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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to establish a nonessential experimental population (NEP) area for the North American wolverine (Gulo gulo luscus) in the Southern Rocky Mountains of Colorado, northern New Mexico, and southern Wyoming. The distinct population segment (DPS) of the North American wolverine occurring in the contiguous United States is proposed for Federal listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The proposal will establish the NEP area for the wolverine in the Southern Rockies portion of the DPS under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act, and to classify any wolverines introduced into the area as a nonessential experimental population within the Southern Rocky Mountains. This proposed rule provides a plan for establishing the NEP area and provides for allowable legal incidental taking of the wolverine within the defined NEP area.

The proposed action would not result in reintroduction of the wolverine; rather, the NEP area designation would provide the regulatory assurances necessary to facilitate a State-led reintroduction effort, should the state of Colorado determine to reintroduce the wolverine. The best available data indicate that reintroduction of the wolverine into the Southern Rocky Mountains is biologically feasible and will promote conservation of the species.
The North American wolverine DPS in the contiguous United States was designated a candidate species on December 14, 2010 (75 FR 78030), under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). An NEP can only be designated for a species that is listed under the Act.

Additional information about this proposed rule is available at http://federalregister.gov/a/2013-01479.  Information about the draft Recovery Outline for the proposed North American wolverine DPS in the contiguous United States is available at http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/

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