[Federal Register: June 23, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 120)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 37361-37368]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 37361]]


Part V

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 20

Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations for 
the 2003-04 Hunting Season With Request for 2004 Spring/Summer 
Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest Proposals in Alaska; Notice of 
Meetings; Proposed Rule

[[Page 37362]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AI93

Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2003-04 Hunting Season With Request 
for 2004 Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest Proposals in 
Alaska; 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 2003-04 hunting season. This 
supplement to the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule; 
announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway 
Council meetings; provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting 
from their March meetings; requests proposals for the 2004 spring/
summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska; and finalizes 
regulatory alternatives for the 2003-04 duck hunting seasons.

DATES: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet to 
consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season migratory 
bird hunting on June 18 and 19, 2003, and for late-season migratory 
bird hunting and the 2004 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence 
seasons in Alaska on July 30 and 31, 2003. All meetings will commence 
at approximately 8:30 a.m. 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 30, 2003, and 
for proposed late-season frameworks and subsistence hunting seasons in 
Alaska by August 30, 2003.

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, Division of Migratory Bird 
Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, 
ms MBSP-4107-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 at the Service's office in room 4107, Arlington Square Building, 
4501 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia.

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


Regulations Schedule for 2003

    On May 6, 2003, we published in the Federal Register (68 FR 24324) 
a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal provided a background 
and overview of the migratory bird hunting regulations process, and 
dealt with the establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations 
for hunting migratory game birds under Sec. 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 in early July, late-season frameworks in early August, and 
subsistence seasons in Alaska in September. We will publish final 
regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about August 20, 2003, 
for late seasons on or about September 15, 2003, and for subsistence 
seasons in Alaska in November 2003.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet June 18-
19, 2003, to review information on the current status of migratory 
shore and upland game birds and develop 2003-04 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 will review and discuss preliminary information 
on the status of waterfowl.
    At the July 30-31, 2003, meetings, the Committee will review 
information on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2003-04 
migratory game bird regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl 
seasons and other species and seasons not previously discussed at the 
early-season meetings. In addition, the Committee will develop 
recommendations for the 2004 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence 
season in Alaska.
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the individual meetings 
of the four Flyway Councils this July. Although agendas are not yet 
available, these meetings usually commence at 8 a.m. on the days 
    Atlantic Flyway Council: July 21-25, Allenberry Resort Inn, Boiling 
Springs, Pennsylvania.
    Mississippi Flyway Council: July 23-26, Holiday Inn in Traverse 
City, Michigan.
    Central Flyway Council: July 21-25, Quality Inn, Taos, New Mexico.
    Pacific Flyway Council: July 21-23 and July 25, Vail Cascade 
Resort, Vail, Colorado.

Request for 2004 Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest 
Proposals in Alaska


    The 1916 Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds between 
the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) established a closed 
season for the taking of migratory birds between March 10 and September 
1. Residents of northern Alaska and Canada traditionally harvested 
migratory birds for nutritional purposes during the spring and summer 
months. The governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States 
recently amended the 1916 Convention and the subsequent 1936 Mexico 
Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals. The 
amended treaties provide for the legal subsistence harvest of migratory 
birds and their eggs in Alaska and Canada during the closed season.
    On August 16, 2002, we published in the Federal Register (67 FR 
53511) a final rule that established procedures for incorporating 
subsistence management into the continental migratory bird management 
program. These regulations, developed under a new co-management process 
involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and 
Alaska Native representatives, established an annual procedure to 
develop harvest guidelines for implementation of a spring/summer 
migratory bird subsistence harvest. Eligibility and inclusion 
requirements necessary to participate in the spring/

[[Page 37363]]

summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska are outlined in 50 
CFR part 92.
    This supplemental rule calls for proposals for regulations that 
will expire on August 31, 2004, for the spring/summer subsistence 
harvest of migratory birds in Alaska. Each year, seasons will open 
after March 11 and close prior to September 1.

Alaska Spring/Summer Subsistence Harvest Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of the Alaska spring/summer subsistence 
harvest proposals in later Federal Register documents under 50 CFR Part 
92. General relationship to the process for developing national hunting 
regulations for migratory game birds is as follows:
    (a) Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. (1) Proposals may 
be submitted by the public to the Co-management Council during the 
period of November 1-December 15, 2003, to be acted upon for the 2005 
migratory bird subsistence harvest season. Proposals should be 
submitted to the Executive Director of the Co-management Council, 
listed above under the caption ADDRESSES.
    (b) Flyway councils. (1) Proposed 2004 regulations recommended by 
the Co-management Council will be submitted to all Flyway Councils for 
review and comment. The Council's recommendations must be submitted 
prior to the SRC's last regular meeting of the calendar year in order 
to be approved for spring/summer harvest beginning March 11 of the 
following calendar year.
    (2) Alaska Native representatives may be appointed by the Co-
management Council to attend meetings of one or more of the four Flyway 
Councils to discuss recommended regulations or other proposed 
management actions.
    (c) Service regulations committee. Proposed annual regulations 
recommended by the Co-management Council will be submitted to the 
Service Regulations Committee for their review and recommendation to 
the Service Director. Following the Service Director's review and 
recommendation, the proposals will be forwarded to the Department of 
Interior for approval. Proposed annual regulations will then be 
published in the Federal Register for public review and comment, 
similar to the annual migratory game bird hunting regulations. Final 
spring/summer regulations for Alaska will be published in the Federal 
Register in the preceding Fall.
    Because of the time required for our and public review, proposals 
from the Co-management Council for the 2004 spring/summer migratory 
bird subsistence harvest season should be submitted to the Flyway 
Councils and the Service by June 15, 2003, for their comments and 
Service action on July 30-31, 2003.

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking describes Flyway Council recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the May 6, 
2003, 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 
that simply support or oppose preliminary proposals and provide no 
recommended alternatives. We will consider these recommendations later 
in the regulations-development process. We will publish responses to 
all proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks. In 
addition, this supplemental rulemaking contains the final regulatory 
alternatives for the 2003-04 duck hunting seasons. We have included all 
Flyway Council recommendations received relating to the development of 
these alternatives.
    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 
identified in the May 6, 2003, proposed rule. Only those categories 
requiring your attention or for which we received Flyway Council 
recommendations are discussed below.

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) General Harvest Strategy, (B) Regulatory 
Alternatives, including specification of framework dates, season 
length, and bag limits, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special 
Seasons/Species Management.
A. General Harvest Strategy
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that selection of the appropriate regulatory alternative for the 
Atlantic Flyway should be based on optimal harvest strategies for 
eastern mallards. The Council also recommended that annual changes in 
regulations should be limited to no more than one step up or down among 
the regulatory alternatives (e.g., from ``liberal'' to ``moderate,'' 
but not ``liberal'' to ``restrictive'').
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommended limiting regulation changes to 
one step annually, and also that hunting seasons should remain open 
above the range of mallard population and pond levels where hunting 
seasons were open historically.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended placing a constraint on the 
Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) process that ensures seasons will 
remain open when mallard breeding populations (traditional breeding 
areas plus the Great Lakes region) exceed 5.5 million. The Central 
Flyway Council did not support limiting annual regulatory changes to 
one step each year.
    The Pacific Flyway Council also recommended placing a constraint on 
the AHM process that ensures seasons will remain open when mallard 
breeding populations (traditional breeding areas plus the Great Lakes 
region) exceed 5.5 million, due to the fact that it appears to have 
relatively little impact on the frequency of ``moderate'' and 
``liberal'' seasons. However, the Pacific Flyway Council did not 
support limiting annual regulatory changes to one step because it 
appears to make the harvest strategy more conservative overall.
    Written Comments: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 
the Colorado Division of Wildlife did not support placing a limitation 
on changes in regulations to one step each year. Further, the Illinois 
Department of Natural Resources recommended that hunting seasons should 
remain open above the range of mallard population and pond levels where 
hunting seasons were open historically, and the Colorado Division of 
Wildlife recommended placing a constraint on the AHM process that 
ensures seasons will remain open when mallard breeding populations 
(traditional breeding areas plus the Great Lakes region) exceed 5.5 
    Service Response: As recommended by the Atlantic Flyway Council, we 
will continue to select a regulatory alternative in the Atlantic Flyway 
based on the status of eastern mallards. However, we reiterate that 
this arrangement is still considered provisional, and it is important 
to press forward with development of an adaptive harvest strategy for 
the Atlantic Flyway that appropriately accounts for other key species 
in the harvest, such as black ducks and wood ducks.
    We understand the desires of the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils to limit changes in annual

[[Page 37364]]

regulations to one step because it is expected to significantly reduce 
temporal variability in hunting regulations, as well as lower the 
prospect of closed hunting seasons. These benefits are expected to 
accrue with little or no impact to the size of the mallard population 
or harvest. However, the Central and Pacific Flyway Councils oppose the 
``one-step'' constraint, principally because it is expected to 
significantly reduce the frequency of liberal seasons. We believe that 
further discussion of the ``one-step'' constraint is needed to develop 
consensus regarding the trade-offs inherent in this constraint. 
Consensus is necessary because it is not feasible to permit this 
constraint for some Flyways and not others (since all Flyways must 
share a common management objective for shared breeding stocks). 
Therefore, we will not implement the ``one-step'' constraint for the 
2003-04 duck-hunting season.
    There has been longstanding concern within the waterfowl management 
community about the prospect of closed seasons arising from the AHM 
process for midcontinent mallards in instances where the biological 
data and historical experience show that may not be necessary. Based on 
the management objective that has been in place since 1996, closed 
hunting seasons might be prescribed in about 30% of all years in the 
three western Flyways as a way to more rapidly increase mallard 
population size when it falls below the goal of the North American 
Waterfowl Management Plan. The Flyway Councils' recommendation would 
significantly reduce the frequency of closed-season prescriptions (to 
about 17% of all years), apparently with little biological impact. 
Based on current biological assessments, closed hunting seasons do not 
appear to be necessary from the perspective of sustainable harvesting 
when the midcontinent mallard population (traditional survey area plus 
the Great Lakes region) exceeds 5.5 million. The impact of maintaining 
open seasons above this level also appears to be negligible for other 
midcontinent duck species (scaup, gadwall, wigeon, green-winged teal, 
blue-winged teal, shoveler, pintail, redhead, and canvasbacks). 
Therefore, we intend to accept the recommendation to maintain open 
duck-hunting seasons when the midcontinent mallard population is above 
5.5 million. However, we note that closed seasons targeted at 
particular species or populations could still be necessary in some 
situations regardless of the status of midcontinent mallards.
B. Regulatory Alternatives
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council, the Upper- 
and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council, the Central Flyway Council, and the Pacific Flyway Council 
recommended that regulatory alternatives for duck-hunting seasons 
remain the same as those used in 2002, with the exception that the 
``very restrictive'' alternative be eliminated.
    The Pacific Flyway Council supports framework-date extensions as 
outlined in the Service's May 6, 2003, Federal Register, and notes that 
selection of framework extensions is contingent on approval by State 
wildlife regulatory organizations.
    Written Comments: The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and 
the Colorado Division of Wildlife supported elimination of the ``very 
restrictive'' alternative.
    Service Response: We note that expected harvest rates under the 
``very restrictive'' alternative do not differ significantly from those 
under the ``restrictive'' alternative. Moreover, the ``very 
restrictive'' alternative would be expected to be prescribed for only 
about 5% or less of all hunting seasons. Because elimination of the 
``very restrictive'' alternative appears to have negligible resource 
impacts, we concur with the recommendation of all four Flyway Councils 
and intend to eliminate this alternative from consideration for the 
2003-04 hunting season. All other aspects of the regulatory 
alternatives will remain as proposed in the May 6 Federal Register.
D. Special Seasons/Species Management
i. September Teal Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that States that have participated in the recent experimental teal 
season (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
and Georgia) be offered an operational September teal season beginning 
in 2003. They recommend that the season run for nine consecutive days 
during September 1-30, 2003, with a bag limit not to exceed four teal, 
whenever the breeding population estimate for blue-winged teal exceeds 
3.3 million in the traditional survey area. Delaware, Georgia, North 
Carolina, and Virginia may have shooting hours between one-half hour 
before sunrise to sunset, while shooting hours for Maryland and South 
Carolina may be between sunrise and sunset.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the 16-day September teal 
seasons continue to be used when the blue-winged teal breeding 
population is at or above 4.7 million, based on the recently completed 
report, ``Assessment of 16-Day September Teal Seasons 1998-2000 in the 
Central and Mississippi Flyways.''
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that Nebraska's experimental 
September teal season become operational.
ii. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the bag limit for Florida's special September wood duck and teal 
season remain at 4 wood ducks and teal in the aggregate.
iv. Canvasbacks
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommends 
modifying the 1994 Canvasback Harvest Strategy to allow for a limited 
canvasback harvest (season within a season) during years when the 
predicted harvest exceeds the allowable harvest, but can still be 
achieved by a more restrictive package (moderate, restrictive, or very 
restrictive). The season closure threshold would remain at a predicted 
spring breeding population of 500,000.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that the existing interim 
harvest strategy for canvasbacks be followed during the 2003-04 season.
v. Pintails
    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that the existing interim harvest strategy for pintails be followed 
during the 2003-04 season.
vii. Youth Hunt
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the Service allow all States the option of holding ``youth 
waterfowl hunt days'' on nonconsecutive hunting days, while maintaining 
the requirement that they must be held on non-school days.

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the Service increase the September Canada goose hunting season bag 
limit to 8, with no possession limit beginning with the 2003-04 hunting 
season. They further recommended that North Carolina's Northeast Hunt 
Zone Special September Canada goose season

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framework be extended from September 20 to September 30. They also 
recommended that Rhode Island's September resident Canada goose season 
framework dates of September 1 to September 30 be made operational.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the experimental early 
Canada goose season in Huron, Tuscola, and Saginaw counties in Michigan 
be extended for 1 year. Further, the Committees recommended that the 
Service grant operational status to Minnesota's Special September 
Canada Goose Season extension (16-22 September).
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that South Dakota's 3-year 
experimental September Canada goose season (September 16-30) become 
operational for all of eastern South Dakota (east of the Missouri 
River) beginning in 2003.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended that Wyoming's special 
season framework for the Rocky Mountain population of western Canada 
geese would consist of an 8-day season during September 1-15 in Bear 
River, Salt River, Farson-Eden Area, Bridger Valley, and Teton 
Counties, and the Little Snake River drainage portion of Carbon County. 
All participants must have a valid State permit for the special season. 
The number of permits may not exceed 240 in the Bear River, Salt River, 
Farson-Eden Area, and Bridger Valley area, and 20 permits in the Little 
Snake River drainage portion of Carbon County. The daily bag limit 
would be 3, with season and possession limits of 6. Where applicable, 
the season must be concurrent with the September portion of the 
sandhill crane season.
B. Regular Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations 
Committees of the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the 
framework opening date for all species of geese for the regular goose 
seasons in Michigan and Wisconsin be September 16, 2003. The Committees 
also recommended that the harvest index (quota) in Minnesota's Lac qui 
Parle Goose Zone be eliminated beginning in 2003.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended regular season frameworks 
for dark geese in the west-tier States consist of a framework opening 
date of the Saturday nearest September 24 (September 27, 2003) and a 
framework closing date of the Sunday nearest February 15 (February 15, 
2004). The season could be divided into 2 segments, except in Wyoming, 
where the season could be divided into 3 segments and evaluated in 
accordance with Service criteria. Season length would be 107 days, 
except in Colorado and Texas, where the season length would be 95 days. 
Daily bag limit would be 5 dark geese in the aggregate, with the 
following exceptions: (a) In the Western Goose Zone of Texas, the daily 
bag limit would be 1 white-fronted goose and 3 other dark geese (in the 
aggregate), and (b) in Colorado, the daily bag limit would be 3 dark 
geese in the aggregate. The possession limit would be twice the daily 
bag limit.
C. Special Late Season
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that Massachusetts' late Canada goose southern boundary of the coastal 
zone be extended from the present boundary in Duxbury, south to the 
Cape Cod Canal.

8. Swans

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that up to 200 tundra swan permits be temporarily transferred from 
South Dakota to North Dakota beginning in the 2003 season.

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
accepting the 2002 Rocky Mountain population of sandhill cranes harvest 
allocation of 668 birds as proposed by the Pacific Flyway.

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, 
nongovernmental 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 
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 4107, 4501 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 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). In addition, an August 1985 environmental 
assessment entitled ``Guidelines for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations 
on Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands'' is available from the 
address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.
    In a proposed rule published in the April 30, 2001, Federal 
Register (66 FR 21298), we expressed our intent to begin the process of 
developing a new EIS for the migratory bird hunting program.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of the 2003-04 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

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and 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 

Executive Order 12866

    This rule is economically significant and was reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866. The 
migratory bird hunting regulations are economically significant and are 
annually reviewed by OMB under Executive Order 12866. As such, a cost/
benefit analysis was prepared in 1998 and is further discussed below 
under the heading Regulatory Flexibility Act. Copies of the cost/
benefit analysis are available upon request from the address indicated 
under the caption ADDRESSES.
    Executive Order 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 
    (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 
    (6) What else could we 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.). In 1998, we analyzed the economic impacts of the 
annual hunting regulations on small business entities in detail, and 
issued a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis). The 1998 
Analysis documented the significant beneficial economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities and estimated that migratory bird 
hunters would spend between $429 million and $1.084 billion at small 
businesses in 1998. The primary source of information about hunter 
expenditures for migratory game bird hunting is the National Survey of 
Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, which is 
conducted at 5-year intervals. The 1998 Analysis utilized the 1996 
National Hunting and Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of 
Commerce's County Business Patterns. In 2002, the results from the 2001 
National Hunting and Fishing Survey were released. This year, we will 
update the 1998 Analysis with information from the 2001 National 
Hunting and Fishing Survey. Copies of the 1998 Analysis are available 
upon request from the Division 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 10/31/2004). 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 07/31/2003). The 
information from this survey is used to estimate the magnitude and the 
geographical and temporal distribution of the 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. Therefore, this 
rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under the Unfunded 
Mandates Reform Act.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that this rule will not unduly burden the judicial system and meets the 
requirements of 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.

Energy Effects--Executive Order 13211

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued Executive Order 13211 on 
regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, and 
use. Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of 
Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. While this proposed 
rule is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, it 
is not expected to adversely affect energy supplies, distribution, or 
use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action and no 
Statement of Energy Effects is required.

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 regarding the hunting of migratory 
birds, and we 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 

[[Page 37367]]

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 

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 2003-04 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 U.S.C. 712, 
and 16 U.S.C. 742a-j.

    Dated: June 13, 2003.
David P. Smith,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

[[Page 37368]]


[FR Doc. 03-15659 Filed 6-17-03; 2:54 pm]