The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that the final determination of whether to list four subspecies of Mazama pocket gophers for protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act will be delayed for up to six months.
The extension will allow the agency time to address issues raised during previous comment periods, according to a news release. The action also opens a 45-day public comment period on the proposed listing, an associated proposal to designate critical habitat for the subspecies, and an associated 4(d) special rule.
The four subspecies are the Roy Prairie, Olympia, Tenino, and Yelm pocket gophers.
In a concurrent action, the Service announced it is removing five other subspecies of Mazama pocket gopher from consideration for ESA protection. One of the five subspecies is considered extinct (Tacoma pocket gopher), another was found to be a taxonomic error (Brush Prairie pocket gopher), and three (Olympic pocket gopher, Cathlamet pocket gopher and the Shelton pocket gopher) do not face sufficient threats to warrant protection.
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Comments may be submitted online at the Federal Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. The docket numbers for the proposed actions are FWS–R1–ES–2012–0088 (for endangered species listing) or FWS–R1–ES–2013–0021 (for designation of critical habitat ). Comments may also be sent by U.S. mail to: Public Comment Processing, ATTN: (cite appropriate docket number), Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM, Arlington, VA 22203. Comments will be accepted through 8:59 p.m., October 18, 2013.