[Federal Register: September 22, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 183)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 55691-55699]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 55691]]


Part III

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 92

Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations for 
Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2006 Season; Proposed Rule

[[Page 55692]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 92

RIN 1018-AU39

Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations 
for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2006 Season

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is 
proposing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for 
the 2006 season. This proposed rule would establish regulations that 
prescribe frameworks, or outer limits, for dates when harvesting of 
birds may occur, species that can be taken, and methods and means that 
would be excluded from use. These regulations were developed under a 
co-management process involving the Service, the Alaska Department of 
Fish and Game, and Alaska Native representatives. These regulations are 
intended to provide a framework to enable the continuation of customary 
and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska. The 
rulemaking is necessary because the regulations governing the 
subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to annual 
review. This rulemaking proposes regulations that start on April 2, 
2006, and expire on August 31, 2006, for the subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska.

DATES: You must submit comments on the proposed subsistence harvest 
regulations for migratory birds in Alaska by November 21, 2005.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments on this proposed rule to the Regional 
Director, Alaska Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor 
Road, Anchorage, AK 99503, or fax to (907) 786-3306 or e-mail to 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Fred Armstrong, (907) 786-3887, or 
Donna Dewhurst, (907) 786-3499, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. 
Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503.



What Events Led to This Action?

    In 1916, the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) 
signed the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in Canada 
and the United States (Canada Treaty). The treaty prohibited all 
commercial bird hunting and specified a closed season on the taking of 
migratory game birds between March 10 and September 1 of each year. In 
1936, the United States and Mexico signed the Convention for the 
Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals (Mexico Treaty). The 
Mexico treaty prohibited the taking of wild ducks between March 10 and 
September 1. Neither treaty allowed adequately for the traditional 
harvest of migratory birds by northern peoples during the spring and 
summer months. This harvest, which has occurred for centuries, was and 
is necessary to the subsistence way of life in the north and thus 
continued despite the closed season.
    The Canada treaty and the Mexico treaty, as well as migratory bird 
treaties with Japan (1972) and Russia (1976), have been implemented in 
the United States through the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The 

courts have ruled that the MBTA prohibits the Federal Government from 
permitting any harvest of migratory birds that is inconsistent with the 
terms of any of the migratory bird treaties. The more restrictive terms 
of the Canada and Mexico treaties thus prevented the Federal Government 
from permitting the traditional subsistence harvest of migratory birds 
during spring and summer in Alaska. To remedy this situation, the 
United States negotiated Protocols amending both the Canada and Mexico 
treaties to allow for subsistence harvest of migratory birds by 
indigenous inhabitants of identified subsistence harvest areas in 
Alaska. The U.S. Senate approved the amendments to both treaties in 

What Has the Amended Treaty Accomplished?

    The major goals of the amended treaty with Canada are to allow 
traditional subsistence harvest and improve conservation of migratory 
birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. The amended 
treaty with Canada provides a means to allow permanent residents of 
villages within subsistence harvest areas, regardless of race, to 
continue harvesting migratory birds between March 10 and September 1 as 
they have done for thousands of years. The Letter of Submittal of May 
20, 1996, from the Department of State to the White House that 
officially accompanied the treaty protocol set the geographic baseline 
with lands north and west of the Alaska Range and within the Alaska 
Peninsula, Kodiak Archipelago, and the Aleutian Islands as the initial 
subsistence harvest areas.

What Has the Service Accomplished Since Ratification of the Amended 

    In 1998, we began a public involvement process to determine how to 
structure management bodies to provide the most effective and efficient 
involvement for subsistence users. This process was concluded on March 
28, 2000, when we published in the Federal Register (65 FR 16405) the 
Notice of Decision: ``Establishment of Management Bodies in Alaska to 
Develop Recommendations Related to the Spring/Summer Subsistence 
Harvest of Migratory Birds.'' This notice described the establishment 
and organization of 12 regional management bodies plus the Alaska 
Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management Council).
    Establishment of a migratory bird subsistence harvest began on 
August 16, 2002, when we published in the Federal Register (67 FR 
53511) a final rule at 50 CFR part 92 that set procedures for 
incorporating subsistence management into the continental migratory 
bird management program. These regulations established an annual 
procedure to develop harvest guidelines to implement a subsistence 
migratory bird harvest.
    The next step established the first subsistence migratory bird 
harvest system. This was finalized on July 21, 2003, when we published 
in the Federal Register (68 FR 43010) a final rule at 50 CFR parts 20, 
21 and 92 that created the first annual harvest regulations for the 
2003 subsistence migratory bird season in Alaska. These annual 
frameworks were not intended to be a complete, all-inclusive set of 
regulations, but were intended to regulate continuation of customary 
and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska during 
the spring and summer. See the August 16, 2002, July 21, 2003, April 2, 
2004, and April 8, 2005, final rules for additional background 
information on the subsistence harvest program for migratory birds in 
    This current rulemaking is necessary because the migratory bird 
harvest season is closed unless opened and the regulations governing 
subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public 
review and annual approval. The Co-management Council held a meeting in 
May 2005, to develop recommendations for changes effective for the 2006 
harvest season. These recommendations were presented to the Service 
Regulations Committee (SRC) on July 27 and 28, 2005, and were approved 
without modification.

[[Page 55693]]

    This rule proposes regulations for the taking of migratory birds 
for subsistence uses in Alaska during 2006. This rule proposes to list 
migratory bird species that are open or closed to harvest, as well as 
season openings and closures by region, including several changes in 
the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta region. It also proposes minor changes in the 
methods and means of taking migratory birds for subsistence purposes.

How Will the Service Continue To Ensure That the Subsistence Harvest 
Will Not Raise Overall Migratory Bird Harvest?

    The Service has an emergency closure provision (Sec.  92.21), so 
that if any significant increases in harvest are documented for one or 
more species in a region, an emergency closure can be requested and 
implemented. Eligibility to harvest under the regulations established 
in 2003 was limited to permanent residents, regardless of race, in 
villages located within the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Archipelago, the 
Aleutian Islands and in areas north and west of the Alaska Range (Sec.  
92.5). These geographical restrictions opened the initial subsistence 
migratory bird harvest to only about 13 percent of Alaska residents. 
High-population areas such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and 
Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the 
Gulf of Alaska roaded area and Southeast Alaska were excluded from the 
eligible subsistence harvest areas.
    Based on petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest, in 2004, we 
added 13 additional communities based on the five criteria set forth in 
Sec.  92.5(c). These communities included: Gulkana, Gakona, Tazlina, 
Copper Center, Mentasta Lake, Chitina, Chistochina, Tatitlek, Chenega, 
Port Graham and Nanwalek, Tyonek and Hoonah, populations totaling 
2,766. In 2005, we added three additional communities for glaucous-
winged gull egg gathering only, based on petitions requesting 
inclusion. These southeastern communities included Craig, Hydaburg, and 
Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459. These new regions 
increased the percentage of the State population included in the 
subsistence bird harvest only to 14 percent.
    Subsistence harvest has been monitored for the past 15 years 
through the use of annual household surveys in the most heavily used 
subsistence harvest areas, e.g., Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta. This monitoring 
enables tracking of any major changes or trends in levels of harvest 
and user participation. In the March 3, 2003, Federal Register (68 FR 
10024), we published a notice of intent to submit the Alaska 
Subsistence Household Survey Information Collection Forms to the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval under the Paperwork 
Reduction Act, with a subsequent 60-day public comment period. In the 
July 31, 2003, Federal Register (68 FR 44961), we published a notice 
that the Alaska Subsistence Harvest Survey Information Collection Forms 
were submitted to OMB for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 
with a 30-day public comment period. OMB approved the information 
collection on October 2, 2003, and assigned OMB control number 1018-
0124, which expires on October 31, 2006.

How Did the Service Develop the Methods and Means Prohibitions, and 
What Is Proposed to Change for 2006?

    In development of the initial regulations (68 FR 6697), the Co-
management Council encouraged the Service to adopt the existing methods 
and means prohibitions that occur in the Federal (50 CFR 20.21) and 
Alaska (5AAC92.100) migratory bird hunting regulations. We included 
some exceptions to the Federal regulations in the initial regulations 
and include some in this proposed rule to allow the continuation of 
customary and traditional spring harvest methods, but not the creation 
of new proposed traditions. In this proposed rule, we have incorporated 
the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta region's request to prohibit use of private 
or chartered aircraft for hunting or transporting hunters, except for 
transportation between community airstrips, in Unit 18.

How Did the Service Decide the List of Birds Open To Harvest, and What 
Is Proposed to Change for 2006?

    The Service believes it is necessary to develop a list of bird 
species that would be open to subsistence harvest. The original list 
was compiled from subsistence harvest data, with several species added 
based on their presence in Alaska. The original intent was for the list 
to be reviewed by the regional management bodies as a check list. The 
list was adopted by the Co-management Council as part of the guidelines 
for the 2003 season. Most of the regions adopted the list as written; 
however, two regions created their own lists. One regional 
representative explained that it would take much more time than was 
available for his region to reduce the list and that, once a bird was 
removed, returning it to the list would be more difficult later. Going 
with the original list was viewed as protecting hunters from 
prosecution for the take of an unlisted bird. To understand this 
rationale, one must be aware that subsistence hunting is generally 
opportunistic and does not usually target individual species. Native 
language names for birds often group closely related species, with no 
separate names for species within these groups. Also, preferences for 
individual species differ greatly between villages and individual 
hunters. As a result, regions are hesitant to remove birds from the 
list open to harvest until they are certain the species are not taken 
for subsistence use. The list therefore contains some species that are 
taken infrequently and opportunistically, but this is still part of the 
subsistence tradition. The Co-management Council initially decided to 
call this list ``potentially harvested birds'' versus ``traditionally 
harvested birds'' because a detailed written documentation of the 
customary and traditional use patterns for the species listed had not 
yet been conducted. However, this terminology was leading to some 
confusion, so the Service renamed the list ``subsistence birds'' to 
cover the birds open to harvest.
    The ``customary and traditional use'' of a wildlife species has 
been defined in Federal regulations (50 CFR 100.4) as a long-
established, consistent pattern of use, incorporating beliefs and 
customs that have been transmitted from generation to generation. Much 
of the customary and traditional use information has not been 
documented in written form, but exists in the form of oral histories 
from elders, traditional stories, harvest methods taught to children, 
and traditional knowledge of the birds' natural history shared within a 
village or region. The primary source of quantitative data on customary 
and traditional use of the harvested bird species comes from Alaska 
subsistence migratory bird harvest surveys conducted by Service 
personnel and contractors and transferred to a computerized database. 
Because of difficulties in bird species identification, shorebird 
harvest information has been lumped into ``large shorebird'' and 
``small shorebird'' categories. In reality, Alaska subsistence harvests 
are also conducted in this manner, generally with no targeting or even 
recognition of individual shorebird species in most cases.
    Based on conservation concerns, we propose to close the harvest of 
black brant in the Izembek and Moffet lagoons on August 16 to protect 
brant during the early fall migration staging in the area. Izembek 
Lagoon is an internationally recognized staging area that attracts over 
90% of black brant in fall. Black brant

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are well below the population objective defined by the Pacific Flyway 
Council. Population size has declined in recent years and has triggered 
restrictive harvest limits throughout the Pacific Flyway.
    Based on requests by the Association of Village Council Presidents 
and the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, two special closures are 
proposed within the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta region. The first proposal is 
to implement a special black brant and cackling goose season hunting 
closure from the period when egg laying begins until young birds are 
fledged, with the closure dates to be announced by the Alaska Regional 
Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists, the 
Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation 
Committee. This closure represents a conservation measure to maximize 
survival of locally hatched black brant and cackling geese. The second 
proposal is to implement an area closure of the following goose 
colonies: Kokechik Bay, Tutakoke River, Kigigak Island, Baird 
Peninsula, and Baird Island. These colonies would be closed to all 
hunting and eggs gathering from the period of nest initiation until 
young birds are fledged. Closure dates are proposed to be announced by 
the Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with 
field biologists, the Association of Village Council President's 
Waterfowl Conservation Committee. This area closure is a conservation 
measure to prevent disturbance by subsistence users in these five key 
black brant nesting areas. This closure is primary for the benefit of 
black brant and cackling geese, but would also benefit emperor geese, 
spectacled eiders and many other waterfowl species.
    At the request of the North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management 
Committee, the Co-management Council recommended continuing the 2005 
provision into 2006 to allow subsistence use of yellow-billed loons 
inadvertently caught in subsistence fishing (gill) nets on the North 
Slope. Justification given by the proponent was that yellow-billed 
loons are culturally important for the Inupiat Eskimo of the North 
Slope for use in traditional dance regalia. The Service Regulations 
Committee originally met on July 29, 2004, and set a maximum of 20 
yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught annually in the North Slope 
Region for the 2005 season. Individual reporting to the North Slope 
Borough Department of Wildlife is required by the end of each season. 
In addition, the North Slope Borough will ask fishermen, through 
announcements on the radio and through personal contact, to report all 
entanglements of loons to better estimate the levels of injury or 
mortality caused by gill nets. This provision to allow subsistence 
possession and use of yellow-billed loons caught in fishing gill nets 
is subject to annual review and has been proposed for renewal in 2006, 
as part of Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest.

How Does the Service Address the Birds of Conservation Concern Relative 
to the Subsistence Harvest?

    Birds of Conservation Concern (BCC) 2002 is the latest document in 
a continuing effort by the Service to assess and prioritize bird 
species for conservation purposes. It was published in the Federal 
Register on February 6, 2003 (68 FR 6179). The BCC list identifies bird 
species at risk because of inherently small populations, restricted 
ranges, severe population declines, or imminent threats. The species 
listed need increased conservation attention to maintain or stabilize 
populations. The legal authority for this effort is the Fish and 
Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA) of 1980, as amended. Section 13(a)(3) 
of the FWCA, 16 U.S.C. 2912(a)(3), requires the Secretary of the 
Interior through the Service, to ``identify species, subspecies and 
populations of all migratory nongame birds that, without additional 
conservation actions, are likely to become candidates for listing under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543).''
    The Co-management Council will continually review the list of 
subsistence birds. As appropriate, the Council will elevate hunter 
awareness of species that may have small or declining populations in an 
effort to directly involve subsistence hunters in conserving these 
vulnerable species.

Public Comments Solicited

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. If you wish to comment, you may submit comments by any one of 
several methods. You may mail, fax, hand-deliver, or email comments to 
the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold 
their home addresses from the rulemaking record, which we will honor to 
the extent allowable by law. In some circumstances, we will also 
withhold from the rulemaking record a respondent's identity, as 
allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, 
you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. 
However, we will not consider anonymous comments. We will make all 
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals 
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations 
or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. You 
may inspect comments received on the proposed regulations during normal 
business hours at the Service's office in Anchorage, Alaska.
    In developing the final rule, we will consider each comment 
received during the public comment period. In the final rule, we may 
not respond in detail to each comment received during the comment 
period, but we will summarize all comments received and respond to 

Statutory Authority

    We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the four 
migratory bird treaties with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia and from 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.), that 
implements these treaties. Specifically, these regulations are issued 
pursuant to 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which authorizes the Secretary of the 
Interior, in accordance with these four treaties, to ``issue such 
regulations as may be necessary to assure that the taking of migratory 
birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants 
of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional 
and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the 
Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the 
preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.''

Executive Order 12866

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write regulations 
that are easy to understand. We invite your 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?

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    (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?
    Send a copy of any comments regarding how we could make this rule 
easier to understand to: Office of Regulatory Affairs, Department of 
the Interior, Room 7229, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240. You 
may also e-mail the comments to this address: Exsec@ios.doi.gov.
    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this 
document is not a significant rule subject to OMB review under 
Executive Order 12866.
    a. This rule will not have an annual economic effect of $100 
million or more or adversely affect an economic sector, productivity, 
jobs, the environment, or other units of government. The rule does not 
provide for new or additional hunting opportunities and therefore will 
have minimal economic or environmental impact. This rule benefits those 
participants who engage in the subsistence harvest of migratory birds 
in Alaska in two identifiable ways: first, participants receive the 
consumptive value of the birds harvested; and second, participants get 
the cultural benefit associated with the maintenance of a subsistence 
economy and way of life. The Service can estimate the consumptive value 
for birds harvested under this rule but does not have a dollar value 
for the cultural benefit of maintaining a subsistence economy and way 
of life.
    The economic value derived from the consumption of the harvested 
migratory birds has been estimated using the results of a paper by 
Robert J. Wolfe titled ``Subsistence Food Harvests in Rural Alaska, and 
Food Safety Issues'' (August 13, 1996). Using data from Wolfe's paper 
and applying it to the areas that will be included in this process, we 
determined a maximum economic value of $6 million. This is the 
estimated economic benefit of the consumptive part of this rule for 
participants in subsistence hunting. The cultural benefits of 
maintaining a subsistence economy and way of life can be of 
considerable value to the participants, and these benefits are not 
included in this figure.
    b. This rule will not create inconsistencies with other agencies' 
actions. We are the Federal agency responsible for the management of 
migratory birds, coordinating with the State of Alaska's Department of 
Fish and Game on management programs within Alaska. The State of Alaska 
is a member of the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council.
    c. This rule will not materially affect entitlements, grants, user 
fees, loan programs, or the rights and obligations of their recipients. 
The rule does not affect entitlement programs.
    d. This rule will not raise novel legal or policy issues. The 
subsistence harvest regulations will go through the same national 
regulatory process as the existing migratory bird hunting regulations 
in 50 CFR part 20.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior certifies that this rule will not 
have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 
et seq.). An initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. 
Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. The rule 
legalizes a pre-existing subsistence activity, and the resources 
harvested will be consumed by the harvesters or persons within their 
local community.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, as discussed in the 
Executive Order 12866 section above.
    a. This rule does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more. It will legalize and regulate a traditional 
subsistence activity. It will not result in a substantial increase in 
subsistence harvest or a significant change in harvesting patterns. The 
commodities being regulated under this rule are migratory birds. This 
rule deals with legalizing the subsistence harvest of migratory birds 
and, as such, does not involve commodities traded in the marketplace. A 
small economic benefit from this rule derives from the sale of 
equipment and ammunition to carry out subsistence hunting. Most, if not 
all, businesses that sell hunting equipment in rural Alaska would 
qualify as small businesses. We have no reason to believe that this 
rule will lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits.
    b. This rule will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions. This rule does not deal with traded 
commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices for 
    c. This rule does not have significant adverse effects on 
competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the 
ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based 
enterprises. This rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for 
personal consumption. It does not regulate the marketplace in any way 
to generate effects on the economy or the ability of businesses to 

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certified pursuant to the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) that this rule will not impose a 
cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or 
tribal governments or private entities. A statement containing the 
information required by this Act is therefore not necessary. 
Participation on regional management bodies and the Co-management 
Council will require travel expenses for some Alaska Native 
organizations and local governments. In addition, they will assume some 
expenses related to coordinating involvement of village councils in the 
regulatory process. Total coordination and travel expenses for all 
Alaska Native organizations are estimated to be less than $300,000 per 
year. In the Notice of Decision (65 FR 16405, March 28, 2000) we 
identified 12 partner organizations (Alaska Native non-profits and 
local governments) to be responsible for administering the regional 
programs. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will also incur 
expenses for travel to Co-management Council and regional management 
body meetings. In addition, the State of Alaska will be required to 
provide technical staff support to each of the regional management 
bodies and to the Co-management Council. Expenses for the State's 
involvement may exceed $100,000 per year, but should not exceed 
$150,000 per year. When funding permits, we make annual grant 
agreements available to the partner organizations and the Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game to help offset their expenses.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule has been examined under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 and has been found to contain no information collection 
requirements. We have, however, received OMB approval of associated 
voluntary annual household surveys used to determine levels of 
subsistence take. The OMB control number for the information collection 
is 1018-0124, which expires on October 31, 2006. An agency may not 
conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a 
collection of

[[Page 55696]]

information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Federalism Effects

    As discussed in the Executive Order 12866 and Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act sections above, this rule does not have sufficient 
federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism 
Assessment under Executive Order 13132. We worked with the State of 
Alaska on development of these regulations.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    In accordance with Executive Order 12988, the Office of the 
Solicitor has determined that the rule does not unduly burden the 
judicial system and that it meets the requirements of Section 3 of the 

Takings Implication Assessment

    This rule is not specific to particular land ownership, but applies 
to the harvesting of migratory bird resources throughout Alaska. 
Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 12630, this rule does not 
have significant takings implications.

Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations With Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), and Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, 
November 6, 2000), concerning consultation and coordination with Indian 
Tribal Governments, we have consulted with Alaska tribes and evaluated 
the rule for possible effects on tribes or trust resources, and have 
determined that there are no significant effects. The rule will legally 
recognize the subsistence harvest of migratory birds and their eggs for 
tribal members, as well as for other indigenous inhabitants.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of annual spring and summer subsistence 
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 harvesting is not likely to jeopardize the continued 
existence of any species designated as endangered or threatened, or 
modify or destroy its critical habitats and that it is consistent with 
conservation programs for those species. Consultations under Section 7 
of this Act conducted in connection with the environmental assessment 
for the annual subsistence take regulations may cause us to change 
these regulations. Our biological opinion resulting from the Section 7 
consultation is a public document available for public inspection at 
the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.

National Environmental Policy Act Consideration

    The annual regulations and options were considered in the 
Environmental Assessment, ``Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting 
in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2006 Spring/Summer Harvest,'' 
issued September 5, 2005. Copies are available from the address 
indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (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. Because this rule only 
allows for traditional subsistence harvest and improves conservation of 
migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest, it is 
not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 which 
requires federal agencies to write regulations that are easy to 
understand. Consequently it is not expected to significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution and use. Therefore, this action is not a 
significant energy action under Executive Order 13211 and no Statement 
of Energy Effects is required.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92

    Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Subsistence, Treaties, Wildlife.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend title 
50, chapter I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as 


    1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712.

Subpart C--General Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

    2. In subpart C, amend Sec.  92.20 by adding paragraph (j) to read 
as follows:

Sec.  92.20  Methods and means.

* * * * *
    (j) Using private or chartered aircraft for hunting or transporting 
hunters, except for transportation between community airstrips (Unit 
18, Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta Region only).

Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

    3. In Subpart D, add Sec. Sec.  92.31 through 92.33 to read as 

Sec.  92.31  Migratory bird species closed to subsistence harvest.

    (a) Because of conservation concerns, you may not harvest birds or 
gather eggs from the following species in 2006:
    (1) Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri).
    (2) Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri).
    (3) Emperor Goose (Chen canagica).
    (4) Aleutian Canada Goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia)--Semidi 
Islands only.
    (5) Yellow-billed Loons (Gavia adamsii)--Except in the North Slope 
Region only, a total of up to 20 yellow-billed loons inadvertently 
caught in fishing nets may be kept for subsistence purposes.
    (b) In addition, you may not gather eggs from the following species 
in 2006:
    (1) Cackling Canada Goose (Branta canadensis minima).
    (2) Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans)--in the Yukon/Kuskokwim 
Delta and North Slope regions only.

Sec.  92.32  Subsistence migratory bird species.

    You may harvest birds or gather eggs from the following species, 
listed in taxonomic order, within all included regions. When birds are 
listed only to the species level, all subspecies existing in Alaska are 
open to harvest.
    (a) Family Anatidae.
    (1) Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons).
    (2) Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens).
    (3) Lesser Canada Goose (Branta canadensis parvipes).
    (4) Taverner's Canada Goose (Branta canadensis taverneri).
    (5) Aleutian Canada Goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia)--except 
in the Semidi Islands.
    (6) Cackling Canada Goose (Branta canadensis minima)--except no egg 
gathering is permitted.
    (7) Black Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans)--except no egg 
gathering is permitted in the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta and the North Slope 
    (8) Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)--except in Units 9(D) and 10.
    (9) Gadwall (Anas strepera).
    (10) Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope).

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    (11) American Wigeon (Anas americana).
    (12) Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).
    (13) Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors).
    (14) Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata).
    (15) Northern Pintail (Anas acuta).
    (16) Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca).
    (17) Canvasback (Aythya valisineria).
    (18) Redhead (Aythya americana).
    (19) Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris).
    (20) Greater Scaup (Aythya marila).
    (21) Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis).
    (22) King Eider (Somateria spectabilis).
    (23) Common Eider (Somateria mollissima).
    (24) Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus).
    (25) Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata).
    (26) White-winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca).
    (27) Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra).
    (28) Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis).
    (29) Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola).
    (30) Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula).
    (31) Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica).
    (32) Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus).
    (33) Common Merganser (Mergus merganser).
    (34) Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator).
    (b) Family Gaviidae.
    (1) Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata).
    (2) Arctic Loon (Gavia arctica).
    (3) Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica).
    (4) Common Loon (Gavia immer).
    (5) Yellow-billed Loon (Gavia adamsii)--In the North Slope Region 
only, a total of up to 20 yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught in 
fishing nets may be kept for subsistence purposes.
    (c) Family Podicipedidae.
    (1) Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus).
    (2) Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena).
    (d) Family Procellariidae.
    (1) Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis).
    (2) [Reserved].
    (e) Family Phalacrocoracidae.
    (1) Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus).
    (2) Pelagic Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus).
    (f) Family Gruidae.
    (1) Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis).
    (2) [Reserved].
    (g) Family Charadriidae.
    (1) Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola).
    (2) Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula).
    (h) Family Haematopodidae.
    (1) Black Oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani).
    (2) [Reserved].
    (i) Family Scolopacidae.
    (1) Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca).
    (2) Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes).
    (3) Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia).
    (4) Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica).
    (5) Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres).
    (6) Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla).
    (7) Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri).
    (8) Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla).
    (9) Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii).
    (10) Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata).
    (11) Dunlin (Calidris alpina).
    (12) Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus).
    (13) Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago).
    (14) Red-necked phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus).
    (15) Red phalarope (Phalaropus fulicaria).
    (j) Family Laridae.
    (1) Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus).
    (2) Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus).
    (3) Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus).
    (4) Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia).
    (5) Mew Gull (Larus canus).
    (6) Herring Gull (Larus argentatus).
    (7) Slaty-backed Gull (Larus schistisagus).
    (8) Glaucous-winged Gull (Larus glaucescens).
    (9) Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus).
    (10) Sabine's Gull (Xema sabini).
    (11) Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla).
    (12) Red-legged Kittiwake (Rissa brevirostris).
    (13) Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea).
    (14) Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea).
    (15) Aleutian Tern (Sterna aleutica).
    (k) Family Alcidae.
    (1) Common Murre (Uria aalge).
    (2) Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia).
    (3) Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle).
    (4) Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba).
    (5) Cassin's Auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus).
    (6) Parakeet Auklet (Aethia psittacula).
    (7) Least Auklet (Aethia pusilla).
    (8) Whiskered Auklet (Aethia pygmaea).
    (9) Crested Auklet (Aethia cristatella).
    (10) Rhinoceros Auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata).
    (11) Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata).
    (12) Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata).
    (l) Family Strigidae.
    (1) Great Horned Owl (Bubo scandiacus).
    (2) Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca).

Sec.  92.33  Region-specific regulations.

    The 2006 season dates for the eligible subsistence regions are as 
    (a) Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Region.
    (1) Northern Unit (Pribilof Islands):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 30.
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (2) Central Unit (Aleut Region's eastern boundary on the Alaska 
Peninsula westward to and including Unalaska Island):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 16-July 15.
    (iii) Special Black Brant Season Closure: August 16-August 31, only 
in Izembek and Moffet lagoons.
    (3) Western Unit (Umnak Island west to and including Attu Island):
    (i) Season: April 2-July 15 and August 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: July 16-August 15.
    (b) Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta Region.
    (1) Season: April 2-August 31.
    (2) Closure: 30-day closure dates to be announced by the Alaska 
Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with local 
subsistence users, field biologists, and the Association of Village 
Council President's Waterfowl Conservation Committee. This 30-day 
period will occur between June 1 and August 15 of each year. A press 
release announcing the actual closure dates will be forwarded to 
regional newspapers and radio and television stations and posted in 
village post offices and stores.
    (3) Special Black Brant and Cackling Goose Season Hunting Closure: 
From the period when egg laying begins until young birds are fledged. 
Closure dates to be announced by the Alaska Regional Director or his 
designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association 
of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation Committee. A 
press release announcing the actual closure dates will be forwarded to 
regional newspapers and radio and television stations and posted in 
village post offices and stores.
    (4) Special Area Closure: (i) The following described goose nesting

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colonies are closed to all hunting and egg gathering from the period of 
nest initiation until young birds are fledged:
    (A) Kokechik Bay Colony--bounded by 61.61[deg]N to 61.67[deg]N and 
165.83[deg]W to 166.08[deg]W;
    (B) Tutakoke River Colony--bounded by 61.20[deg]N to 61.28[deg]N 
and 165.08[deg]W to 165.13[deg]W;
    (C) Kigigak Island Colony `` bounded by island's edge;
    (D) Baird Peninsula Colony--bounded by 60.87[deg]N to 60.91[deg]N 
and 164.65[deg]W to 165.80[deg]W, and
    (E) Baird Island Colony--bounded by island's edge.
    (ii) Closure dates to be announced by the Alaska Regional Director 
or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the 
Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation 
Committee. A press release announcing the actual closure dates will be 
forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations and 
posted in village post offices and stores.
    (c) Bristol Bay Region.
    (1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31 (general season); 
April 2-July 15 for seabird egg gathering only.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15 (general season); July 16-August 31 
(seabird egg gathering).
    (d) Bering Strait/Norton Sound Region.
    (1) Stebbins/St. Michael Area (Point Romanof to Canal Point):
    (i) Season: April 15-June 14 and July 16-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 15-July 15.
    (2) Remainder of the region:
    (i) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31 for waterfowl; 
April 2-July 19 and August 21-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 15-July 15 for waterfowl; July 20-August 20 for 
all other birds.
    (e) Kodiak Archipelago Region, except for the Kodiak Island roaded 
area, is closed to the harvesting of migratory birds and their eggs. 
The closed area consists of all lands and waters (including exposed 
tidelands) east of a line extending from Crag Point in the north to the 
west end of Saltery Cove in the south and all lands and water south of 
a line extending from Termination Point along the north side of Cascade 
Lake extending to Anton Larson Bay. Waters adjacent to the closed area 
are closed to harvest within 500 feet from the water's edge. The 
offshore islands are open to harvest.
    (1) Season: April 2-June 20 and July 22-August 31; egg gathering: 
May 1-June 20.
    (2) Closure: June 21-July 21.
    (f) Northwest Arctic Region.
    (1) Season: April 2-August 31 (in general); waterfowl egg gathering 
May 20-June 9; seabird egg gathering July 3-July 12; molting/non-
nesting waterfowl July 1-July 31.
    (2) Closure: June 10-August 14, except for the taking of seabird 
eggs and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) 
of this section.
    (g) North Slope Region.
    (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary east 
to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude line 158[deg]30[min]S 
and south of the latitude line 70[deg]45[min]E to west bank of the 
Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude line 
69[deg]45[min]E between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east 
bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 29 and July 30-August 31 for seabirds; 
April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 30-July 29 for seabirds; June 20-July 19 for all 
other birds.
    (2) Northern Unit (At Peard Bay, everything east of the longitude 
line 158[deg]30'S and north of the latitude line 70[deg]45[min]E to 
west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude 
line 69[deg]45[min]E between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the 
east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 6-June 6 and July 7-August 31 for king and common 
eiders and April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31 for all other birds.
    (ii) Closure: June 7-July 6 for king and common eiders; June 16-
July 15 for all other birds.
    (3) Eastern Unit (East of eastern bank of the Sagavanirktok River):
    (i) Season: April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 20-July 19.
    (4) All Units: yellow-billed loons. Annually, a total of up to 20 
yellow-billed loons may be caught inadvertently in subsistence fishing 
nets in the North Slope Region and kept for subsistence use. 
Individuals must report each yellow-billed loon inadvertently caught 
while subsistence gill net fishing to the North Slope Borough 
Department of Wildlife Management by the end of the season.
    (h) Interior Region.
    (1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31; egg gathering 
May 1-June 14.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15.
    (i) Upper Copper River (Harvest Area: State of Alaska Game 
Management Units 11 and 13) (Eligible communities: Gulkana, Chitina, 
Tazlina, Copper Center, Gakona, Mentasta Lake, Chistochina and 
    (1) Season: April 15-May 26 and June 27-August 31.
    (2) Closure: May 27-June 26.
    (3) Note: The Copper River Basin communities listed above also 

documented traditional use harvesting birds in Unit 12, making them 
eligible to hunt in this unit using the seasons specified in paragraph 
(h) of this section.
    (j) Gulf of Alaska Region.
    (1) Prince William Sound Area (Harvest area: Unit 6 [D]), (Eligible 
Chugach communities: Chenega Bay, Tatitlek).
    (i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 1-30.
    (2) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: Unit 15[C] South of a line 
connecting the tip of Homer Spit to the mouth of Fox River) (Eligible 
Chugach Communities: Port Graham, Nanwalek).
    (i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
    (ii) Closure: June 1-30.
    (k) Cook Inlet (Harvest area: portions of Unit 16[B] as specified 
below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only).
    (1) Season: April 2-May 31-That portion of Unit 16(B) south of the 
Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and August 1-31-That 
portion of Unit 16(B) south of the Beluga River, Beluga Lake, and the 
Triumvirate Glacier.
    (2) Closure: June 1-July 31.
    (l) Southeast Alaska.
    (1) Community of Hoonah (Harvest area: National Forest lands in Icy 
Strait and Cross Sound, including Middle Pass Rock near the Inian 
Islands, Table Rock in Cross Sound, and other traditional locations on 
the coast of Yakobi Island. The land and waters of Glacier Bay National 
Park remain closed to all subsistence harvesting [50 CFR Part 100.3]).
    (i) Season: glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (2) Communities of Craig and Hydaburg (Harvest area: small islands 
and adjacent shoreline of western Prince of Wales Island from Point 
Baker to Cape Chacon, but also including Coronation and Warren 
    (i) Season: glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
    (3) Community of Yakutat (Harvest area: Icy Bay [Icy Cape to Pt. 
Riou], and coastal lands and islands bordering the Gulf of Alaska from 
Pt. Manby southeast to Dry Bay.
    (i) Season: glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 
    (ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.

[[Page 55699]]

    Dated: September 14, 2005.
Craig Manson,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 05-18972 Filed 9-21-05; 8:45 am]