The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Service, Headquarters Region 7 intends to award a single source Cooperative Agreement as authorized by 505 DM 2.14.B to the North Slope Borough, Borough, Alaska. This notice is not a request for proposals and the Government does not intend to accept proposals. Award will be made 15 days after this notice. PURPOSE: The primary purpose of this Agreement is to transfer funds and technical expertise to the Borough to support their efforts in monitoring and investigating sources of illness and mortality affecting marine mammals along the coast of Alaska and communicating investigative results to concerned subsistence users and resource managers. A secondary purpose of this Agreement is to support walrus conservation and management through an improved understanding of mortality rates and sources of mortality impacting walruses, and improved response capabilities to marine mammal mortality events, as authorized by Title IV, Marine Mammal Response Program, and Section 112.c of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, MMPA. OBJECTIVES: To monitor, investigate and report on sources of morbidity and mortality affecting Pacific walruses in the North Slope Borough Region. Specific Project objectives include: 1. Establish and support a network for reporting sick, diseased or dead walruses. 2. Coordinate field response efforts to enumerate, examine, and sample walrus carcasses. 3. Coordinate the analysis of walrus tissue samples to investigate sources of morbidity and mortality. 4. Summarize and report finding to subsistence users and resource managers. Substantial involvement on the part of the part of the USFWS is anticipated for the successful completion of the objectives to be funded. In particular the USFWS will be responsible for the following: Provide technical assistance to the Borough throughout this project. Provide data forms and maintain a database for enumerating walrus carcasses. Work with the Borough Project Officer to establish priorities for carcass survey efforts, as well as biological sampling and analysis. The Service Project Officer shall review data and work cooperatively with the Borough Coordinator to prepare findings that can be that can be shared with subsistence users and used by scientists and managers to improve overall understanding of the scope, scale, distribution and sources of morbidity and mortality impacting the Pacific walrus population. Service staff involved with this project will coordinate with the Borough for purposes of public education regarding this project and reporting the results of field and laboratory investigations. REASON FOR SINGLE SOURCE: 1. Unsolicited proposal, Borough staff have requested the Service provide funding to support disease and health assessments for Pacific walruses, similar to their ongoing efforts to monitor sources of disease and mortality in seals and whales in cooperation with NOAA NMFS. The Service has never had adequate base funding to support such a program. In light of the recent declaration of an, unusual mortality event, affecting Arctic Pinnipeds in the region, Investigating the cause and significance of walrus mortalities in Alaska has become a top management priority. This Agreement would support two years of monitoring providing information on the scale and sources of walrus mortality along the Arctic coast of Alaska. 2. Legislative intent, Title IV of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, MMPA established the Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program. The purposes of the program are: a. to facilitate the collection and dissemination of information on the health of marine mammals and health trends of marine mammal populations in the wild, b. correlate the health of marine mammals and marine mammal populations, in the wild, with available data on physical, chemical, and biological environmental parameters; and c. coordinate effective responses to mortality events. Section 112.c of the MMPA allows federal agencies to enter into cooperative agreements with state and local governments to carry out the purposes of the MMPA. The coastal communities under the Boroughs jurisdiction occur in walrus habitat and rely on walruses as an important subsistence resource. Walrus use of coastal and reports of sick or stranded dead walruses along the coast have increased significantly in recent years. Understanding the scope and nature of illness and other sources of mortality is a conservation goal of the Services walrus program. (3) Unique qualifications, The applicant is uniquely qualified to perform the activity based upon a variety of demonstrable factors including location, voluntary support capacity and technical expertise. The Borough is the regional government for the northern portion of the state. Its headquarters is based in Barrow, Alaska and includes the Department of Wildlife Management that addresses wildlife issues for the villages of Barrow, Wainwright, Point Lay, and Point Hope. These villages have all reported an increase in the number of sick or dead seals and walruses near their communities in recent years and there is a growing concern in the communities regarding food safety and security. The Boroughs Department of Wildlife Management has considerable expertise coordinating and implementing marine mammal field projects along the Arctic coast of Alaska. Borough staff serve as regional coordinators for the NMFS marine mammal stranding response network, and are actively carrying out mortality assessments for other seal species in the region. Borough staff also works closely with rural communities to follow up on reports of stranded marine mammals. In 2012, the Borough wildlife veterinarian was jointly appointed by the Service and by NOAA NMFS to lead an investigation into an unusual mortality event impacting seals and walruses in Alaska. As head of the investigative team, she is currently working with the Service and NMFS to coordinate field collections and laboratory investigations to determine the cause of the illness.