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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 13-1077



[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 75 ]

Fishing; Endangered Species

[43 Pa.B. 3233]
[Saturday, June 15, 2013]

 The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 75 (relating to endangered species). The Commission is publishing this proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendments modify and update the Commission's endangered and threatened species regulations.

A. Effective Date

 The proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

B. Contact Person

 For further information on the proposed rulemaking, contact Wayne Melnick, Esq., P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7810. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's web site at

C. Statutory Authority

 The proposed amendments to §§ 75.1 and 75.2 (relating to endangered species; and threatened species) are published under the statutory authority of section 2305 of the code (relating to threatened and endangered species).

D. Purpose and Background

 The specific purpose and background of the proposed rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.

E. Summary of Proposal

 The Eastern Spadefoot (Scaphiopus holbrookii) is a small to medium-sized stout-bodied toad (1.7 to 2.2 inches). It is mostly a fossorial (burrowing) creature that comes to the surface to feed during warm, humid conditions. It is known as a sporadic breeder and breeds during major rain storms associated with steep barometric drops. It typically inhabits loose, friable soils where it can use its hind feet for burrowing. In the northeast, Eastern Spadefoot tend to be associated with sandy or loamy soils along the floodplains of streams and rivers and in depressions in agricultural fields (Hulse et al., 2001). These depressions, sometimes quite shallow, may be temporary or permanent and often form ephemeral pools following rains.

 The species range from southern New England to the Florida Keys and west to eastern Louisiana, but this Commonwealth forms a break between the New England populations and Maryland (NatureServe, 2010). In this Commonwealth, populations are in the Susquehanna, Delaware and Cumberland Valleys, including occurrences in Adams, Berks, Bucks, Centre, Chester, Clinton, Cumberland, Franklin, Lehigh, Lycoming, Montgomery, Northampton, Northumberland, Union and York Counties.

 The Eastern Spadefoot is listed as endangered in Ohio, Connecticut and Rhode Island, threatened in Massachusetts and Species of Concern in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri (Nanjappa and Conrad, 2011). Additionally, NatureServe State rankings list the Eastern Spadefoot as considered ''critically imperiled'' in Connecticut, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia and ''imperiled'' in Indiana, Missouri, New York and Massachusetts.

 The Eastern Spadefoot was historically distributed in disjunct populations in south-central and central Pennsylvania. Counties of historical occurrence in this Commonwealth include the following (with collection dates): Cumberland (1954); Franklin (1933 and 1937); North- umberland (1938, 1943, and 1985); and Union (1941). The records considered historical were initially documented prior to 1988. Historically documented sites were not considered extirpated until indicated by evidence. Anecdotal observations for the Eastern Spadefoot were recorded in the Delaware Valley from the Philadelphia region north to Monroe County.

 More recently, the Eastern Spadefoot was collected in York County in 1989, Berks County in 2003 and Lehigh County in 2003. The Eastern Spadefoot was listed as endangered by the Commission in 2005 due to the absence of observations during the first Pennsylvania Herp Atlas (1995—2001) and only two known breeding areas occur in this Commonwealth. In an attempt to understand the species, a major study investigating the distribution of the Eastern Spadefoot was conducted by East Stroudsburg University and funded by the Commission from 2008—2011. The Eastern Spadefoot was recorded in a total of 15 counties by the study in highly fragmented population centers. The following recent occurrence summary is derived from this work. It is important to note that these sites have been inhabited by the Eastern Spadefoot for an unknown period of time and do not constitute an active expansion of the range of this species but rather an expansion of the knowledge of the distribution. The current distribution of the Eastern Spadefoot in this Commonwealth is likely a relic of what was formerly a much wider range in this Commonwealth evidenced by the highly fragmented manner in which clusters or known sites occur. The following table relates the estimated area of occupancy (actual occupied habitats) in the 15-county Pennsylvania range.

County Number of
Breeding Sites
Estimated Area of Occupancy (ac) Estimated Area of Occupancy (mi2)
Adams 5 172.00 0.27
Berks 8 275.20 0.43
Bucks 4 137.60 0.22
Centre 3 103.20 0.16
Chester 2 68.80 0.11
Clinton 4 137.60 0.22
Cumberland 61 2,098.40 3.28
Franklin 29 997.60 1.56
Lehigh 2 68.80 0.11
Lycoming 3 103.20 0.16
Montgomery 4 137.60 0.22
Northampton 4 137.60 0.22
Northumberland 14 481.60 0.75
York 3 103.20 0.16
Union 2 68.80 0.11
Total 148 5,091.20 7.96

 The Eastern Spadefoot occurs in broad valleys and the Atlantic Coastal Plain and is threatened by habitat destruction from residential and industrial development. Many known locations exist in areas that receive substantial pressure from these development practices. Habitat alteration and changes in water chemistry from agricultural practices can also impact breeding habitat (Jansen et al., 2001; Wildlife in Connecticut, 1999). The water in which they breed can be temporary pools, which are not necessarily delineated wetlands; thus, wetland regulations cannot be relied upon to provide sufficient protection for the breeding habitat of this species. The level of fragmentation of Eastern Spadefoot habitats is significant both on an individual population level and on a metapopulation level.

 Only 12 known breeding sites (8% of 148) have some level of protection: Centre County, 2; Cumberland County, 4; Franklin County, 4; and Berks County, 2. It is important to note that only 2 of 12 (+17%) of protected sites have adequate upland buffers receiving protection. Only 1% of Eastern Spadefoot sites in this Commonwealth can be considered secure from a direct development threat, though other threats (such as drought, disease, poaching or isolation due to fragmentation) may leave these sites vulnerable. Pennsylvania Eastern Spadefoot occur in landscapes heavily disturbed by either urbanization or some types of intensive agriculture (row crops are seemingly compatible as long as breeding pools are not drained). Unfortunately, agricultural easements, a potentially important tool in Eastern Spadefoot conservation, do not factor biological resources.

 The Amphibian and Reptile Technical Committee of the Pennsylvania Biological Survey (PABS) reviewed the Heritage rank of the Eastern Spadefoot and recommended it be changed from ''critically imperiled'' (S1) to ''imperiled'' (S2) status, rare in this Commonwealth. (State Rank Definitions, 1996). The PABS committee additionally recommended changing the Pennsylvania status to ''threatened'' based on the supporting data and conclusions of the recent status assessment of the species in this Commonwealth. The PABS definition of a threatened species is a species which was once listed but now cited for delisting (Pennsylvania Biological Survey Suggested Status Definitions, 2005).

 After a thorough status assessment was conducted from 2008 to 2011, this species was run through the Commission's amphibian and reptile species documentation and objective listing/delisting criteria and met Threatened Criteria B.1 (Extent of Occurrence is less than 2000 square miles) and B.2 (Area of Occupancy is less than 200 square miles) and three subcriteria under B.2: a) severely fragmented; b) continued decline; and c) extreme in fluctuations.

 Enough information is available to make the determination that the Eastern Spadefoot no longer meets Endangered criteria; however, it clearly meets two Threatened species criteria. The Eastern Spadefoot faces considerable threats and is relatively rare in this Commonwealth; therefore, it continues to warrant protection. As two Threatened species criteria have been met, the Commission believes that this justifies removing the Eastern Spadefoot from the Commonwealth's list of Endangered species and adding the Eastern Spadefoot to the list of Threatened species. The Commission therefore proposes to amend §§ 75.1 and 75.2 to read as set forth in Annex A.

F. Paperwork

 The proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will not create new paperwork requirements.

G. Fiscal Impact

 The proposed rulemaking will not have adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed rulemaking will not impose new costs on the private sector or the general public.

H. Public Comments

 Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about the proposed rulemaking to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000 within 30 days after publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.

 Comments also may be submitted electronically by completing the form at If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt. Electronic comments submitted in any other manner will not be accepted.

Executive Director

Fiscal Note: 48A-245. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A



Subpart B. FISHING


§ 75.1. Endangered species.

*  *  *  *  *

 (c) Reptiles and amphibians. The following species are endangered:

*  *  *  *  *

 (7) [Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Scaphiopus hol- brookii.

(8)]Rough Green Snake, Opheodrys aestivus.

[(9)] (8) Northern Cricket Frog, Acris crepitans.

[(10)] (9) Blue-spotted Salamander, Ambystoma later- ale.

[(11)] (10) Eastern Mud Turtle, Kinosternon subru- brum subrubrum.

*  *  *  *  *

§ 75.2. Threatened species.

*  *  *  *  *

 (c) Amphibians and reptiles. The following species are threatened:

*  *  *  *  *

 (2) Eastern Redbelly Turtle, Pseudemys rubriventris.

(3) Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Scaphiopus hol- brookii.

 (d) Invertebrates. The following species are threatened:

*  *  *  *  *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 13-1077. Filed for public inspection June 14, 2013, 9:00 a.m.]

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