[Federal Register: June 20, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 119)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 38399-38405]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 38399]]


Part VI

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 20

Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations; Notice of Meetings; Proposed Rule

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Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AG08

Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations; Notice of Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter Service or we) 
proposed in an earlier document to establish annual hunting regulations 
for certain migratory game birds for the 2000-01 hunting season. This 
supplement to the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule; 
announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway 
Council meetings; and describes the proposed regulatory alternatives 
for the 2000-01 duck hunting seasons and other proposed changes from 
the 1999-2000 hunting regulations.

DATES: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet to 
consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season migratory 
bird hunting on June 21 and 22, and for late-season migratory bird 
hunting on August 2 and 3. All meetings will commence at approximately 
8:30 a.m.
    You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory alternatives 
for the 2000-01 duck hunting seasons by July 7, 2000. You must submit 
comments on the proposed migratory bird hunting-season frameworks for 
Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other early 
seasons by July 28, 2000; and for proposed late-season frameworks by 
September 8, 2000.

ADDRESSES: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet 
in room 200 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arlington Square 
Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia.
    Send your comments on the proposals to the Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, ms 634-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 
20240. All comments received, including names and addresses, will 
become part of the public record. You may inspect comments during 
normal business hours in room 634, Arlington Square Building, 4401 N. 
Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Andrew, Chief, or Ron W. 
Kokel, Office of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, (703) 358-1714.


Regulations Schedule for 2000

    On April 25, 2000, we published in the Federal Register (65 FR 
24260) a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal dealt with the 
establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for migratory 
game birds under Sec. 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of 
subpart K. This document is the second in a series of proposed, 
supplemental, and final rules for migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. We will publish proposed early-season frameworks and final 
regulatory alternatives for the 2000-01 duck hunting seasons in mid-
July and late-season frameworks in mid-August. We will publish final 
regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about August 18, 2000, 
and those for late seasons on or about September 25, 2000.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet June 21-
22 to review information on the current status of migratory shore and 
upland game birds and develop 2000-01 migratory game bird regulations 
recommendations for these species plus regulations for migratory game 
birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Committee 
will also develop regulations recommendations for special September 
waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck seasons in the 
Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In addition, the 
Committee review and discuss preliminary information on the status of 
    At the August 2-3 meetings, the Committee will review information 
on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2000-01 migratory game 
bird regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl seasons and 
other species and seasons not previously discussed at the early-season 
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Director on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the joint and individual 
meetings of the four Flyway Councils, July 27 and 28, at the Peabody 
Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Although agendas are not yet available, 
these meetings usually commence at 8:00 a.m. on the days indicated.

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2000-01 duck hunting seasons. We have included and 
addressed all comments and recommendations received through May 12, 
2000, relating to the development of these alternatives.
    This supplemental rulemaking also describes other recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the April 25, 
2000, Federal Register. We have included only those recommendations 
requiring either new proposals or substantial modification of the 
preliminary proposals. This supplement does not include recommendations 
or comments that simply support or oppose preliminary proposals and 
provide no recommended alternatives. We will consider these comments 
later in the regulations-development process. We will publish responses 
to all proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks.
    We seek additional information and comments on the recommendations 
in this supplemental proposed rule. New proposals and modifications to 
previously described proposals are discussed below. Wherever possible, 
they are discussed under headings corresponding to the numbered items 
in the April 25, 2000, proposed rule.

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) Harvest Strategy Considerations, (B) Regulatory 
Alternatives, including specification of framework dates, season 
length, and bag limits, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special 
Seasons/Species Management. Only those categories for which we received 
public comment are discussed below.

A. Harvest Strategy Considerations

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that duck hunting regulations in the Atlantic Flyway for the 2000-01 
season be based on the optimal harvest strategy for eastern mallards.
    Service Response: In the April 25, 2000, proposed rule (65 FR 
24260), we proposed to continue use of Adaptive Harvest Management 
(AHM) to guide the establishment of duck hunting regulations. This 
year, we also propose to modify the existing AHM protocol to account 
for the status of mallards

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breeding in eastern North America. Modification of the AHM protocol 
involves: (1) Augmentation of the criteria for regulatory decisions to 
include population and environmental variables relevant to eastern 
mallards; (2) development of a combined harvest-management objective 
for midcontinent and eastern mallards; and (3) modification of the 
decision rules to allow a regulatory choice in the Atlantic Flyway that 
may differ from the remainder of the country. Recently, the Service, in 
cooperation with the Atlantic Flyway Council, completed a technical 
assessment regarding modification of AHM to account for eastern 
mallards. The principal finding of this assessment was that the status 
of midcontinent mallards appears to have little or no influence on the 
most appropriate choice of regulatory alternative in the Atlantic 
Flyway. However, the status of eastern mallards can influence the most 
appropriate regulatory choice in the western three Flyways, 
particularly when the status of midcontinent and eastern mallards is 
disparate. We note that this assessment considers only the large-scale 
status of mallard breeding populations, and not the status of sub-
populations that may have affinities for certain wintering areas. We 
also note that the assessment did not explicitly consider the status of 
species other than mallards in the development of regulatory 
strategies. The assessment report is available on the Internet at 
www.migratorybirds.fws.gov/reports/reports.html. We will consider the 
implications for mallard harvest and status discussed in this 
assessment report, as well as potential impacts on species other than 
mallards, in proposing a regulatory alternative for the Atlantic Flyway 
for the 2000-2001 hunting season. We will accept public comment on this 
issue until September 8, 2000. Comments should be sent to the address 
under the caption ADDRESSES.

B. Regulatory Alternatives

    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the regulations 
alternatives from 1999 be used in 2000, except that the framework 
opening and closing dates in all alternatives should be the Saturday 
nearest September 23 to the Sunday nearest January 28, with appropriate 
offsets (e.g., reduction in season length) as determined by the 
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended that the framework opening and closing dates in all 
regulatory alternatives should be the Saturday nearest September 23 to 
the Sunday nearest January 28, with no penalties in season length.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended the continued use of the 
1999 regulatory alternatives for the 2000-2001 season, but with 
modifications. The Council recommended a framework opening date of the 
Saturday closest to September 24 in the ``liberal'' and ``moderate'' 
regulatory alternatives with no offsets, and a framework closing date 
of the Sunday closest to January 25. Additionally, the Council 
recommended that no additional changes be allowed to the alternatives 
for a 5-year period.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended that the set of regulatory 
alternatives for the 2000-2001 hunting season remain unchanged from 
those adopted in 1999.
    Service Response: We believe that tacit disagreement over the 
objectives of modifying framework dates continues to undermine the 
biological and administrative foundations of the regulatory process for 
setting duck hunting seasons. Therefore, we believe that the continuing 
debate over framework-date extensions could benefit from further 
dialogue, in which Flyway Councils explore the sociological issues of 
fairness and equity underlying the framework-date issue. We acknowledge 
the difficulties associated with such a dialogue, but broad-based 
agreement on a regulatory approach to framework dates is unlikely in 
its absence.
    Due to the continuing absence of agreement among States and Flyways 
about how best to modify framework dates, we are proposing no changes 
to the set of regulatory alternatives from those considered last year 
(i.e., the 1999-2000 hunting season) (64 FR 39460). We reiterate that 
our desire is to maintain current framework-date specifications through 
the 2002-03 hunting season, or until such time that the Flyway Councils 
can develop an approach that adequately addresses the concerns of the 
Service and a majority of States.
    In evaluating proposals for modification of framework dates, we 
will continue to focus on several key issues, including: (1) The 
potential for biological impacts on the waterfowl resource, 
particularly on those species currently at depressed levels; (2) the 
technical difficulties associated with predicting harvest impacts; (3) 
our desire to maintain framework dates as a viable tool, along with 
season length and bag limit, for regulating duck harvests; and (4) the 
acceptability of proposals to a broad range of stakeholders. In 
addition, we are particularly concerned about any modification to 
framework dates that would disrupt the functioning of AHM, which is 
intended to reduce long-standing uncertainties about the impacts of 
hunting regulations on waterfowl populations. An essential feature of 
the AHM process is a set of regulatory alternatives (including 
framework dates, season lengths, and bag limits) that is sufficiently 
stable over time to permit a reliable investigation of the 
relationships between regulations and harvest, and between harvest and 
subsequent duck population size.
    Therefore, we propose the four regulatory alternatives described in 
the accompanying table for consideration during the 2000-2001 duck 
hunting season. Alternatives are specified for each Flyway and are 
designated as ``VERY RES'' for the very restrictive, ``RES'' for the 
restrictive, ``MOD'' for the moderate, and ``LIB'' for the liberal 
alternative. We will announce final regulatory alternatives in early 
July following the early-season regulations meetings in late June. 
Public comments will be accepted until July 7, 2000, and should be sent 
to the address under the caption ADDRESSES.

C. Zones and Split Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that the guidelines for regular duck season zone/split configurations 
be modified to allow States to select up to three zones with a two-way 
split season in each zone.

D. Special Seasons/Species Management

iii. September Teal Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that Nebraska be allowed to have an experimental 9-day teal season in 
the non-production area of the State.
iv. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council requested that the Service and the 
Council's Wood Duck Technical Committee move forward during the current 
year (2000) to allow for implementation of a wood duck Flyway harvest 
management strategy by the year 2001 as scheduled. The Committee 
further recommended that September seasons remain an option for 
delineated wood duck reference areas (population units), provided that 
specified data-collection requirements are met.

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v. Youth Hunt
    Council Recommendations: The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended a special 2-day youth 
waterfowl hunt for the 2000-01 season.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended expansion of the special 
youth waterfowl hunt to 2 days.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended that the Service allow 
States the opportunity to select up to 2 consecutive days for a youth 
waterfowl hunt outside the general season and frameworks in 2000.

3. Mergansers

    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that, for those States that 
include mergansers in their duck bag limit, the merganser limit be the 
same as the duck bag limit, except that the hooded merganser limit 
would remain at one.

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the three counties near 
Saginaw Bay in Michigan (Huron, Saginaw, and Tuscola), which previously 
have been closed in the special early Canada goose season, be allowed 
an experimental special early season with a two-bird daily bag limit.
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council urged the Service to use caution in changing or expanding 
special goose seasons.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that the framework closing 
date for operational September Canada goose seasons in the Central 
Flyway be extended to September 30 with no additional evaluation 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended that Wyoming's daily bag and 
season limits be increased from 2 and 4, to 3 and 6 birds, 
respectively, and that the bag and possession limits for Washington's 
September season increase from 3 and 6, to 5 and 10, respectively.

B. Regular Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the 1999 regular goose 
season opening date be as early as September 16 in Michigan and 
Wisconsin. The Committee further recommended that the framework opening 
date for regular goose seasons in the Mississippi Flyway be September 
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that the framework opening 
date for regular dark goose seasons in the East and West Tiers be fixed 
at September 1, rather than the current opening date of the Saturday 
nearest October 1.

5. White-fronted Geese

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that the framework closing date for Mid-Continent white-fronted geese 
be changed to the Sunday closest to February 15. They further 
recommended that the season length be 95 days, except for the Eastern 
Goose Zone of Texas, where it would be unchanged (86 days).

8. Swans

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that States with Eastern Population tundra swan hunting seasons (North 
Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana) be allowed to issue a second swan 
permit to interested hunters from permits remaining after the initial 

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended a 
95-day season with the option for a two-way split season for the 
hunting of Mid-Continent sandhill cranes. This change would result in a 
37-day season length increase in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, 
Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado and a 2-day season length 
increase in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.
    The Council further recommended that the open area for the hunting 
of Mid-Continent sandhill cranes be extended eastward to the 
Mississippi Flyway. The Council recommends a season length of 37 days 
with outside framework dates of September 1 and February 28, and a 
daily bag/possession limit of 3 and 9, respectively, for this expanded 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended a boundary modification in 
Box Elder County, Utah to exclude that portion of the County known to 
be used by greater sandhill cranes affiliated with the Lower Colorado 
River Population.

12. Rails

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
that those States divided between the Central and Pacific Flyways be 
allowed to select rail season frameworks, on a statewide basis, that 
conform with the Central Management Unit frameworks.

13. Snipe

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
that those States divided between the Central and Pacific Flyways be 
allowed to select snipe season frameworks, on a statewide basis, that 
conform with the Central Management Unit frameworks.

15. Band-tailed Pigeons

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended a 
change in frameworks for Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons from 1999 to 
increase the possession limit from 2 to 4 birds.

16. Mourning Doves

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
that those States divided between the Central and Pacific Flyways be 
allowed to select dove season frameworks, on a statewide basis, that 
conform with the Central Management Unit frameworks.

18. Alaska

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended a 
reduction in sandhill crane bag limits from three to two in that 
portion of the State associated with the Pacific Flyway Population of 
lesser sandhill cranes.

Public Comment Invited

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. We intend that adopted final rules be as responsive as 
possible to all concerned interests and, therefore, seek the comments 
and suggestions of the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
non-governmental organizations, and other private interests on these 
proposals. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written 
comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed 
regulations to the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.
    Special circumstances involved in the establishment of these 
regulations limit the amount of time that we can allow for public 
comment. Specifically, two considerations compress the time in which 
the rulemaking process must operate: (1) The need to establish final 
rules at a point early enough in the summer to allow affected State 
agencies to appropriately adjust their licensing and regulatory 
mechanisms; and (2) the unavailability, before mid-June, of specific, 
reliable data on this year's status of some waterfowl and migratory

[[Page 38403]]

shore and upland game bird populations. Therefore, we believe that to 
allow comment periods past the dates specified is contrary to the 
public interest.
    Before promulgation of final migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will take into consideration all comments received. 
Such comments, and any additional information received, may lead to 
final regulations that differ from these proposals.
    You may inspect comments received on the proposed annual 
regulations during normal business hours at the Service's office in 
room 634, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. For each 
series of proposed rulemakings, we will establish specific comment 
periods. We will consider, but possibly may not respond in detail to, 
each comment. As in the past, we will summarize all comments received 
during the comment period and respond to them after the closing date.

NEPA Consideration

    NEPA considerations are covered by the programmatic document, 
``Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual 
Regulations Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (FSES 88-
14),'' filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 9, 1988. 
We published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on June 
16, 1988 (53 FR 22582). We published our Record of Decision on August 
18, 1988 (53 FR 31341). Copies are available from the address indicated 
under the caption ADDRESSES.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of the 2000-01 migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will consider provisions of the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended, (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; hereinafter the Act) to 
ensure that hunting is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of any species designated as endangered or threatened or modify or 
destroy its critical habitat and that the proposed action is consistent 
with conservation programs for those species. Consultations under 
Section 7 of this Act may cause us to change proposals in this and 
future supplemental proposed rulemaking documents.

Executive Order (E.O.) 12866

    While this individual supplemental rule was not reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the migratory bird hunting 
regulations are economically significant and are annually reviewed by 
OMB under E.O. 12866.
    E.O. 12866 requires each agency to write regulations that are easy 
to understand. We invite comments on how to make this rule easier to 
understand, including answers to questions such as the following: (1) 
Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated? (2) Does the rule 
contain technical language or jargon that interferes with its clarity? 
(3) Does the format of the rule (grouping and order of sections, use of 
headings, paragraphing, etc.) aid or reduce its clarity? (4) Would the 
rule be easier to understand if it were divided into more (but shorter) 
sections? (5) Is the description of the rule in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of the preamble helpful in understanding the rule? 
What else could the Service do to make the rule easier to understand?

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    These regulations have a significant economic impact on substantial 
numbers of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.). We analyzed the economic impacts of the annual 
hunting regulations on small business entities in detail, and a Small 
Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis) was issued by the Service in 
1998. The Analysis documented the significant beneficial economic 
effect on a substantial number of small entities. The primary source of 
information about hunter expenditures for migratory game bird hunting 
is the National Hunting and Fishing Survey, which is conducted at 5-
year intervals. The Analysis was based on the 1996 National Hunting and 
Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce's County Business 
Patterns from which it was estimated that migratory bird hunters would 
spend between $429 million and $1,084 million at small businesses in 
1998. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the Office 
of Migratory Bird Management.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business 
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. For the reasons outlined above, 
this rule has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. 
However, because this rule establishes hunting seasons, we do not plan 
to defer the effective date under the exemption contained in 5 U.S.C. 

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We examined these regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995. The various recordkeeping and reporting requirements imposed 
under regulations established in 50 CFR part 20, Subpart K, are 
utilized in the formulation of migratory game bird hunting regulations. 
Specifically, OMB has approved the information collection requirements 
of the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program and assigned 
clearance number 1018-0015 (expires 09/30/2001). This information is 
used to provide a sampling frame for voluntary national surveys to 
improve our harvest estimates for all migratory game birds in order to 
better manage these populations. OMB has also approved the information 
collection requirements of the Sandhill Crane Harvest Questionnaire and 
assigned clearance number 1018-0023 (expires 09/30/2000). The 
information from this survey is used to estimate the magnitude and the 
geographical and temporal distribution of harvest, and the portion it 
constitutes of the total population. A Federal agency 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.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certify, in compliance with the requirements 
of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this 
rulemaking will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given 
year on local or State government or private entities.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that these regulations meet the applicable standards found in Sections 
3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

Takings Implication Assessment

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, this proposed rule, 
authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, does not have significant 
takings implications and does not affect any constitutionally protected 
property rights. This rule will not result in the physical occupancy of 
property, the physical invasion of property, or the regulatory taking 
of any property. In fact, these rules allow hunters to exercise 
otherwise unavailable privileges and, therefore, reduce restrictions on 
the use of private and public property.

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Federalism Effects

    Due to the migratory nature of certain species of birds, the 
Federal Government has been given responsibility over these species by 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We annually prescribe frameworks from 
which the States make selections and employ guidelines to establish 
special regulations on Federal Indian reservations and ceded lands. 
This process preserves the ability of the States and Tribes to 
determine which seasons meet their individual needs. Any State or Tribe 
may be more restrictive than the Federal frameworks at any time. The 
frameworks are developed in a cooperative process with the States and 
the Flyway Councils. This process allows States to participate in the 
development of frameworks from which they will make selections, thereby 
having an influence on their own regulations. These rules do not have a 
substantial direct effect on fiscal capacity, change the roles or 
responsibilities of Federal or State governments, or intrude on State 
policy or administration. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 
13132, these regulations do not have significant federalism effects and 
do not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

    Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.

    The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 2000-01 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 U.S.C. 712, 
and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: June 14, 2000.
Donald J. Barry,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

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[FR Doc. 00-15454 Filed 6-19-00; 8:45 am]