50 CFR § 21.123 - Special double-crested cormorant permit.

§ 21.123 Special double-crested cormorant permit.

(a) What is the special double-crested cormorant permit, and what is its purpose? The special double-crested cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) permit is a permit issued by the Service to State or Tribal fish and wildlife agencies that authorizes specific take activities that are normally prohibited and are intended to relieve or prevent impacts from cormorants on lands or in waters managed by those agencies and within those agencies' jurisdiction. We will issue such a permit only when we determine that an application submitted by a State or Tribal fish and wildlife agency meets the requirements set forth in paragraph (c) of this section. The take activities conducted under the permit are intended to reduce or prevent conflicts associated with cormorants for the following concerns:

(1) Depredation of fish at State- and Tribal-owned or operated aquaculture facilities, including hatcheries;

(2) Realized and potential impacts to human health and safety (e.g., collisions of airplanes with birds, fecal contamination of urban wetlands);

(3) Impacts to threatened and endangered species (species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and species identified in State- or Tribal-specific legislation as threatened or endangered) or those listed as Species of Greatest Conservation Need in State Wildlife Action Plans, where take activities to prevent depredation on aquatic Species of Greatest Conservation Need may occur only in natural or public waters;

(4) Damage to State- or Tribal-owned property and assets; and

(5) Depredation of wild and publicly stocked fish managed by State fish and wildlife agencies or federally recognized Tribes and accessible to the public or all Tribal members.

(b) Who may receive a permit? Only State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies are eligible to receive a permit to undertake management and take activities. Additionally, only employees or subpermittees of a permitted State or Tribal fish and wildlife agency designated on the permit application may undertake activities for double-crested cormorants in accordance with the conditions specified in the permit, conditions specified in 50 CFR part 13, other requirements set forth in this section, and conditions specified in paragraph (d) of this section.

(c) How does a State or Tribe apply for a permit? Any State or federally recognized Tribal fish and wildlife agency wishing to obtain a permit must submit an application (FWS Form 3-200-90) to the appropriate Regional Director (see § 13.11(b) of this subchapter) containing the general information and certification required by § 13.12(a) of this subchapter plus the following information:

(1) A description of your State's or Tribe's double-crested cormorant conflicts, including physical location(s) and type of conflict specified in paragraph (a) of this section;

(2) A detailed description of the nonlethal methods (i.e., active hazing, passive hazing, habitat management, and changes in management practices) you have and/or will implement and how take activities will address one or more of the issues specified in paragraph (a) of this section;

(3) The requested annual take of double-crested cormorants by life-stage, including eggs and nests;

(4) A description of long-term plans to eliminate or significantly reduce continued need to take double-crested cormorants;

(5) A statement indicating that the State or Tribe will inform and brief all employees and subpermittees of the requirements of these regulations and permit conditions;

(6) A list of all subpermittees who may conduct activities under the special double-crested cormorant permit, including their names, addresses, and telephone numbers; and

(7) The name and telephone number of the individual in your agency who will oversee the double-crested cormorant management activities authorized under the permit.

(d) What are the conditions of the permit? The special double-crested cormorant permits are subject to the conditions specified in the permit, the general conditions in 50 CFR part 13, and other requirements set forth elsewhere in this section, and, unless otherwise specifically authorized on the permit, the following conditions:

(1) What are the limitations on management and take activities? Take of double-crested cormorants under this section may not exceed the number authorized by the permit. In addition, permittees must adhere to these provisions:

(i) States and Tribes must implement nonlethal methods, and independently determine that those methods are insufficient at resolving depredation conflicts, before taking double-crested cormorants.

(ii) A permit under this section does not authorize the take of any other migratory bird, including other species of cormorants; the take of bald or golden eagles; or the take of any species federally listed as threatened or endangered. If take of those species is likely to occur, the permittee must obtain permits specifically authorizing that take (i.e., permits under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, or the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended).

(iii) Methods of take for double-crested cormorants are at the State's or Tribe's discretion. Take of double-crested cormorants may occur by means of humane lethal take or active nest take. Lethal take of adults during the breeding season should occur prior to hatching of eggs. Adult birds may not be taken at any nest with young in it unless the take of adults addresses a human health and safety issue. States and Tribes and their subpermittees must make efforts to avoid disturbance to co-nesting species. Lethal take may occur by firearm in accordance with paragraph (d)(1)(iv) of this section or lethal or live traps. Active nest take may occur by egg oiling or destruction of nest material and contents (including viable eggs and chicks). Birds may be euthanized by cervical dislocation, CO2 asphyxiation, or other methods recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Only 100 percent corn oil, a substance exempted from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, may be used to oil eggs. Other damage control methods of take consistent with accepted wildlife damage management programs may be authorized.

(iv) Take using firearms (other than an air rifle or air pistol) must use nontoxic shot or nontoxic bullets (see § 20.21 of this subchapter).

(v) Individuals conducting lethal take activities may not use decoys, calls, or other devices or bait to lure birds within gun range.

(vi) States and Tribes applying for the first time must consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services for an assessment of the appropriate level of take and provide recommendations of short-term measures to provide relief from depredation and long-term measures to help eliminate or significantly reduce conflicts. First-time applicants must include a completed “Form 37 Permit Review” from Wildlife Services. Permittees need not submit a Form 37 for renewal applications unless requested by the regional Migratory Bird Permit Office. Permittees should continue working with Wildlife Services for review of conflict management approaches and anticipated level of take, and to remain current on effective strategies for nonlethal removal.

(2) When may a State or Tribe conduct management and control activities? Actions may occur only when cormorants are committing or are about to commit depredations. State and Tribal employees and approved subpermittees may conduct management activities, including lethal take, at any time of year.

(3) How must States and Tribes dispose of or utilize cormorants taken under this permit? Unless otherwise authorized on your permit, double-crested cormorants taken under this permit may be temporarily possessed and transported for the purposes of disposal under the regulations in this section. Double-crested cormorants must be disposed of by donation to an entity authorized by permit or regulation to receive migratory birds, such as a public museum or public institution for scientific or educational purposes, or be destroyed completely by burial or incineration in accordance with Federal, State, and/or local laws and ordinances. States, Tribes, their employees, and subpermittees may not sell, offer for sale, barter, or ship for the purpose of sale or barter any double-crested cormorants taken under this section or their parts or eggs. Birds may not be retained for personal use.

(4) How does the permit relate to existing State and Tribal law and Federal land? Permits under this section do not authorize the take of double-crested cormorants contrary to any State or Tribal laws or regulations or on any Federal land without specific written authorization by the responsible management agency. Prior to taking double-crested cormorants pursuant to a permit under this section, the permittee must obtain any permits required by State, Tribal, or other Federal law or regulation.

(5) How will the Service ensure that persons conducting control activities have the authority to do so? Any State or Tribal employee or approved subpermittee authorized to carry out management and take activities must have a copy of the permit and, if appropriate, the subpermittee's designation in their possession when carrying out any activities. The scope of this permit applies to lands or in waters managed by State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies and within those agencies' jurisdictions. If a State or Tribe must enter private property to access State and Tribal lands or waters where take is approved in their permit, the State or Tribe must obtain authorization from the private property owner, and require that the private property owner or occupant provide free and unrestricted access. The private property owner or occupant should also allow access at all reasonable times, including during actual operations, to any Service special agent or refuge officer, State or Tribal wildlife or deputy wildlife agent, warden, protector, or other wildlife law enforcement officer on the premises where they are, or were, conducting activities. Furthermore, any State or Tribal employee or approved subpermittee conducting such activities must promptly furnish information concerning such activities to any such wildlife officer.

(6) What are the reporting requirements of the permit? Any State or Tribal agency, when exercising the privileges of this permit, must keep records of all activities, including those of subpermittees, carried out under the authority of the special permit, including the number of double-crested cormorants taken and their disposition. Any other species of bird taken incidentally to double-crested cormorant management activities under this permit, along with the numbers of birds taken of those species, also must be reported. The State or Tribe must submit an annual report (FWS Form 3-202-56) detailing activities and purpose for take, including the date birds were taken, numbers, and locations and life stage of birds, eggs, and nests taken and nonlethal techniques utilized, by January 31 for activities conducted during the preceding calendar year. The State or Tribe must submit the annual report to the appropriate Migratory Bird Permit Office (see § 2.2 of this subchapter).

(7) What are the limitations of this permit? The following limitations apply:

(i) Nothing in this section applies to any Federal land within a State's or Tribe's boundaries without written permission of the Federal agency with jurisdiction.

(ii) We will issue permits only to State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies in the conterminous (i.e., contiguous 48) United States.

(iii) States and Tribes may designate subpermittees who must operate under the conditions of the permit. Subpermittees can be employees of State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services employees, employees of other Federal, State, or Tribal agencies, or private companies licensed to conduct wildlife damage abatement and under direct control of the permittee.

(iv) A special double-crested cormorant permit issued or renewed under the regulations in this section expires on the date designated on the face of the permit unless it is amended or revoked, or at such time we determine that conflicts with cormorants within the bounds of the specific population of double-crested cormorants have been reduced to the point where lethal take is no longer necessary. In all cases, the term of the permit may not exceed 1 year from the date of issuance or renewal.

(v) We reserve the right to suspend or revoke any permit, as specified in §§ 13.27 and 13.28 of this subchapter.

(e) What are the OMB information collection requirements of the permit program? OMB has approved the information collection requirements of the permit and assigned OMB Control Number 1018-0175. Federal agencies may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. Direct comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of the information collection to the Service's Information Collection Clearance Officer at the address provided at 50 CFR 2.1(b).

[85 FR 85555, Dec. 29, 2020. Redesignated and amended at 87 FR 881, 882, Jan. 7, 2022]

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