FEDERAL REGISTER, Vol. 70, No. 004, Rules and Regulations, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 50 CFR Part 17, RIN 1018-AH55, 70 FR 1190
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Mariana Fruit Bat (Pteropus mariannus mariannus): Reclassification From Endangered to Threatened in the Territory of Guam and Listing as Threatened in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
Action: FINAL RULE
This final rule downgrades the Mariana fruit bat from endangered to threatened throughout its range in the Mariana archipelago, which is subject to US jurisdiction. The reason for the down grade is the FWS initially made a mistake in the taxonomy of the Mariana fruit bat. When the FWS listed the bat as endangered on Guam in 1984, it believed that the bat was a species only endemic to Guam. Since that time, the FWS has discovered that the bat is endemic to the entire Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and the Territory of Guam, thus there is actually a larger number of bats with a wider distribution. Yet, threats to the Mariana fruit bat still remain, so its listing as threatened is still warranted. Additionally, it is more convenient for the FWS to update the listing of the Mariana fruit bat to threatened in the entire Mariana archipelago, than to keep the species in the Guam as endangered and hold the remainder of the archipelago as threatened.
- The Mariana archipelago is a set of 15 islands made up of the CNMI and Guam.
- The Mariana fruit bat is an endemic species, meaning that they are found nowhere but the Mariana archipelago.
- The habitat of the Mariana fruit bat is native forest, and they forage in coconut groves.
- Fruit bats are important components of tropical forest ecosystems because they disperse plant seeds and thereby help maintain forest diversity and contribute to plant regeneration following typhoons and other catastrophic events (Cox et al. 1992).
- The fruit bat had seen a step decrease in habitat due to:
o Agriculture, such as large sugar plantations, and free-roaming livestock have converted much of the native forest to pasture,
o Steady increase in the human population in the archipelago,
o Destruction of native forest during bombing and extensive military development during World War II,
o Domination of alien vegetation in native forests as a result of the introduction of nonnative plant species to prevent erosion,
o Feral ungulates (wild hoofed animals [goats, pigs, cattle, etc.])
o Eruption of the Anatahan volcano in 2003 and continuing volcanic activity
Previous Federal Action
- listed as endangered on Guam in 1984
- proposed rule published expressing the intent of the FWS to list the Mariana fruit bat in Guam and all of the rest CNMIs as threatened on 3/26/98
- this act was published pursuant to a settlement agreement issued by the court in Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton.