[Federal Register: June 17, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 116)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 32757-32764]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 32757]]



Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 20

Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations; Notice of Meetings; Proposed Rule

[[Page 32758]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AF24

Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations; Notice of Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter Service or we) 
proposed in an earlier document to establish annual hunting regulations 
for certain migratory game birds for the 1999-2000 hunting season. This 
supplement to the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule; 
announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway 
Council meetings; and describes the proposed regulatory alternatives 
for the 1999-2000 duck hunting seasons and other proposed changes from 
the 1998-99 hunting regulations.

DATES: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will consider 
and develop proposed regulations for early-season migratory bird 
hunting on June 22 and 23, and for late-season migratory bird hunting 
on August 3 and 4. All meetings will commence at approximately 8:30 
a.m. To comment on the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 1999-
2000 duck hunting seasons, you must submit your comments by July 2, 
1999. To comment on the proposed migratory bird hunting-season 
frameworks for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and 
other early seasons, you must do so by July 27, 1999. To comment on the 
proposed late-season frameworks, you must do so by September 7, 1999.

ADDRESSES: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet 
in room 200 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arlington Square 
Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. Send your 
comments on the proposals to the Chief, Office of Migratory Bird 
Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, 
ms 634-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240. All comments 
received, including names and addresses, will become part of the public 
record. You may inspect comments during normal business hours in room 
634, Arlington Square Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jonathan Andrew, Chief, or Ron W. 
Kokel, Office of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, (703) 358-1714.


Regulations Schedule for 1999

    On May 3, 1999, we published in the Federal Register (64 FR 23742) 
a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal dealt with the 
establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for migratory 
game birds under Sec. 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of 
subpart K. This document is the second in a series of proposed, 
supplemental, and final rules for migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. We will publish early-season frameworks and final 
regulatory alternatives for the 1999-2000 duck hunting seasons in mid-
July and late-season frameworks in mid-August. We will publish final 
regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about August 20, 1999, 
and those for late seasons on or about September 27, 1999.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The June 22-23 meetings will review information on the current 
status of migratory shore and upland game birds and develop 1999-2000 
migratory game bird regulations recommendations 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 will review and discuss preliminary 
information on the status of waterfowl as it relates to the development 
and selection of the regulatory packages for the 1999-2000 regular 
waterfowl seasons.
    The August 3-4 meetings will review information on the current 
status of waterfowl and develop 1999-2000 migratory game bird 
regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl seasons and other 
species and seasons not previously discussed at the early season 
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Director on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the following meetings 
of the Flyway Councils:
Atlantic Flyway, July 29-30, Key West, Florida, (Hilton Resort and 
Mississippi Flyway, July 27-29, Merrillville, Indiana (Radisson)
Central Flyway, July 29-30, Bartlesville, Oklahoma (hotel to be 
Pacific Flyway, July 30, Reno, Nevada (Peppermill Hotel)
    Although agendas are not yet available, these meetings usually 
commence at 8:30 a.m. on the days indicated.

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 1999-2000 duck hunting seasons. We have included 
and addressed all comments and recommendations received through May 24, 
1999, relating to the development of these alternatives.
    This supplemental rulemaking also describes other recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the May 3, 
1999, Federal Register. We have included only those recommendations 
requiring either new proposals or substantial modification of the 
preliminary proposals.
    This supplement does not include recommendations or comments that 
simply support or oppose preliminary proposals and provide no 
recommended alternatives. We will consider these comments later in the 
regulations-development process. We will publish responses to all 
proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks.
    We seek additional information and comments on the recommendations 
in this supplemental proposed rule. New proposals and modifications to 
previously described proposals are discussed below. Wherever possible, 
they are discussed under headings corresponding to the numbered items 
in the May 3, 1999, Federal Register.

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) Harvest Strategy Considerations, (B) Framework 
Dates, (C) Season Length, (D) Closed Seasons, (E) Bag Limits, (F) Zones 
and Split Seasons, and (G) Special Seasons/Species Management. The 
categories correspond to previous published issues/discussion and only 
those containing substantial recommendations are discussed below.
A. Harvest Strategy Considerations
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
continued use of the 1998-99 duck hunting packages for the 1999-2000 
season. They further recommended the

[[Page 32759]]

Service not allow framework date extensions in any States during the 
1999-2000 season.
    The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended the Service use the 1997-98 regulations packages 
for the 1999-2000 duck season, including frameworks dates from the 
Saturday nearest October 1 to the Sunday nearest January 20.
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended the Service continue use of the 1998-99 regulatory 
packages for the 1999-2000 season and further recommended deletion of 
the ``very restrictive'' alternative and modification of the framework 
opening and closing dates to the Saturday closest to September 23 to 
January 31 for all alternatives with no offsets (see further discussion 
in B. Framework Dates).
    The Central Flyway Council recommended the Service continue use of 
the 1998-99 regulatory packages for the 1999-2000 season with several 
modifications. The Council recommended opening framework dates of the 
Saturday closest to September 24 in the ``liberal'' and ``moderate'' 
regulatory alternatives with no offsets. The framework closing date 
would remain the Sunday closest to January 20. Additionally, the 
Council recommended that no additional changes be allowed to the 
packages for a five-year period (see further discussion in B. Framework 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended framework dates of the 
Saturday closest to September 23 to January 31 without offsets in the 
``liberal'' alternative and with offsets in the ``moderate'' 
alternative (as long as the offset does not exceed 7 days with a season 
of not less that 79 days in the Pacific Flyway). For the 
``restrictive'' and ``very restrictive'' alternatives, the Council 
recommended maintaining current framework dates (see further discussion 
in B. Framework Dates). The Council also recommended maintaining the 
current mallard bag limits and preserving the traditional differences 
in harvest opportunity both within and between Flyways.
    Service Response: For the 1999-2000 regular duck hunting season, we 
propose the four regulatory alternatives detailed in the accompanying 
table. Alternatives are specified for each Flyway and are designated as 
``VERY RES'' for the very restrictive, ``RES'' for the restrictive, 
``MOD'' for the moderate, and ``LIB'' for the liberal alternative. We 
will announce final regulatory alternatives and propose a specific 
regulatory alternative at the conclusion of the early-season 
regulations meetings in late June when survey data on waterfowl 
population and habitat status are available. Public comments will be 
accepted until July 2, 1999, and should be sent to the address under 
the caption ADDRESSES.
B. Framework Dates
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the Service not allow framework date extensions in any States 
during the 1999-2000 season.
    The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended no change in the framework dates from the 1997-98 
regulatory alternatives.
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended modification of the framework opening and closing 
dates to the Saturday closest to September 23 to January 31 for all 
regulatory alternatives with no offsets.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended an opening framework date of 
the Saturday closest to September 24 in the ``liberal'' and 
``moderate'' regulatory alternatives with no offsets. The framework 
closing date would remain the Sunday closest to January 20.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended framework dates of the 
Saturday closest to September 23 to January 31 without offsets in the 
``liberal'' alternative and with offsets in the ``moderate'' 
alternative (as long as the offset does not exceed 7 days with a season 
of not less that 79 days in the Pacific Flyway). For the 
``restrictive'' and ``very restrictive'' alternatives, the Council 
recommended maintaining current framework dates.
    Service Response: After considerable public debate concerning 
framework dates for the 1998-99 hunting season, in an August 5, 1998, 
Federal Register (63 FR 41926), we chose not to extend the framework 
closing date beyond January 20 in the Atlantic Flyway and the Sunday 
nearest January 20 in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways. 
That decision reflected public concerns that framework-date extensions 
could re-distribute hunting opportunities in unknown or undesirable 
ways; that there could be adverse biological impacts; and that the four 
Flyway Councils had not had sufficient opportunity to design an 
approach that could be supported by a majority of States. In 
recognition of these concerns, we expressed an interest in working with 
the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the 
National Flyway Council, and the four Flyway Councils to explore common 
goals, potential conflicts, and possible solutions in the debate over 
framework-date extensions. However, we also recognized the inherent 
difficulty in finding a consensus solution, principally because the 
issue involves highly subjective assessments of what constitutes the 
fair and equitable distribution of hunting opportunity among States.
    On September 29, 1998 (63 FR 51998), we published the final late-
season frameworks for migratory bird hunting regulations that States 
used to select their hunting seasons. On October 19, 1998, Congress 
directed us to offer a framework-date extension from the Sunday nearest 
January 20 to January 31 in the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, 
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee, provided the affected States 
agreed to reduce season length to offset the predicted increase in duck 
harvest. No public comment was accepted on this action because: (1) the 
framework dates were revised based on a directive from Congress; (2) 
public comment could not change the Congressional action; (3) there was 
insufficient time before the onset of hunting seasons in southern 
States; and (4) we had already received extensive public comment on the 
issue. Ultimately, the States of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee 
selected the framework-date extension, and the length of their hunting 
seasons was reduced from 60 to 51 days.
    In evaluating proposals for framework dates for the 1999-2000 
hunting season, we will continue to focus on several key issues, 
including: (1) the potential for biological impacts on the waterfowl 
resource, particularly on those species currently at depressed levels; 
(2) the technical difficulties associated with applying framework dates 
at a State, rather than Flyway, level; (3) the need to maintain 
framework dates as a viable tool, along with season length and bag 
limit, for regulating duck harvests; and (4) the acceptability of 
proposals to a broad range of stakeholders. In addition, we are 
particularly concerned about any modification to framework dates that 
would disrupt the functioning of Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM), 
which is intended to reduce long-standing uncertainties about the 
impacts of hunting regulations on waterfowl populations. An essential 
feature of the AHM process is a set of regulatory alternatives 
(including framework dates, season lengths, and bag limits) that is 
sufficiently stable over time to permit a reliable investigation of the 
relationships between regulations and harvest, and between harvest and 
subsequent duck population size.

[[Page 32760]]

    Proposals for framework extensions also will be evaluated based on 
our most recent biological assessment, which was conducted in response 
to a directive contained in the Senate Committee on Appropriations 
Report 105-227. Our assessment confirmed that extensions of opening and 
closing framework dates tend to increase the harvest of many duck 
species. Therefore, large-scale extensions, which are not accompanied 
by reductions in season length and/or bag limits, likely would increase 
the frequency of restrictive hunting regulations and the frequency of 
annual regulatory changes. Moreover, the assessment confirms that 
additional uncertainty about harvest levels, arising from novel changes 
to regulatory alternatives, will precipitate more conservative harvest 
strategies, at least in the short term.
    Last August, and again last November, we publicly endorsed the 
National Flyway Council's (NFC) overall review of the framework-dates 
issue. We commend the NFC for their continuing efforts to resolve this 
contentious issue and seek consensus among the Flyways. However, in 
reviewing the recent framework-date proposals from the four Flyway 
Councils, it is readily apparent that a consistent approach among or, 
in one case, within Flyways is still lacking. Apparently, there remains 
a diversity of opinions: (1) about the desirability of framework-date 
extensions at this time; (2) about the need for corresponding 
reductions in season length; (3) about whether extensions should be 
applied to opening dates, closing dates, or both; and (4) about the 
inclusion of framework-date extensions in some or all of the regulatory 
    We hope the Flyway Councils will continue to seek agreement on 
clear, definitive statements about harvest-management objectives, which 
include not only the overall desired level of hunting opportunity, but 
how that opportunity should be shared among States. Otherwise, we 
believe that tacit disagreement over the objectives of modifying 
framework dates will continue to undermine the biological and 
administrative foundations of the regulatory process. Therefore, we 
strongly believe that the debate over framework-date extensions could 
benefit from a more structured dialogue, in which Flyway Councils 
explore the sociological issues of fairness and equity underlying the 
framework-date issue. We acknowledge the difficulties associated with 
such a dialogue, but broad-based agreement on a regulatory approach to 
framework dates is unlikely in its absence.
    In the absence of consensus among the Flyways and with a 
recognition of the need for stable regulatory alternatives for AHM, for 
the 1999-2000 hunting season, we are proposing the continued use of the 
1998-99 regulatory alternatives published in the August 5, 1998, 
Federal Register, with one exception. For the States of Alabama, 
Mississippi, and Tennessee, we propose a 51-day season with a January 
31 framework closing date in the ``liberal'' alternative. Of the six 
States that were offered the framework extension in the 1998-99 season, 
only these three States availed themselves of this option. We believe 
that a reduction in season length is needed to offset the expected 
increase in duck harvest (about 18% for mallards), and that 9 days is a 
commensurate offset for this region of the country. The framework-date 
extension would be limited to the ``liberal'' regulatory alternative to 
avoid the introduction of additional uncertainty about harvest impacts 
at other regulatory levels, and to avoid the potential for late-season 
physiological or behavioral impacts on ducks when population levels are 
insufficient to support liberal seasons. Framework opening and closing 
dates for all other States would remain unchanged from those published 
in the August 5, 1998, Federal Register. Finally, we intend to maintain 
these framework-date specifications through the 2002-03 hunting season. 
This stability is necessary to assess the appropriateness of the 9-day 
offset for the extended framework closing date in the southern 
Mississippi Flyway, and to ensure that the AHM process can continue to 
increase our understanding of the effects of hunting on waterfowl 
populations. This understanding is essential to providing maximum 
levels of biologically sustainable hunting opportunity.
F. Zones and Split Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the Service add ``3 
zones with 2-way splits permitted in one or more zones'' as an 
additional option beginning in 2001. Further, because of the public 
input process many States undertake, the Committee recommended that 
States have up to one year to choose this option and provide the 
Service with its proposal (prior to the 2001 regular duck season 
regulations process).
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended that the Service consider offering all States the 
option of choosing 3 zones with a split season in each zone in the year 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended the Service engage the 
Flyway Councils in an evaluation of the guidelines for zoning and split 
seasons, prior to the 2001 ``open season'' on regulation changes.
G. Special Seasons/Species Management
i. Scaup
    We indicated our growing concern for the status and trends of North 
American scaup in September of last year (63 FR 51998) and May of this 
year (64 FR 23742). Additionally, scaup population status was a topic 
of discussion at the January 27, 1999, Service Regulations Committee 
meeting. We have also distributed a status report on scaup and provided 
some initial guidelines concerning a scaup harvest strategy to the 
Flyway Councils and others for consideration in the development of 
recommendations for the 1999-2000 hunting season. In response to this 
information, all four Flyways discussed the issue at their winter 
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the Service monitor and manage the harvest of greater and lesser 
scaup populations separately. They recommended that differences in 
harvest management, when required, be achieved through different daily 
bag limits applied on a regional basis. In the Atlantic Flyway, they 
recommended that in those regions harvesting primarily greater scaup, 
1999-2000 scaup harvest regulations be based on the status of greater 
scaup, while the remaining portions of the Flyway be based on the 
status of lesser scaup. They further recommended that population 
objectives and regulatory triggering levels be finalized at the summer 
Flyway Council meetings.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the scaup daily bag limit 
be reduced from 6 to 3 for 1999.
    The Central Flyway Council believes that the North American 
Waterfowl Management Plan's scaup population objective (6.3 million) is 
too high and that a more appropriate objective is 5.4 million (1955-
1998 average). This new objective would consist of 4.9 million lesser 
scaup and 462,000 greater scaup. The Council recommended a prescription 
for scaup bag limits based on the status of lesser scaup as follows: < 
2 million, bag limit of 1; 2-4.2 million, bag limit of 2; and > 4.2, 
the bag limit for scaup should equal the regular

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daily duck limit as determined by the AHM process.
    Service Response: We remain concerned about the long-term status 
and trends in North American scaup populations. Further, we appreciate 
the efforts of all four Flyway Councils to constructively address the 
issue of a harvest strategy for scaup and will continue to work with 
the Councils to finalize a harvest strategy for scaup for the 1999-2000 
 iv. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council requested that the Service clarify the 
linkage between the Flyway-wide wood duck harvest strategy, September 
teal seasons, and regional (reference area) September wood duck 
seasons. They further recommended the continuation of the experimental 
September teal/wood duck seasons in Kentucky and Tennessee in 1999 with 
no changes from the 1998 season.
v. Youth Hunt
    Council Recommendations: The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended a special 2-day youth 
waterfowl season.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended expansion of the special 
youth waterfowl hunt to 2 consecutive days.

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council made several 
recommendations concerning September goose seasons. They recommended 
the approval of operational status for a September 1 to 25 framework in 
Crawford County, Pennsylvania, and a September 1 to 30 framework in New 
Jersey beginning in 1999. They further recommended the expansion of the 
September goose season framework closing date around Montezuma National 
Wildlife Refuge, New York from September 15 to 20.
    The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended that Minnesota be allowed to have an experimental 
extension of their September special season from September 16 to 22, 
except in the Northwest Goose Zone, for the 1999, 2000, and 2001 
hunting seasons.
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council urged the Service to use caution in changing or expanding 
special goose seasons.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended the addition of the Bridger 
Valley hunt unit to the existing September RMP Canada goose seasons in 
western Wyoming, with frameworks of September 1 to 7.
B. Regular Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of 
the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the 1999 regular goose 
season opening date be as early as September 18 in Michigan and 

7. Snow and Ross's (Light) Geese

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council requested that 
the Service begin preparation of the NEPA documentation necessary for 
regulation changes needed to stabilize the greater snow goose 
population at 1.0 million by 2002. Their recommended changes include 
extension of the shooting hours to one-half hour after sunset, the use 
of electronic callers, unplugged shotguns, and conservation hunts. They 
requested initiation of these changes by the 1999-2000 season.

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
removal of the ``float'' portion (10 percent of the total allowable 
harvest) of the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) greater sandhill crane 
annual harvest allocation for the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 seasons. The 
Council recommended removal of this harvest portion to allow a research 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended several changes in sandhill 
crane seasons. For greater sandhill cranes, the Council recommended the 
establishment of a new experimental crane hunt in Box Elder County, 
Utah, between September 1 and September 30. For RMP cranes, the Council 
recommended that the frameworks be modified to include Bear Lake and 
Fremont Counties in Idaho, and that the current requirement for hunter 
check stations in these counties be waived. The Council further 
recommended that the annual check station requirement for the Arizona 
RMP Greater Sandhill Crane hunt be modified to a required check station 
every 3 years.

18. Alaska

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council made several 
recommendations concerning Alaska. For sea ducks, the Council 
recommended reducing the separate sea duck bag and possession limits 
from 15/30 to 10/20 king and common eiders, scoters, and mergansers in 
the aggregate. Long-tailed ducks (oldsquaws) and harlequins would be 
included in general duck limits and seasons would remain closed for 
spectacled and Steller's eiders. For Canada geese, the Council 
recommended removal of Canada goose bag limit restrictions within dark 
goose bag limits (4/8) in Alaska Game Management Subunit 9E (Alaska 
Peninsula) and Unit 18 (Y-K Delta). Further, for tundra swans, the 
Council recommended that tundra swan permits issued for swan hunts in 
Alaska allow the take of up to 3 swans per permit, with no change in 
reporting requirements or other framework conditions.

Public Comment Invited

    We intend that adopted final rules be as responsive as possible to 
all concerned interests, and therefore desire to obtain the comments 
and suggestions of the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
non-governmental organizations, and other private interests on these 
proposals. However, special circumstances are involved in the 
establishment of these regulations which limit the amount of time that 
we can allow for public comment. Specifically, two considerations 
compress the time in which the rulemaking process must operate: (1) the 
need to establish final rules at a point early enough in the summer to 
allow affected State agencies to appropriately adjust their licensing 
and regulatory mechanisms; and (2) the unavailability, before mid-June, 
of specific, reliable data on this year's status of some waterfowl and 
migratory shore and upland game bird populations. Therefore, we believe 
that to allow comment periods past the dates specified is contrary to 
the public interest.

Comment Procedure

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written 
comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed 
regulations. Before promulgation of final migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will take into consideration all comments received. 
Such comments, and any additional information received, may lead to 
final regulations that differ from these proposals. We invite 
interested persons to participate in this rulemaking by submitting 
written comments to the

[[Page 32762]]

address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.
    You may inspect comments received on the proposed annual 
regulations during normal business hours at the Service's office in 
room 634, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. For each 
series of proposed rulemakings, we will establish specific comment 
periods. We will consider, but possibly may not respond in detail to, 
each comment. As in the past, we will summarize all comments received 
during the comment period and respond to them after the closing date.

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 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). Copies are available from the address indicated 
under the caption ADDRESSES.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of the 1999-2000 migratory game bird hunting 
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 hunting is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of any species designated as endangered or threatened or modify or 
destroy its critical habitat and that the proposed action is consistent 
with conservation programs for those species. Consultations under 
Section 7 of this Act may cause us to change proposals in this and 
future supplemental proposed rulemaking documents.

Executive Order (E.O.) 12866

    While this individual supplemental rule was not reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the migratory bird hunting 
regulations are economically significant and are annually reviewed by 
OMB under E.O. 12866.
    E.O. 12866 requires each agency to write regulations that are easy 
to understand. We invite 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? (5) Is the description of the rule in the ``Supplementary 
Information'' section of the preamble helpful in understanding the 
rule? What else could the Service do to make the rule easier to 

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 and a Small 
Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis) was issued by the Service in 
1998. The Analysis documented the significant beneficial economic 
effect on a substantial number of small entities. 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 Analysis was based on the 1996 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 $429 and $1,084 million at small businesses in 1998. 
Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the Office of 
Migratory Bird Management.

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, we do not plan 
to defer the effective date 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. 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 Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program and assigned 
clearance number 1018-0015 (expires 09/30/2001). 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 Questionnaire and 
assigned clearance number 1018-0023 (expires 09/30/2000). The 
information from this survey is used to estimate the magnitude, the 
geographical and temporal distribution of harvest, and the portion its 
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 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.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that these regulations meet the applicable standards found in Sections 
3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

Takings Implication Assessment

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, this proposed 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.

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 and 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

[[Page 32763]]

developed in a cooperative process with the States and the Flyway 
Councils. This 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 
12612, these regulations do not have significant federalism effects and 
do not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism Assessment.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

    Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.
    The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 1999-2000 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 U.S.C. 712, 
and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: June 9, 1999.
Donald J. Barry,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.


[[Page 32764]]


[FR Doc. 99-15337 Filed 6-16-99; 8:45 am]