3.2 Responsibility. The Office of Migratory Bird Management is responsible for the conduct of the regulations development process, including the compilation of data, fulfillment of administrative requirements, preparation of Federal Register documents, and coordination of the various participants in the process.
3.3 Resource Data. Data regarding the condition and status of game bird populations, the condition of major habitat areas, the anticipated effect of the regulations, the relative size and distribution of the harvest, as well as the level of hunter participation is collected and compiled in order to develop the migratory bird hunting regulations. In this regard, the Service annually conducts population, production, and harvest surveys for most migratory game birds. These activities are described in Part 722 FW.
3.4 Regulatory Requirements.
A. The process of developing these regulations must follow the requirements contained in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20, Subpart N, which specifies/dictates the extent of notice necessary for certain meetings and the opportunities available for public observation, participation, and comment during those meetings. Subpart N also provides requirements for items which should be contained in a public file.
B. The rulemaking process described in Part 202 FW (to be published) must be followed.
3.5 Consultation and Coordination. In addition, the Service is responsible for ensuring that the regulations are developed in full cooperation with the States and that the process is open to comment by the States, either individually or collectively through Flyway Councils, and the public. The Service attempts to complete the process in an open and cooperative forum, giving full consideration to public comments received.
A. The process of developing these regulations (Exhibit 1) begins in January with a meeting of the Service Regulations Committee and other Service personnel. Preliminary regulatory proposals are developed for the coming year and published in the Federal Register as a notice of proposed rulemaking. At this time, comment periods are established for both early-season and late-season regulations. The Flyway Councils and their Technical Committees, as well as individual States and the public, then have an opportunity to respond to these proposals as well as to forward their own recommendations and suggestions to the Service. A supplemental proposed rulemaking document is prepared and published that contains Flyway Council recommendations and suggestions from the public that vary from the original proposals.
B. The remainder of the process is divided into two phases: the early-season and late-season phases. In each phase, the Service Regulations Committee meets with Flyway Consultants; public hearings are held; proposed frameworks are developed and published in the Federal Register; and an abbreviated open comment period is established. Following this comment period, final frameworks are established and published in the Federal Register; season options are selected by States and Territories from within the frameworks; and, finally, these selections are published in the Federal Register. Both phases follow a rigid schedule to ensure that the appropriate population information can be considered and all administrative requirements of both the Service and States can be met.
(1) Early-Season Regulations. Flyway Consultants and the Service meet in Washington, D.C., in late June. The Service Regulations Committee considers the status of the resource and weighs recommendations from the Flyway Councils and the Service prior to forwarding its own recommendations for action to the Director. Next, a public hearing is held to solicit the views of the public. Proposed regulation frameworks are then published in the Federal Register according to a schedule that ensures adequate public notification of the regulatory intent and time for public comment. Following the comment period, the Service finalizes the frameworks. Each State and Territory selects its seasons, usually following its own schedule of public hearings and other deliberations. States and Territories must make their selections from within the Federal frameworks. After the selections are completed, the Service verifies that they are in compliance with the frameworks and then publishes them in the Federal Register. The States and Territories, in turn, publish their selections together with pertinent parts of the Federal basic regulations in their regulations leaflets.
(2) Late-Season Regulations. In late July, Technical Committees and Flyway Councils meet and develop late-season recommendations. The remainder of the late-season phase of the regulations development process is the same as that for the early-season phase.
3.7 Publication of Seasons. Because the Code of Federal Regulations is not available until March (after the seasons have closed), the State selections, representing the hunting seasons and limits for that year, are not published in Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations Part 20, Subpart K. Instead, the Federal Register final rule containing the State's season selections represents the final product of the regulations development process. In addition, the Federal Register final rule containing the final frameworks addresses and summarizes the public comments and the council recommendations, and represents a record of that year's regulations development process.