[Federal Register: August 26, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 165)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 51231-51232]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 21

RIN 1018-AI05

Review of Captive-Reared Mallard Regulations on Shooting 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that a Final Draft of a review 
of regulations pertaining to the release and take of captive-reared 
mallards on licensed shooting preserves is available for public review. 
Comments and suggestions are requested.

DATES: You must submit comments pertaining to the review of regulations 
governing the release of captive-reared mallards by December 20, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments to: Jerome R. Serie, Atlantic Flyway 
Representative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, 12100 Beech Forest Drive, Room 224, Laurel, Maryland 
20708-4038. Copies of the Final Draft ``Review of Captive-reared 
Mallard Regulations on Shooting Preserves'' can be obtained by writing 
to the above address. The Final Draft may also be viewed via the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service's Home Page at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov. 
All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part 
of the public record. You may inspect comments during normal business 
hours at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jerome R. Serie, Atlantic Flyway 
Representative, (301) 497-5851.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On June 1, 1993, we published in the Federal 
Register (58 FR 31247) a notice of intent to review all aspects of 
regulations pertaining to the release and harvest of captive-reared 
mallards. This review was subsequently suspended until all the 
appropriate field studies were completed and results reviewed. On 
August 28, 2001, we reinitiated our review by publishing in the Federal 
Register (66 FR 45274) an updated notice of intent to review all 
aspects of regulations pertaining to the release and harvest of 
captive-reared mallards and provided the public with background 
information. These regulations, stated in Sec.  21.13 of title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), allow captive-reared mallards, 
provided they are properly marked prior to 6 weeks of age by removal of 
the right hind toe, banding with a seamless metal band, pinioning, or 
tattooing, to be possessed and disposed of in any number, at any time, 
by any person, without a permit. Further, this regulation stipulates 
that such birds may be killed by shooting only in accordance with all 
applicable hunting regulations governing the take of mallard ducks from 
the wild, with the exception provided; that such birds may be killed by 
shooting, in any number, at any time, within the confines of any 
premises operated as a shooting preserve under State license, permit, 
or authorization. Because captive-reared mallards are classified as a 
``migratory bird'' by definition in 50 CFR 10.12, and simply excepted 
by regulations in Sec.  21.13 allowing their take, they remain 
protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
    We do not oppose the shooting of captive-reared mallards on 
shooting preserves to supplement hunting opportunities for the public 
when precautions are taken to control the distribution of these birds. 
However, since 1985, this regulation has become more broadly 
interpreted and some shooting preserves actively release captive-reared 
mallards in large numbers in free-ranging situations on their premises. 
Often these properties are in areas frequented by wild ducks. Because 
both classes of mallards (captive-reared and wild) are 
indistinguishable until in the hand, regulatory conflicts can arise 
from allowing free-ranging, captive-reared birds to be taken without 
bag limits during closed seasons for wild ducks. Similarly, regulations 
involving live decoys and baiting (50 CFR 20.21) come into effect, 
which necessitate a discretionary interpretation by enforcement 
personnel in the field. Also, releases of thousands of uncontrolled, 
free-flighted captive-reared mallards into areas inhabited by wild 
ducks pose potential threats of disease transmission and genetic 
introgression or hybridization, and potentially render data-gathering 
activities by Federal, State, and Flyway waterfowl management programs 
less effective. Information pertaining to these potential conflicts is 
discussed, and recommendations to modify these regulations are 
considered. The primary focus is to assess the potential effects of

[[Page 51232]]

the captive-reared releases and harvest on the status and management of 
wild migratory waterfowl.
    We believe several options are available to alleviate potential 
conflicts and resolve management problems associated with captive-
reared mallard release programs without adversely affecting the 
opportunities and operations on shooting preserves. Many of these 
options would require some modification of Federal regulations (50 CFR 
parts 20 and 21). We intend to explore these options and invite public 
comment on any options that may alleviate this problem. Comments may be 
sent to the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.


    Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), the 
Secretary of the Interior has responsibility for setting appropriate 
regulations for the hunting of migratory birds, with due regard for 
maintaining such populations in a healthy state and at satisfactory 
levels. The Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742 a-j) more 
specifically authorizes collection of such information as is necessary 
and to take steps as may be required to protect wildlife resources.

    Dated: August 19, 2003.
Matt Hogan,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-21761 Filed 8-25-03; 8:45 am]