 1998a).
    The Forest Practices Code was recently updated with specific 
prescriptions for grizzly bear habitat under the Identified Wildlife 
Management Strategy (Forest Practices Code 1999). It should be noted 
that these prescriptions have not yet been applied because they are new 
(February 1999) and will require monitoring to determine their 
effectiveness in protecting grizzly bear habitat on crown lands. 
However, it is useful to examine what is proposed to be protected under 
this body of regulation. Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs) will be 
established based on grizzly bear population and habitat objectives 
consistent with the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy. These WHAs will 
fall into two categories--security and foraging. Security WHAs are 
intended to maintain ecological integrity of critical habitat patches 
and to ensure security of the bears using these patches. Foraging WHAs 
attempt to compensate for habitat alteration, degradation, or loss of 
important areas in landscape units by maintaining habitat values in 
other areas. They also may be established to maintain security, thermal 
cover, or linkage among important habitats. Priority for WHA 
establishment will be in districts adjoining United States grizzly bear 
habitat along the international boundary. These are areas where the 
British Columbia government has identified the conservation status of 
these populations as threatened. This designation should not be 
confused with the United States designation as ``threatened'' under the 
Endangered Species Act, rather it is a provincial method for 
identifying populations that may be threatened with decline. Specific 
objectives for security WHA's include no road or trail building and no 
forestry practices unless they are designed to restore or enhance 
degraded habitat. Specific objectives for foraging WHA's include timber 
harvest without roading, deactivation of nonpermanent roads after 
harvest, practices other than clearcutting to maintain cover, and 
practices that stimulate regrowth of forage species for bears.
    Other recent additions to the Forest Practices Code include 
recommendations for higher level planning at the level of grizzly bear 
population units which are currently being delineated (Forest Practices 
Code 1999). These recommendations are not mandatory and may be modified 
based on the capability of the land to support grizzly bears, current 
condition or effectiveness of the habitat, status of the grizzly bear 
population, and other resource objectives. Some recommendations made 
include--minimize open road densities to 0.6 kilometer per square 
kilometer (0.36 mile per square mile) of habitat, deactivate and 
revegetate temporary roads, consider closing access in subbasins of 
important grizzly bear valleys for 50 years after timber management, 
and schedule forestry activities to avoid displacing bears from 
preferred habitat during periods of seasonal use. If these 
recommendations are implemented, they could represent a step toward 
significant habitat protection measures for grizzly bears in British 
    The British Columbia Protected Area Strategy seeks to enlarge the 
area of the province set aside in parks and protected areas from 7-12 
percent by the year 2000. Protected areas include national parks, 
provincial parks, and other designations that are quite similar to the 
United States wilderness designation. British Columbia has increased 
the amount of area in protected areas from 6.8 percent of the province 
in 1990 to 10.6 percent of the province in 1997 and appears to be 
within reach of their goal of 12 percent by the year 2000 (British 
Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks 1998b). The goal of 
12 percent protected areas has been applied to the entire province and 
there are some regions within the province that may have more or less 
than the goal. The province was divided into 11 ecoprovinces and 112 
subunits known as ecosections. The ecoprovince just north of the 
Selkirk, Cabinet-Yaak, and Northern Continental Divide recovery zones 
is referenced as the Southern Interior Mountains. The percentage of 
protected areas in this region has increased from 11.3 percent in 1990 
to 16.1 percent in 1997. The subunit that comprises the Selkirk 
recovery zone (Southern Columbia Mountains) has increased from 0.3 
percent in 1991 to 6.4 percent in 1997 and the subunit directly north 
of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone (McGillivray Range) has increased 
from 0.1 percent in 1991 to 1.3 percent in 1997.
    Habitat protection measures implemented in the United States 
portion of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak

[[Page 26730]]

recovery areas since listing in 1975 have improved and protected 
grizzly bear habitat. However, several large mines in Montana, if 
approved, may threaten bears, and access standards established by the 
U.S. Forest Service and the Service have not been met in their 
entirety. In British Columbia, habitat protection is not controlled by 
the Endangered Species Act and Canada has no similar legislation, 
although the British Columbia Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy is an 
important step toward grizzly bear conservation. Habitat modification 
in Canada, particularly in the linkage zone, could isolate populations. 
We will begin discussions to reevaluate the existing recovery zone line 
in Canada and determine if additional linkages may be beneficial to 
grizzly bear conservation. We will continue to monitor and make 
recommendations regarding grizzly bear conservation strategies within 
British Columbia.
    At this point in time, we feel that protective measures have not 
achieved desired goals for habitat protection in either the United 
States or Canada. Because this may pose a significant threat to the 
grizzly bear population in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone, 
endangered status for that population is warranted.

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

    An assessment of overutilization should consider current grizzly 
bear population size and mortality occurring within the Selkirk/
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone.

Population Size

    In the Selkirk recovery zone, Wielgus et al. (1994) estimated 
densities of 3.65 bears per 260 square-kilometers (100 square-miles) of 
the 873-square kilometer (337-square mile) United States study area and 
6.03 bears per 260 square-kilometers (100 square-miles) of the 816-
square kilometer (315-square mile) Canadian study area. This results in 
population estimates of 12 bears in the United States study area and 19 
bears in the Canadian study area. The Selkirk recovery zone encompasses 
5,069 square-kilometers (1,957 square-miles), of which 2,800 square-
kilometers (1,081 square-miles) are in the United States and 2,269 
square-kilometers (876 square-miles) are in Canada. These study areas 
represent only 33 percent of the recovery zone. Application of the 
study area densities to the entire recovery zone would not be 
appropriate because the study areas were selected in part because they 
were believed to hold the highest densities of bears on their 
respective sides of the border. However, grizzly bears do occur on 
lands outside the study area. Sightings of grizzly bears have occurred 
in all 10 subunits of the United States portion of the recovery zone 
and sightings of females with young have occurred in 8 of 10 of those 
same subunits from 1994-1997 (Wakkinen and Johnson 1996, Interagency 
Grizzly Bear Committee 1998). The Wielgus United States study area was 
the equivalent of only three of those subunits. Over one-half of United 
States and Canadian mortality has occurred outside the study area 
    These data indicate that there are additional bears living outside 
the Wielgus et al. (1994) study area boundaries. We conservatively 
estimate that grizzly bear density outside the study area might be much 
smaller, possibly 25 percent of the study area density estimated by 
Wielgus et al. (1994). Applying 25 percent of these density estimates 
to their respective portions of the recovery zone outside the study 
area results in eight additional bears in Canada and seven additional 
bears in the United States. Combining this estimate of 15 bears outside 
the study areas with the estimate of 31 within the study areas results 
in a conservative population estimate of 46 for the entire Selkirk 
recovery zone.
    In the case of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone, separate population 
estimates were made for the Cabinet Mountains and the Yaak River 
drainage. The Cabinet Mountains lie south of the Yaak River drainage 
and contain about 60 percent of the recovery zone. In the Cabinet 
Mountains the population was estimated to be 15 bears or fewer in 1988 
(Kasworm and Manley 1988). There is insufficient data to dramatically 
change that estimate, but since then the population was augmented with 
four young females, and there have been sightings of individual bears 
in 6 of 10 BMU's that make up the Cabinet Mountains, with sightings of 
females with young in 4 BMU's since the completion of transplants 
(Kasworm et al. 1998, Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 1998). The 
Yaak River drainage adjoins grizzly bear habitat in British Columbia 
and contains about 40 percent of the recovery zone. In the Yaak, 
unduplicated counts of bears over 3-year intervals and total counts for 
the period of 1989-1998 indicate a minimum population of 21-27 animals 
(Kasworm 1999a). Based on these data, the population of the Cabinet-
Yaak recovery zone can be conservatively estimated at 30-40 grizzly 


    In our 1996 submission to the court, we failed to include three 
mortalities in 1993 and 1995, and we have received information on 
additional mortalities from the British Columbia Fish and Wildlife 
Branch and Idaho Department of Fish and Game from 1982 through 1998. We 
analyzed mortality summaries from both the Cabinet-Yaak and the 
Selkirks, including mortalities of bears within the recovery zone, as 
well as bears captured within the recovery zone that subsequently died 
outside the recovery zone. We included three mortalities that occurred 
well outside the recovery zone to provide a conservative estimate of 
mortality rates. Total known mortality for the Selkirks was 34, and 
known human-caused mortality was 26 from 1982-1998. Total known 
mortality for the Cabinet-Yaak was 14 and known human-caused mortality 
was 10 from 1982-1998. The known human-caused mortality rate was 1.53 
deaths per year in the Selkirks and 0.59 deaths per year in the 
Cabinet-Yaak. The grizzly bear recovery plan (U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service 1993) estimated that known human-caused mortality represented 
67 percent of total human-caused mortality. Recent research indicates 
that known human-caused mortality may represent only 50 percent of 
total human-caused mortality in the northern grizzly bear recovery 
zones (McLellan et al. in press). However, it should be noted that the 
authors determined this proportion on the basis of radio-collared bears 
whose mortality would not have been known without the collars. 
Therefore, application of this correction factor to known human-caused 
mortality should recognize that mortality determined because of a radio 
collar should not have the correction factor included. Five of 26 
human-caused mortalities from the Selkirk recovery zone were located on 
the basis of radio telemetry. Two of the 10 mortalities from the 
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone were located on the basis of radio 
telemetry. Applying the 50 percent correction factor to the remaining 
known human-caused mortalities results in a total estimate of 47 
mortalities for the Selkirks and 18 for the Cabinet-Yaak from 1982-
1998. Average annual mortality would be 2.76 for the Selkirks and 1.06 
for the Cabinet-Yaak. Based upon a population size of 46 for the 
Selkirks, the annual known and unknown human-caused mortality rate is 
6.0 percent for 1982-1998. Based upon a population size of 30-40 for 
the Cabinet-Yaak, the annual known and unknown mortality rate would be 
2.7-3.5 percent. Combining the human-

[[Page 26731]]

caused mortality data from both recovery zones results in average 
annual mortality of 3.82 bears per year. Based on a combined population 
of 76-86, the annual known and unknown human-caused mortality rate 
would be 4.4-5.0 percent. Four mortalities within the British Columbia 
portion of the Selkirk recovery zone were legal kills during the 
grizzly bear hunting season. This hunting season was closed in 1995.
    The grizzly bear recovery plan cites a modeling procedure by Harris 
(1986) that estimated grizzly bear populations could sustain a 6 
percent rate of human-caused mortality. The use of this model on 
smaller populations than those modeled by Harris (approximately 450) 
has been debated. This model considered an isolated population where no 
ingress or egress is possible. Though populations in the Selkirk/
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone are well below this level even when 
combined, radio monitoring data indicates there is egress from these 
populations to a common area and therefore these populations are 
connected to a much larger population extending north into British 
Columbia. This population has been estimated to be 446-577 (Simpson et 
al. 1995), not including either of the recovery zones, and may be much 
larger based upon ingress and egress with other British Columbia 
grizzly bear populations. Ingress and egress also improve population 
viability by providing sources of repopulation in the event of 
stochastic events that might radically depress the population, such as 
weather patterns dramatically affecting food supplies for several 
consecutive years. The Harris (1986) model further stated that human-
caused mortality of females should not exceed 30 percent of the total. 
Human-caused female mortality was 26 percent for the Selkirks and 33 
percent for the Cabinet-Yaak (see Table 1). Combining data from both 
recovery zones results in female mortality at 28 percent.

Population Trend

    Application of new computer modeling techniques allows calculation 
of finite rate of increase of the population (lambda ) with a 
confidence interval (Hovey and McLellan 1996, Mace and Waller 1998). 
Though not a specific recovery criterion, this information is available 
for both recovery zones. Calculation of the rate is based upon survival 
and reproduction of female radio-collared bears. Specific parameters 
used include--adult female survival, subadult female survival, yearling 
survival, cub survival, age at first parturition, reproductive rate, 
and maximum age of reproduction. Specific methods followed those 
described by Mace and Waller (1998). The estimated finite rate of 
increase () from 1983-1998 was 1.023 (95 percent confidence 
interval = 0.917-1.124) for the Selkirks and 1.100 (0.971-1.177) for 
the Cabinet-Yaak (Wakkinen and Kasworm 1999). Bear years of monitoring 
information available for these calculations were 85.3 for the Selkirks 
and 56.0 for the Cabinet-Yaak. These estimates equate to an annual 
exponential rate of increase (r) of 2.3 percent for the Selkirks and 
9.5 percent for the Cabinet-Yaak. Confidence intervals do encompass 1.0 
or a stable population, and we are unable to conclude that these rates 
statistically reflect an increasing population. Furthermore, 
sensitivity testing of the modeling results suggests that the addition 
of one additional subadult female mortality in the Selkirk radio collar 
sample could push these rates into decline with a projected  = 
0.974 (0.855-1.105). The annual exponential rate of increase (r) in 
this case would be -2.6 percent. However, the previous calculation of 
rates with these techniques for the Selkirks from 1983-1994 produced a 
 = 0.976 and from 1983 to 1996 produced a  = 0.994 
(Servheen et al. 1995 and Wakkinen 1996). Combining the samples from 
the Cabinet-Yaak and the Selkirks for 1983 to 1998 produced an 
intermediate  = 1.059 (0.985-1.126) in which the confidence 
interval still includes 1.0.
    Grizzly bear populations in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone 
appear to be responding to protective measures that reduce mortality. 
Population trends are inconclusive, but it does not appear that 
reclassification is warranted because of overutilization alone, as long 
as habitat connectivity in Canada is maintained. Should populations 
show decline because of increased mortality we will reconsider our 
position on this factor.

C. Disease or Predation

    This factor was not identified as a threat to grizzly bears in the 
original listing. The recovery plan indicates that parasites and 
disease do not appear to be significant causes of natural mortality 
among bears (Jonkel and Cowan 1971, Kistchinskii 1972, Mundy and Flook 
1973, Rogers and Rogers 1976). Research in Alaskan grizzly bears has 
shown previous exposure by some grizzly bears to rangiferine 
brucellosis and leptospirosis, though impacts to populations are 
unknown (Zarnke 1983). The most common internal parasite noted in 
grizzly bears is Trichinella for which 62 percent of grizzly bears 
tested positive from 1969-1981 (Greer 1982). Effects of these levels of 
incidence are unknown but monitoring will continue.
    Mortality summaries from the Yellowstone Ecosystem for 1959-1987 
did not identify disease as a significant factor resulting in mortality 
(Craighead et al. 1988). Only 1 of 477 known mortalities was attributed 
to disease or parasites. Thirty-eight mortalities could not be 
identified by cause and some of these may have been related to disease 
or parasites, but these factors do not appear to be significant causes 
of mortality affecting Yellowstone grizzly bears. Mortality summaries 
from the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone indicate natural mortality 
accounted for 17 percent of total known mortality.
    The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks operates a 
Wildlife Laboratory at Bozeman. One of the Laboratory's objectives is 
to necropsy wildlife specimens suspected of being diseased, 
parasitized, or dying of unknown causes, to identify the cause of death 
(Aune and Schladweiler 1995). Tissue samples are examined by Veterinary 
Pathologists at the State Diagnostic Laboratory. Though disease was not 
considered a threat at the time of listing, we will continue to have 
dead grizzly bears processed through a laboratory to determine cause of 
death and to maintain baseline information on diseases and parasites 
occurring in grizzly bears. This action will serve to continue 
monitoring of these agents as potential mortality sources. If disease 
is later determined to be a threat, we will evaluate and adopt specific 
measures to control the spread of any disease agent and treat infected 
animals, where such measures are possible. These measures will depend 
on the disease agent identified.
    Mortality of grizzly bears through predation has been mostly 
attributed to conspecifics (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee 1987). 
Predation was commonly associated with adult males killing smaller 
individuals. Seventeen percent of all known mortality from the Selkirk/
Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone was of natural causes, some portion of which 
may have been related to predation by conspecifics. Monitoring of this 
factor will continue, but disease and predation do not appear to be 
limiting the population.

D. The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    As a threatened species, the grizzly bear receives protection under 
the Endangered Species Act from illegal take. All Federal actions in 
grizzly bear habitat undergo biological evaluations and consultation 
under section 7 of the Act. The State of Idaho receives section

[[Page 26732]]

6 funding under the Act to assist grizzly bear research and management. 
We have further assisted these research projects by providing personnel 
to capture and radio-collar bears which have been the source of most 
information about these animals in the Selkirk recovery zone. We 
maintain staff located within the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone to assist 
with management and conduct research to monitor survivorship, movement 
patterns, and reproductive success.
    The U.S. Forest Service administers public lands that account for 
80-90 percent of these recovery zones. We review forest management 
plans and individual actions on the forest under section 7 of the Act. 
All plans have habitat protection measures specifically identified for 
grizzly bears known as the Interagency Grizzly Bear Guidelines (1986). 
Individual Forest Plan standards most commonly apply to motorized 
vehicle access management, but also protect movement corridors and 
cover for bears. New Forest Plans being drafted by the U.S. Forest 
Service will undergo similar review.
    The States of Idaho, Montana, and Washington have maintained closed 
hunting seasons for grizzly bears since the animal was listed in 1975. 
British Columbia closed the hunting season in the Selkirk recovery zone 
in 1995 and the area directly north of the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone 
in the 1970s.
    Almost half of the existing Selkirk recovery zone and all of the 
identified linkage with the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone is in Canada. 
Legally mandated habitat protection measures such as those described in 
the United States are absent or only recently being implemented in 
Canada such that their effectiveness cannot be judged at this time (see 
discussion under Factor A).
    Ursus arctos horribilis is included in Appendix II of the 
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna 
and Flora (CITES). The CITES is an international treaty established to 
prevent international trade that may be detrimental to the survival of 
plants and animals. A CITES export permit must be issued by the 
exporting country before an Appendix II species may be shipped. A CITES 
permit may not be issued if the export will be detrimental to the 
survival of the species or if the specimens were not legally acquired. 
However, CITES does not itself regulate take or domestic trade.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting its Continued Existence

    Grizzly bears in the combined Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone 
number less than 100 animals and because of these low numbers are more 
vulnerable to environmental events such as floods, droughts, or fires. 
Grizzly bears tend to live at low densities and have large annual 
ranges that enable them to survive catastrophic events occurring in a 
portion of their range. Grizzly bears as a species have evolved under 
these conditions at low densities. The fires within the Yellowstone 
recovery zone in 1988 burned approximately 485,600 hectares (1.2 
million acres). Two of 38 radio-collared grizzly bears were missing 
after the fires and were initially presumed to have been killed. 
However, subsequent capture activities in the area produced one of the 
missing animals (Blanchard and Knight 1990, Haroldson, pers. comm.). 
The remaining missing animal was a female with cubs of the year.
    The large home ranges of grizzly bears, particularly males, enhance 
genetic diversity in the population by enabling males to mate with 
numerous females. In the Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone a male bear had a 
home range of over 2,850 square-kilometers (1,100 square-miles) from 
1987-1992 (Kasworm and Servheen 1995). This same animal was seen with a 
female grizzly bear late in the breeding season of 1992, after having 
been monitored 64 kilometers (40 miles) northwest in the southern 
Purcell Mountains of British Columbia for 2 weeks early in the breeding 
season. Grizzly bears have a promiscuous mating system. A single radio-
collared adult female from the Cabinet-Yaak was observed over a period 
of 8 years with at least four different males prior to producing four 
litters of cubs, with more than one male present during at least two of 
those breeding seasons (Kasworm 1999b). Though we do not know that all 
these males successfully mated with this female, these observations 
indicate the ability of female bears even in this small population to 
have several mates. Recent genetic studies have determined that cubs 
from the same litter may have different fathers (Craighead et al. 
    These evolutionary strategies allow grizzly bears to exist at low 
population density and maintain genetic diversity. However, linkage 
zone loss, as discussed under Factor A, may have a significant impact 
on bears in the United States by isolating the relatively small 
population in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak, disrupting gene flow between 
the two zones and making the bears more vulnerable to random events.
    High-speed highways are an important factor in grizzly bear habitat 
that can affect habitat use and cause direct mortality. Highway 
reconstruction or expansion can lead to further fragmentation of 
grizzly bear habitat. These projects also can provide opportunities to 
improve crossing opportunities for grizzly bears and other forms of 
wildlife. There are several examples of radio-collared grizzly bears 
crossing existing major highways in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery 
zone, specifically Highways 200, 56, and 92 in the United States 
portion of the recovery zone and Highways 3 and 3A in British Columbia. 
We do not have similar information for Highway 2 or Highway 95, but 
bear populations adjacent to those highways are low and there are 
currently no radio-collared bears in close proximity to those highways. 
We have begun a study of high-speed highways on the periphery of 
Glacier National Park. Results from that study may prove useful in 
identifying impacts related to grizzly bears and making recommendations 
on future highway design and construction to maintain crossing 
opportunities. We are specifically concerned about increasing traffic 
levels and future improvements to the highway system such as creation 
of additional lanes for traffic. We will have an opportunity to monitor 
these activities within the United States through section 7 review of 
all Federal actions while these populations remain listed under the 
Endangered Species Act.
    By virtue of the small population in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak 
recovery zone and low reproductive rate of bears in general, we find 
that the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone warrants endangered status.


    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial 
information available regarding the past, present, and future threats 
faced by this recovery zone. Based on this evaluation, we find that the 
grizzly bears in the combined Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone are in 
danger of extinction due to--(1) habitat alteration and human intrusion 
into grizzly bear habitat, and (2) a small population facing potential 
isolation by activities across the border in Canada. Cumulative impacts 
of recreation, timber harvest, mining, and other forest uses with 
associated road construction have reduced the amount of effective 
habitat for grizzly bears. Access management plans have the potential 
to reduce this threat, but have not been fully implemented. New 
regulatory mechanisms are being proposed in Canada, but we have no 
basis to judge their likelihood of implementation and effectiveness at 
this time. We will continue to work with Canada to ensure

[[Page 26733]]

that the existing linkage zone in Canada is maintained.
    Prior to this notice, we reviewed the status of the finding on the 
Cabinet-Yaak population in September 1992, March 1996, and June 1998. 
In these reviews, we determined that the threats to the grizzly bear 
populations in the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem remained of high magnitude 
and of a nonimminent nature and that a listing priority of 6 for the 
petitioned reclassification remained appropriate.
    On December 6, 1996, we adopted a listing priority guidance for 
Fiscal Year 1997 (61 FR 64475) and this guidance was extended on 
October 23, 1997. Final listing priority guidance for Fiscal Year 1998 
and Fiscal Year 1999 was published in the Federal Register on May 8, 
1998 (63 FR 25502). Both the Fiscal Year 1997 and 1998/1999 guidance 
described a multi-tiered listing approach that assigns relative 
priorities to listing actions to be carried out under section 4 of the 
Endangered Species Act. This guidance supplements, but does not replace 
the 1983 listing priority guidelines.
    Grizzly bear reclassification from threatened to endangered status 
in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone falls into Tier 2 under 
Fiscal Year 1998 and 1999 guidance. Determinations and processing of 
proposed listings to add new species to the lists of threatened and 
endangered species receives higher priority than reclassifications of 
already listed species. Because we must devote listing funds to 
addressing high priority candidate species, preparation of a proposed 
rule to reclassify the grizzly bear in the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak 
recovery zone is warranted but precluded by higher listing priorities.
    The Notice of Review of Plant and Animal Taxa published in the 
Federal Register on September 19, 1997 (62 FR 49397), provided a 
discussion of the expeditious progress made in the past year on listing 
decisions and findings on recycled petitions throughout all regions of 
the Service. In that publication, we provided notice of review of 18 
recycled petitions and described our progress in completing final 
listing actions for 152 taxa, proposed listing actions for 23 taxa, and 
a proposed delisting action for 1 taxa.
    Since publication of the 12-month finding on the Cabinet-Yaak 
ecosystem in 1993, we have made expeditious progress in making listing 
decisions on 19 candidate species in the Mountain-Prairie Region 
(Region 6). At the present time, there are an additional 16 candidate 
species with listing priority numbers of 1-5 in Region 6. These listing 
priority numbers are higher than the listing priority number of 6 
currently given to reclassification of the grizzly bear in the North 
Cascades and the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystems.
    We affirm that the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak recovery zone of grizzly 
bears continues to face threats of high magnitude that are nonimminent, 
and, therefore, are assigned a listing priority of 6. Work on species 
with a listing priority of 6 is precluded by work on species of a 
higher priority.

References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this notice is available 
upon request from the Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES 
    Author: The primary author of this document is Wayne Kasworm (see 
ADDRESSES section).


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

    Dated: May 6, 1999.
Jamie Rappaport Clark,
Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-12318 Filed 5-14-99; 8:45 am]