[Federal Register: August 30, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 167)]
[Page 47331-47333]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 47331]]


Part V

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


Migratory Bird Hunting; Environmental Impact Statement on White Goose 
Management; Notice


[[Page 47332]]

Fish and Wildlife Service

Migratory Bird Hunting; Environmental Impact Statement on White 
Goose Management; Notice

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of meetings.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or ``we'') is 
issuing this notice to invite public participation in the scoping 
process for preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that 
considers a range of management alternatives aimed at addressing 
population expansion of lesser snow geese, Ross' geese, and greater 
snow geese (white geese). This notice invites further public 
participation in the scoping process, identifies the location, date, 
and time of public scoping meetings, and identifies the Service 
official to whom questions and comments may be directed.

DATES: Written comments regarding EIS scoping should be submitted by 
November 22, 1999, to the address below. Dates for nine public scoping 
meetings are identified in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be sent to the Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 634--Arlington, VA 22203. 
Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically to the 
following address: white--goose--eis@fws.gov. The public may inspect 
comments during normal business hours in Room 634--Arlington Square 
Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. Locations for 
nine public scoping meetings are identified in the SUPPLEMENTARY 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Jon Andrew, Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, (703) 358-1714, or James Kelley, Office of Migratory 
Bird Management (703) 358-1964.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On May 13, 1999, we published a Notice of 
Intent to prepare an EIS on white goose management (64 FR 26268). This 
action is in response to population expansion of white geese, which has 
resulted in habitat degradation in certain breeding, migration, and/or 
wintering areas of the three species of geese involved.

Lesser Snow Geese and Ross' Geese

    We believe that the combined population of lesser snow geese and 
Ross' geese in the mid-continent region has exceeded the long-term 
carrying capacity of its breeding habitat and must be reduced. These 
geese have become seriously injurious to their arctic and subarctic 
habitat and habitat important to other migratory birds. We believe that 
population reduction measures are necessary to prevent further habitat 
destruction and to protect the remaining habitat upon which numerous 
wildlife species depend. The Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group 
estimated that the combined population of lesser snow geese and Ross' 
geese in the mid-continent region should be reduced by 50% by 2005 
(Batt 1997). That would suggest a reduction from the 1999 winter index 
of approximately 2.8 million birds to approximately 1.4 million birds.

Greater Snow Geese

    The greater snow goose population has expanded from less than 
50,000 birds in the late 1960s to approximately 700,000 today. With a 
growth rate of about 9% per year, the population is expected to reach 
1,000,000 by 2002 and 2,000,000 by 2010 (Batt 1998). While researchers 
have not documented the damage to the breeding habitat of greater snow 
geese to the same degree as the mid-continent white geese, high 
populations of greater snow geese are negatively impacting natural 
marshes in the St. Lawrence estuary and some coastal marshes of the 
Mid-Atlantic U.S (Batt 1998). The Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group 
recommended that the population be stabilized by the year 2002 at 
between 800,000 to 1,000,000 birds (Batt 1998). This strategy is 
intended to prevent the destruction of arctic habitat that is likely to 
occur if the population exceeds the carrying-capacity of breeding 


    We are considering the following alternatives as a result of public 
comments we received previously. After the scoping process, we will 
develop the alternatives to be included in the EIS and base them on the 
mission of the Service and comments received during scoping. We are 
soliciting your comments on issues, alternatives, and impacts to be 
addressed in the EIS.

A. No Action Alternative

    Under the No Action Alternative, no additional regulatory methods 
or direct population control strategies would be authorized. Existing 
white goose hunting regulations would remain in place.

B. New Regulatory Alternatives (Proposed Action)

    This alternative seeks to provide new regulatory options to 
wildlife management agencies that will increase the harvest of white 
geese above that which results from existing hunting frameworks. This 
approach may include legalization of additional hunting methods such as 
electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, and expanded shooting hours. This 
alternative also includes establishment of a conservation order in the 
U.S. to reduce and/or stabilize white goose populations. A conservation 
order would authorize taking of white geese after the normal framework 
closing date of March 10, through August 31.
    The intent of this alternative is to significantly reduce or 
stabilize white goose populations without threatening their long-term 
health. We are confident that reduction or stabilization efforts will 
not result in populations falling below either the lower management 
thresholds established by Flyway Councils, or the North American 
Waterfowl Management Plan population objectives. Monitoring and 
evaluation programs are in place to estimate population sizes and will 
be used to prevent over-harvest of these populations.

C. Direct Population Control on Wintering and Migration Areas in the 

    This alternative would involve direct population control strategies 
such as trapping and culling programs, market hunting, or other general 
strategies that would result in the killing of white geese on migration 
and/or wintering areas in the U.S. Some of these types of control 
measures could involve disposal of large numbers of carcasses.

D. Seek Direct Population Control on Breeding Grounds by Canada

    This alternative, if successful, would involve direct population 
control strategies, such as trapping and culling programs, market 
hunting, or other general strategies, that would result in killing of 
white geese on breeding colonies in Canada. Some of these types of 
control measures could involve disposal of large numbers of carcasses. 
We do not have the authority to implement direct population control 
measures on migration or breeding areas in Canada. Therefore, this 
alternative would require extensive consultation with Canada in order 
to urge implementation of control measures on breeding areas. Such 
measures may or

[[Page 47333]]

may not involve active U.S. participation.

Issue Resolution and Environmental Review

    The primary issue to be addressed during the scoping and planning 
process for the EIS is to determine which management alternatives for 
the control of white goose populations will be analyzed. We will 
prepare a discussion of the potential effect, by alternative, which 
will include the following areas:
    (1) White goose populations and their habitats.
    (2) Other bird populations and their habitats.
    (3) Effects on other species of flora and fauna.
    (4) Socioeconomic effects.
    Environmental review of the management action will be conducted in 
accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA), as appropriate. This Notice is being furnished in 
accordance with 40 CFR 1501.7, to obtain suggestions and information 
from other agencies, tribes, and the public on the scope of issues to 
be addressed in the EIS. A draft EIS should be available to the public 
in the winter of 2000.

Public Scoping Meetings

    Nine public scoping meetings will be held on the following dates at 
the indicated locations and times:
    1. September 29, 1999; Pomona, NJ at the Richard Stockton College 
of New Jersey, A Wing Lecture Hall, Jimmie Leeds Road, 7 p.m. to 9:30 
    2. September 30, 1999; Dover, DE at the Richardson and Robbins 
Auditorium, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental 
Control, 89 Kings Highway, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    3. October 3, 1999; Sacramento, CA at the Auditorium, Resource 
Building, 1416 Ninth St., 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
    4. October 5, 1999; Rosenberg, TX at the Texas Agricultural 
Extension Service Building, 1436 Band Road, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    5. October 6, 1999; Baton Rouge, LA at the Louisiana Room, First 
Floor, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Building, 2000 
Quail Drive, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    6. October 12, 1999; Bismarck, ND at the North Dakota Game and Fish 
Department Auditorium, 100 N. Bismarck Expressway, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    7. October 13, 1999; Bloomington, MN at the Best Western 
Thunderbird Hotel and Convention Center, 2201 East 78th Street, 7 p.m. 
to 9:30 p.m.
    8. October 14, 1999; Kansas City, MO at the Holiday Inn Sports 
Complex, 4011 Blue Ridge Cutoff, 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
    9. October 21, 1999; Washington, DC in the Auditorium of the 
Department of the Interior Building, 1849 C Street NW, 9 a.m. to 11:30 
    Meeting participants may choose to submit oral and/or written 
comments on the EIS scoping process. To facilitate planning, we request 
that individuals or organizations that desire to submit oral comments 
at meetings to send us their name and the meeting location at which 
comments will be submitted. Name and meeting location information 
should be sent to the location indicated under the ADDRESSES caption. 
However, submission of names prior to a particular meeting is not 
required in order to present oral comments at any meeting.
    Written comments may also be submitted by November 22, 1999, to the 
location indicated under the ADDRESSES caption. Alternatively, comments 
may be submitted electronically by November 22, 1999, to the following 
email address: white__goose__eis@fws.gov.

References Cited

Batt, B.D.J., editor. 1997. Arctic ecosystems in peril: report of 
the Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group. Arctic Goose Joint Venture 
Special Publication. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC 
and Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Ontario. 120pp.
Batt, B.D.J., editor. 1998. The greater snow goose: report of the 
Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group. Arctic Goose Joint Venture 
Special Publication. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC 
and Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, Ontario. 88pp.


    The primary author of this Notice is James R. Kelley, Jr., Office 
of Migratory Bird Management.

    Dated: August 24, 1999.
Paul R. Schmidt,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 99-22382 Filed 8-27-99; 8:45 am]