Background

The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments through April 10 on a draft environmental assessment of its export program for native furbearer species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Bobcat, river otter, Canada lynx, gray wolf, and brown bear have been listed in CITES Appendix II since the 1970s. As a result, exports of these species (including parts and products thereof) from the U.S. require a CITES export permit issued by the FWS. Before such a permit can be issued the FWS must be able to determine that the export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species and that the specimens to be exported have not been obtained in violation of laws for their protection.

The CITES export program for these animals provides for a more streamlined and efficient permitting process. The FWS is proposing to continue the CEP in its current form, which “has proven to be effective over the past 40 years,” to facilitate the continued efficient export of these species. However, the FWS is also considering three alternatives: (1) replacing the tagging of skins prior to export with another chain-of-custody documentation system; (2) eliminating export approval for specimens of these species, which the FWS states would not further the purposes of CITES; and (3) eliminating FWS approval of state or tribal export programs, which “would increase the length of time for exporters to obtain permits and would be overly burdensome to both the Service and exporters.”

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