[Federal Register: August 31, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 169)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 51929-51965]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

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Part III

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 20

Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for 
Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, 
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; Final Rule

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Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AU42

Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession 
Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United 
States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and 
daily bag and possession limits of mourning, white-winged, and white-
tipped doves; band-tailed pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; 
woodcock; common snipe; sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) 
waterfowl seasons; migratory game birds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, 
and the Virgin Islands; and some extended falconry seasons. Taking of 
migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by 
annual regulations. This rule permits taking of designated species 
during the 2006-07 season.

DATES: This rule is effective on September 1, 2006.

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 2006

    On April 11, 2006, we published in the Federal Register (71 FR 
18562) 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, the 
proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2006-07 duck hunting season, 
and other regulations for migratory game birds under Sec. Sec.  20.101 
through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. On May 30, 2006, we 
published in the Federal Register (71 FR 30786) a second document 
providing supplemental proposals for early- and late-season migratory 
bird hunting regulations frameworks and the regulatory alternatives for 
the 2006-07 duck hunting season. The May 30 supplement also provided 
detailed information on the 2006-07 regulatory schedule and announced 
the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway 
Council meetings.
    On June 21 and 22, 2006, we held open meetings with the Flyway 
Council Consultants at which the participants reviewed information on 
the current status of migratory shore and upland game birds and 
developed recommendations for the 2006-07 regulations for these species 
plus regulations for migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and 
the Virgin Islands, special September waterfowl seasons in designated 
States, special sea duck seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended 
falconry seasons. In addition, we reviewed and discussed preliminary 
information on the status of waterfowl as it relates to the development 
and selection of the regulatory packages for the 2006-07 regular 
waterfowl seasons. On July 28, 2006, we published in the Federal 
Register (71 FR 43008) a third document specifically dealing with the 
proposed frameworks for early-season regulations.
    On July 26-27, 2006, we held open meetings with the Flyway Council 
Consultants at which the participants reviewed the status of waterfowl 
and developed recommendations for the 2006-07 regulations for these 
species. Proposed hunting regulations were discussed for late seasons. 
We published proposed frameworks for the 2006-07 late-season migratory 
bird hunting regulations on August 24, 2006, in the Federal Register 
(71 FR 50224). On August 29, 2006, we published a fifth document in the 
Federal Register which contained final frameworks for early migratory 
bird hunting seasons from which wildlife conservation agency officials 
from the States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands selected early-
season hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits.
    The final rule described here is the sixth in the series of 
proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory 
game bird hunting regulations and deals specifically with amending 
subpart K of 50 CFR part 20. It sets hunting seasons, hours, areas, and 
limits for mourning, white-winged, and white-tipped doves; band-tailed 
pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; woodcock; common snipe; 
sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) waterfowl seasons; 
mourning doves in Hawaii; migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, 
and the Virgin Islands; youth waterfowl hunting day; and some extended 
falconry seasons.

National Environmental Policy Act Consideration

    NEPA considerations are covered by the programmatic document 
``Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual 
Regulations Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (FSES 88-
14),'' filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 9, 1988. 
We published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on June 
16, 1988 (53 FR 22582). We published our Record of Decision on August 
18, 1988 (53 FR 31341). 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 notice published in 
the September 8, 2005, Federal Register (70 FR 53376), we announced our 
intent to develop a new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for 
the migratory bird hunting program. Public scoping meetings were held 
in the spring of 2006, as we announced in a March 9, 2006, Federal 
Register notice (71 FR 12216).

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 
1531-1543; 87 Stat. 884), provides that, ``The Secretary shall review 
other programs administered by him and utilize such programs in 
furtherance of the purposes of this Act'' (and) shall ``insure that any 
action authorized, funded, or carried out * * * is not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or 
threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification 
of [critical] habitat * * *.'' Consequently, we conducted formal 
consultations to ensure that actions resulting from these regulations 
would not likely jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or 
threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification 
of their critical habitat. Findings from these consultations are 
included in a biological opinion, which concluded that the regulations 
are not likely to adversely affect any endangered or threatened 
species. Additionally, these findings may have caused modification of 
some regulatory measures previously proposed, and the final frameworks 
reflect any such modifications. Our biological opinions resulting from 
this Section 7 consultation are public documents available for public 
inspection at the address indicated under ADDRESSES.

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Executive Order 12866

    The migratory bird hunting regulations are economically significant 
and were reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
Executive Order 12866. As such, a cost/benefit analysis was initially 
prepared in 1981. This analysis was subsequently revised annually from 
1990-96, updated in 1998, and updated again in 2004. It is further 
discussed under the heading Regulatory Flexibility Act. Results from 
the 2004 analysis indicate that the expected welfare benefit of the 
annual migratory bird hunting frameworks is on the order of $734 to 
$1,064 million, with a mid-point estimate of $899 million. Copies of 
the cost/benefit analysis are available upon request from the address 
indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.migratorybirds.gov

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    These regulations have a significant economic impact on substantial 
numbers of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.). We analyzed the economic impacts of the annual 
hunting regulations on small business entities in detail as part of the 
1981 cost-benefit analysis discussed under Executive Order 12866. This 
analysis was revised annually from 1990-95. In 1995, the Service issued 
a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), which was subsequently 
updated in 1996, 1998, and 2004. The primary source of information 
about hunter expenditures for migratory game bird hunting is the 
National Hunting and Fishing Survey, which is conducted at 5-year 
intervals. The 2004 Analysis was based on the 2001 National Hunting and 
Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce's County Business 
Patterns, from which it was estimated that migratory bird hunters would 
spend between $481 million and $1.2 billion at small businesses in 
2004. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the 
address indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.migratorybirds.gov

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 it establishes hunting seasons, we do not plan to 
defer the effective date required by 5 U.S.C. 801 under the exemption 
contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We examined these regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. 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 surveys associated with the Migratory 
Bird Harvest Information Program and assigned clearance number 1018-
0015 (expires 2/29/2008). 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 Survey and assigned 
clearance number 1018-0023 (expires 11/30/2007). 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

    In promulgating this rule, we have determined that it will not 
unduly burden the judicial system and that it 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 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 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.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    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. Thus, in accordance with the President's 
memorandum of April 29, 1994, ``Government-to-Government Relations with 
Native American Tribal Governments'' (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 
13175, and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on Federally 
recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects 
on Indian trust resources. However, in the April 11 proposed rule (71 
FR 18562) we solicited proposals for special migratory bird hunting 
regulations for certain Tribes on Federal Indian reservations, off-
reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 2006-07 migratory bird 
hunting season. The resulting proposals will be contained in a separate 
proposed rule. By virtue of these actions, we have consulted with all 
the Tribes affected by this rule.

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

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developed in a cooperative process with the States and the Flyway 
Councils. This process allows States to participate in the development 
of frameworks from which they will make selections, thereby having an 
influence on their own regulations. These rules do not have a 
substantial direct effect on fiscal capacity, change the roles or 
responsibilities of Federal or State governments, or intrude on State 
policy or administration. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 
13132, these regulations do not have significant federalism effects and 
do not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

Regulations Promulgation

    The rulemaking process for migratory game bird hunting must, by its 
nature, operate under severe time constraints. However, we intend that 
the public be given the greatest possible opportunity to comment. Thus, 
when the preliminary proposed rulemaking was published, we established 
what we believed were the longest periods possible for public comment. 
In doing this, we recognized that when the comment period closed, time 
would be of the essence. That is, if there were a delay in the 
effective date of these regulations after this final rulemaking, States 
would have insufficient time to select season dates and limits, to 
communicate those selections to us, and to establish and publicize the 
necessary regulations and procedures to implement their decisions. We 
therefore find that ``good cause'' exists, within the terms of 5 U.S.C. 
553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and these regulations 
will, therefore, take effect immediately upon publication. Accordingly, 
with each conservation agency having had an opportunity to participate 
in selecting the hunting seasons desired for its State or Territory on 
those species of migratory birds for which open seasons are now 
prescribed, and consideration having been given to all other relevant 
matters presented, certain sections of title 50, chapter I, subchapter 
B, part 20, subpart K, are hereby amended as set forth below.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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

    Dated: August 25, 2006.
David M. Verhey,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 50, chapter I, 
subchapter B, part 20, subpart K of the Code of Federal Regulations is 
amended as follows:


1. The authority citation for part 20 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j, Pub. L. 106-


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[FR Doc. 06-7257 Filed 8-30-06; 8:45 am]