[Federal Register: September 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 184)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 55676-55722]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AU42

Migratory Bird Hunting; Late Seasons and Bag and Possession 
Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: This rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and 
daily bag and possession limits for general waterfowl seasons and those 
early seasons for which States previously deferred selection. Taking of 
migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by 
annual regulations. This rule permits the taking of designated species 
during the 2006-07 season.

DATES: This rule is effective on September 23, 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, proposed 
regulatory alternatives for the 2006-07 duck hunting season, and other 
regulations for hunting migratory game birds under Sec. Sec.  20.101 
through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. The April 11 proposal 
also identified major steps in the 2006-07 regulatory cycle relating to 
open public meetings and Federal Register notifications.
    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 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, 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, as well 
as 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. In the August 29, 2006, 
Federal Register (71 FR 51406), we published final frameworks for early 
migratory bird hunting seasons from which wildlife conservation agency 
officials from the States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands selected 
2006-07 early-season hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits. On August 
31, 2006, we published a final rule in the Federal Register (71 FR 
51930) amending subpart K of title 50 CFR part 20 to set hunting 
seasons, hours, areas, and limits for early seasons.
    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. On August 24, 2006, we published in the Federal Register (71 
FR 50224) the proposed frameworks for the 2006-07 late-season migratory 
bird hunting regulations. We published final late-season frameworks for 
migratory game bird hunting regulations, from which State wildlife 
conservation agency officials selected late-season hunting dates, 
hours, areas, and limits for 2006-07, in a September 2006, Federal 
    The final rule described here is the final in the series of 
proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory 
game bird hunting regulations for 2006-07 and deals specifically with 
amending subpart K of 50 CFR part 20. It sets hunting seasons, hours, 
areas, and limits for species subject to late-season regulations and 
those for early seasons that States previously deferred.

National Environmental Policy Act (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), and our Record of Decision on August 18, 1988 (53 
FR 31341). Annual NEPA considerations are covered under a separate 
Environmental Assessment (EA), ``Duck Hunting Regulations for 2006-
07,'' and a August 24, 2006, Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). 
Copies of the EA and FONSI are available upon request from the address 
indicated under 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

[[Page 55677]]

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 

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 through 1996, updated in 1998, and updated again in 2004. It is 
further discussed below, 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 million to $1.064 billion, with a midpoint 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 

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 through 1995. 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 

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, under the 
exemption in 5 U.S.C. 808 (1), we will not defer the effective date.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We examined these regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 
1995 (PRA). There are no new information collections in this rule that 
would require OMB approval under the PRA. The existing 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

    The Department, in promulgating this rule, has determined that this 
rule 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, this rule allows 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. (16 U.S.C. 703-711) 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 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 were contained in a 
separate rulemaking (August 17, 2006, Federal Register (71 FR 47461)). 
By virtue of these actions, we have consulted with all the Tribes 
affected by this rule.

[[Page 55678]]

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

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 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: September 19, 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-


[[Page 55679]]


[[Page 55680]]


[[Page 55681]]


[[Page 55682]]


[[Page 55683]]


[[Page 55684]]


[[Page 55685]]


[[Page 55686]]


[[Page 55687]]


[[Page 55688]]


[[Page 55689]]


[[Page 55690]]


[[Page 55691]]


[[Page 55692]]


[[Page 55693]]


[[Page 55694]]


[[Page 55695]]


[[Page 55696]]


[[Page 55697]]


[[Page 55698]]


[[Page 55699]]


[[Page 55700]]


[[Page 55701]]


[[Page 55702]]


[[Page 55703]]


[[Page 55704]]


[[Page 55705]]


[[Page 55706]]


[[Page 55707]]


[[Page 55708]]


[[Page 55709]]


[[Page 55710]]


[[Page 55711]]


[[Page 55712]]


[[Page 55713]]


[[Page 55714]]


[[Page 55715]]


[[Page 55716]]


[[Page 55717]]


[[Page 55718]]


[[Page 55719]]


[[Page 55720]]


[[Page 55721]]


[[Page 55722]]


[FR Doc. 06-8109 Filed 9-21-06; 8:45 am]