[Federal Register: June 11, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 112)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 40127-40134]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 40127]]


Part VI

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 40128]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

RIN 1018-AI30

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

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental; reopening of comment period.


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 2002-03 hunting season. This 
supplement to the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule; 
announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway 
Council meetings; provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting 
from their April meetings; and provides new information and reopens the 
comment period on the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2002-03 
duck hunting seasons.

DATES: Comments on the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2002-03 
duck hunting seasons must be submitted by June 21, 2002.
    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet to 
consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season migratory 
bird hunting on June 19 and 20, 2002, and for late-season migratory 
bird hunting on July 31 and August 1, 2002. All meetings will commence 
at approximately 8:30 a.m. You must submit comments on the proposed 
migratory bird hunting-season frameworks for Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto 
Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other early seasons by July 30, 2002; and 
for proposed late-season frameworks by August 30, 2002.

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, Division 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: Robert J. Blohm, Acting Chief, or Ron 
W. Kokel, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, (703) 358-1714.


Regulations Schedule for 2002

    On March 19, 2002, we published in the Federal Register (67 FR 
12501) 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, and other 
regulations for migratory game birds under Secs. 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 proposed early-season 
frameworks and final regulatory alternatives for the 2002-03 duck 
hunting seasons in early July and late-season frameworks in early 
August. We will publish final regulatory frameworks for early seasons 
on or about August 20, 2002, and those for late seasons on or about 
September 15, 2002.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet June 19-
20, 2002, to review information on the current status of migratory 
shore and upland game birds and develop 2002-03 migratory game bird 
regulations recommendations for these species plus regulations for 
migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 
The Committee will also develop regulations recommendations for special 
September waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck 
seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In 
addition, the Committee will review and discuss preliminary information 
on the status of waterfowl.
    At the July 31 and August 1, 2002, meetings, the Committee will 
review information on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2002-
03 migratory game bird regulations recommendations for regular 
waterfowl seasons and other species and seasons not previously 
discussed at the early-season meetings.
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the individual meetings 
of the four Flyway Councils this July. Although agendas are not yet 
available, these meetings usually commence at 8 a.m. on the days 
    Atlantic Flyway Council: July 22-26, Sheraton Burlington Hotel & 
Conference Center, Burlington, Vermont.
    Mississippi Flyway Council: July 26-30, Marriott Hotel, Baton 
Rouge, Louisiana.
    Central Flyway Council: July 22-26, DoubleTree Hotel/Downtown, 
Omaha, Nebraska.
    Pacific Flyway Council: July 22-26, Lakeside Lodge, Pinedale, 

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking describes Flyway Council recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the March 19, 
2002, Federal Register (67 FR 12501). We have included only those 
recommendations requiring either new proposals or substantial 
modification of the preliminary proposals. This supplement does not 
include recommendations that simply support or oppose preliminary 
proposals and provide no recommended alternatives. We will consider 
these recommendations later in the regulations-development process. We 
will publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we 
develop final frameworks. In addition, this supplemental rulemaking 
contains new information relative to the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2002-03 duck hunting seasons. We have included all 
Flyway Council recommendations received through May 1, 2002, relating 
to the development of these alternatives.
    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 
identified in the March 19, 2002, proposed rule. Only those categories 
requiring your attention or for which we received Flyway Council 
recommendations are discussed below.

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) General Harvest Strategy, (B)

[[Page 40129]]

Regulatory Alternatives, including specification of framework dates, 
season length, and bag limits, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) 
Special Seasons/Species Management.
A. General Harvest Strategy
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that annual changes in regulations should be limited to no more than 
one step up or down among the regulatory alternatives (e.g., from 
liberal to moderate, moderate to restrictive).
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the Adaptive Harvest 
Management (AHM) regulatory alternatives be modified as follows, 
beginning in 2002-03:
    A. Eliminate the very restrictive alternative
    B. Limit increments of year-to-year change to single regulation 
    C. Replace closed seasons for some combinations of population size 
and pond numbers with the restrictive alternative so that seasons could 
be open at similar mallard population levels that were hunted in the 
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended that the Service examine how 
eliminating the closed season and the very restrictive alternative from 
the set of regulatory alternatives may influence optimal regulations 
decisions, considering proposed model revisions. If the results of this 
evaluation are consistent with past analyses conducted by the 
Mississippi Flyway, the Council would support elimination of the very 
restrictive alternative. The Council believes closed seasons should not 
be considered when breeding populations and pond numbers exist at 
levels at which seasons have been offered in the past.
    Service Response: In the March 19 Federal Register, we stated our 
intent to address a number of concerns with the current AHM protocols 
for mallards that had been identified by the AHM Working Group. The 
concerns include: (1) Evidence that all models of mallard population 
dynamics may predict biased annual growth rates; (2) that the method 
for comparing predicted and observed populations sizes could produce 
spurious results; and (3) the need for improved survival and 
reproductive models that more effectively cover the range of possible 
population dynamics and effects of harvest. These concerns have been 
investigated by the AHM Working Group for at least 2 years (see http://
migratorybirds.fws.gov/reports/reports.html for the 2000 and 2001 
Adaptive Management Annual Working Group reports), and we decided that 
remedial measures were necessary in time for the 2002-03 hunting 
season. The AHM Working Group recently (April 2002) completed its 
investigations and provided recommendations to the Service and Flyway 
Councils. The most significant recommendations include: (1) An 
empirical correction factor for the bias (+11% for midcontinent 
mallards and +16% for eastern mallards) in estimated survival and 
reproductive rates; (2) a revision to the procedure for comparing 
predicted and observed population sizes that accounts for variation in 
breeding-population size not explained by the models of population 
dynamics; and (3) continued investigations into methods for better 
predicting annual survival and reproductive rates, and into possible 
sources of bias in the monitoring programs used to estimate these vital 
rates. The last of these recommendations could potentially yield 
additional proposals for modifications to the AHM protocols next year. 
For the 2002-03 season, we are proposing to adopt the first two 
recommendations of the AHM Working Group. As these recommendations have 
important implications for future duck-hunting regulations, we would 
like to provide the Flyway Councils, States, and the public adequate 
opportunity to comment.
    The population models and model-updating procedure used last year 
for midcontinent mallards (i.e., uncorrected for bias) suggested that 
the best prediction model included the hypotheses of additive hunting 
mortality and strongly density-dependent reproduction. Based on this 
evidence, the midcontinent mallard breeding-population size was 
expected to average about 8.0 million over the long-term, assuming that 
the optimal regulatory strategy was followed (last year's population 
size was 8.7 million, which includes the traditional survey area and 
Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin). The frequency of liberal 
regulations was expected to be about 86%, with the remaining seasons 
being either moderate or restrictive . However, after correcting for 
the positive bias in survival and reproductive rates, and after 
appropriate revisions were made to the procedure for comparing 
predicted and observed population sizes, the best predictive model 
includes the hypothesis of weakly density-dependent reproduction, and 
there is no clear indication of whether the additive or compensatory 
mortality hypothesis is favored. Given the correction for bias and 
revised updating procedure, the midcontinent mallard breeding-
population size is expected to average about 7.2 million birds over the 
long-term. Thus, the corresponding regulatory strategy is more 
conservative than that used previously, with the liberal regulatory 
alternative expected in only 52% of all hunting seasons. Moderate, 
restrictive, and very restrictive alternatives would be expected in 
about 26% of all hunting seasons, and closed seasons would be expected 
22% of the time. (Note: Prescriptions for closed seasons in the AHM 
process result from combinations of population size and habitat 
conditions that are insufficient to support one of the available open-
season regulatory alternatives, given the agreed-upon harvest-
management objectives. Except in extreme cases, however, limited 
harvests under these population and habitat conditions would not be 
expected to compromise long-term population viability). Clearly, the 
+11% bias in estimated survival and reproductive rates, if left 
uncorrected, can lead to spurious conclusions regarding population 
dynamics and potentially to overly liberal hunting seasons. Moreover, 
the proposed revisions to the AHM protocol for midcontinent mallards 
lead to an improved predictive capability, with a mean difference 
between predicted and observed population sizes of only about 6% since 
    With respect to eastern mallards, the evidence for a positive bias 
in estimated survival and reproductive rates is not as conclusive as 
that for midcontinent mallards. Therefore, the AHM Working Group has 
recommended that models with and without the bias-corrections be 
maintained in the model set. Currently, the best predictive model 
includes the hypothesis of strongly density-dependent reproduction, 
which is favored over the weakly density-dependent hypothesis by a 
margin of 2 to 1. By consensus, hunting mortality is assumed to be 
additive in eastern mallards. Eastern mallards appear to have 
considerable potential to absorb harvest without adverse impact to the 
long-term health of the population. The AHM Working Group predicts that 
the eastern mallard population could support the liberal regulatory 
alternative in the Atlantic Flyway in most, if not all, years. The 
corresponding population size would be expected to average about 
900,000 over the long term (last year's population size was 1 million).
    Last year in the July 24, 2001, Federal Register (66 FR 38494), we 
stated our intention to review proposed constraints on the use of the 
closed and very

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restrictive regulatory alternatives, and proposed restrictions on the 
magnitude of the annual change in the selected regulatory alternative 
for midcontinent mallards (as recommended above by the Flyway 
Councils). We agreed to consider these recommendations after 
appropriate analyses were conducted by the AHM Working Group, and the 
results of those analyses were communicated to all interested parties. 
Those analyses were completed in April 2002 based on the revised AHM 
protocols for mallards discussed above. Eliminating consideration of 
the closed-season alternative above a midcontinent mallard population 
of 5.5 million (i.e., a record low of 4.5 million in the traditional 
survey area, plus 1 million in the States of Minnesota, Michigan, and 
Wisconsin) is expected to result in a negligible change in mean 
population size. However, such a change probably would reduce the 
frequency of closed seasons in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific 
Flyways from 22% to 10%, with a corresponding increase in the frequency 
of very restrictive seasons from 9% to 25%. Elimination of the very 
restrictive alternative also is expected to have a negligible effect on 
average population size, and the frequency of the restrictive 
alternative likely would increase from 12% to 19%. Restricting the 
magnitude of annual change in regulations to one step also appears to 
have a negligible impact on average population size, but could reduce 
the frequency of liberal regulations from 52% to 32%. About 45% of all 
hunting seasons would be expected to be either restrictive or moderate. 
Incorporation of all three proposed changes would be expected to result 
in a mean population size of 6.9 million; the expected frequency of 
closed, restrictive, moderate, and liberal seasons would be 2%, 47%, 
21%, and 30%, respectively. With respect to eastern mallards, none of 
the proposed changes appeared to have an impact on the expected 
frequency of liberal regulations in the Atlantic Flyway. In light of 
this recent information, we are requesting additional public comment on 
the recommendations to place constraints on closed seasons, to 
eliminate the very restrictive alternative, and to restrict the 
magnitude of permissible regulatory changes between successive years. 
Public comment will be accepted until June 21, 2002, and should be sent 
to the address under the caption ADDRESSES.
B. Regulatory Alternatives
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that regulatory alternatives for duck hunting seasons in the Atlantic 
Flyway for 2002-03 should be the same as those used in 1997-2001, 
except that the liberal and moderate regulatory alternatives should 
have an opening date of the Saturday nearest September 24th and a 
closing date of the last Sunday in January on an experimental basis.
    The Upper-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended that duck season framework dates for 2002-03 be the 
Saturday nearest September 24th and the last Sunday in January in the 
moderate and liberal regulatory alternatives, as noted in the March 
19th Federal Register, provided that if the extended framework dates 
result in a more conservative hunting season, mid-latitude States (all 
States in the Upper Region except Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan) 
would be allowed an additional 7 days in season length.
    The Lower-Region Regulations Committee of the Mississippi Flyway 
Council recommended that the outside framework dates for the regular 
duck season in the moderate and liberal alternatives be the Saturday 
nearest September 24 and the last Sunday in January with no penalty in 
season length, and that this option be available either Statewide or in 
individual zones.
    The Central Flyway Council recommended that the Service adopt the 
proposed 2002-03 regulatory alternatives and species/sex restrictions 
for the Central Flyway, except for the following modifications:
    A. The opening date will be the Saturday closest to September 24th 
in the liberal and moderate AHM regulation alternatives. There will be 
no offset penalties (reduced or restricted bag limits or reduction in 
season length). The framework closing date in the Central Flyway will 
remain the Sunday closest to January 20th.
    B. If the earlier framework dates are selected, the Central Flyway 
Council recommends the Special September Teal Season be allowed 
according to established criteria throughout September without penalty 
(using regular season days).
    The Pacific Flyway Council supports duck season framework 
extensions and evaluation of their impacts to harvest distribution and 
rates as outlined in the Service's March 19, 2002, Federal Register.
    Service Response: The AHM Working Group conducted additional 
analyses concerning the potential effects of extended framework dates 
in the moderate and liberal regulatory alternatives based on the 
revised AHM protocols for midcontinent and eastern mallards described 
above. The AHM Working Group recommends that the Service adopt standard 
Bayesian statistical techniques for addressing the uncertainty 
concerning the changes in mallard harvest rates that might occur as a 
result of framework-date extensions. Essentially, the AHM Working Group 
proposed to use existing information about framework dates to develop 
initial harvest-rate predictions, to make regulatory decisions based on 
those predictions, and then to estimate harvest rates in future hunting 
seasons. Those harvest-rate estimates, in turn, are used to update the 
original predictions. The AHM Working Group has made it clear, however, 
that no formal evaluation of framework-date extensions is possible in 
the absence of a rigorous experimental design, including random 
assignment of experimental controls (i.e., representative areas where 
extensions would not be offered). The AHM Working Group also is not 
optimistic about current capabilities to predict or evaluate the 
effects of framework-date extensions on species other than mallards.
    Previous assessments by the Service (see http://
migratorybirds.fws.gov/reports/reports.html) suggest that harvest rates 
of mallards could increase by 15% and 5% for midcontinent and eastern 
mallards, respectively. Those projections were based on previous 
experience with early opening dates in Iowa and late closing dates in 
Mississippi, and on a survey of States regarding their intention to use 
extended framework dates if offered the option. Because these analyses 
are based on extending the results from only 2 states to all other 
states, we are uncertain about the magnitude of the projected increase 
that will result. Therefore, we propose to explicitly recognize this 
uncertainty in the AHM process. The procedures will include the 
possibility that extensions will result in no increase in mean harvest 
rates. If framework-date extensions were implemented, estimates of 
harvest rate derived from band-recovery data would be used to update 
the effect of framework-date extensions. For the upcoming hunting 
season, however, we must rely on the recent assessment conducted by the 
AHM Working Group. That assessment suggested that nationwide 
implementation of framework-date extensions could result in reduction 
of the frequency of liberal seasons in the Mississippi, Central, and 
Pacific Flyways from 52% to 38%. The frequency of liberal regulations 
in the Atlantic Flyway would not be expected to change because few of 
the States

[[Page 40131]]

harvesting many eastern mallards appear to be interested in framework-
date extensions.
    In the March 19, 2002, Federal Register (67 FR 12501), we 
established a May 1, 2002, comment closing date for the proposed 
regulatory alternatives for the 2002-03 duck hunting seasons. However; 
in light of this new information, we are seeking additional public 
comment on the proposed regulatory alternatives. We will announce final 
regulatory alternatives in early July following the early-season 
regulations meetings in late June. Public comments will be accepted 
until June 21, 2002, and should be sent to the address under the 
caption ADDRESSES.
D. Special Seasons/Species Management
i. September Teal Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommended 
that the geographic boundaries for the September teal season in 
Colorado be amended to include Lake and Chaffee Counties and all lands 
east of I-25.
iv. Canvasbacks
    Since 1994, the Service has followed a canvasback harvest strategy 
such that, if population status and production are sufficient to permit 
a harvest of one canvasback per day nationwide for the entire length of 
the regular duck season, while attaining a spring population objective 
of 500,000 birds, the season on canvasbacks should be opened. 
Otherwise, the season on canvasbacks should be closed nationwide. Last 
spring, the estimate of canvasback abundance was 580,000 birds, and the 
number of ponds in Prairie Canada in May (2.7 million) was 20% below 
the long-term average. The size of the spring population, together with 
natural mortality and below-average expected production due to the 
relatively dry conditions, was insufficient to offset expected 
mortality associated with a canvasback season lasting the entire length 
of the ``liberal'' regulatory alternative and still attain the 
population objective of 500,000 canvasbacks in the spring of 2002.
    Last year, we indicated that, while we continued to support the 
harvest strategy and the model adopted in 1994, despite the reduced 
numbers and below-average production forecast last year, we believed 
there was still some opportunity to allow a limited harvest last fall 
without compromising the population's ability to reach 500,000 
canvasbacks this spring. Thus, we allowed a very restrictive canvasback 
season for 2001-02. In the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, the season 
length was 20 days, in the Central Flyway, 25 days, and in the Pacific 
Flyway, 38 days. Our objective was to provide some hunting opportunity 
while still maintaining the spring population above the 500,000 
objective level.
    We also expressed a willingness to revisit the guidelines outlined 
in the strategy and asked that any proposed changes have broad-based 
support and reflect the interests of all stakeholders. In addition, we 
urged the Flyway Councils to begin internal discussions regarding 
species-specific restrictions in the existing AHM framework. This year, 
we will again consider the size of the spring population and model-
based predictions of production and harvest in development of 
regulations proposals for canvasbacks. However, we indicated in the 
March 19 Federal Register that absent the broad-based support by the 
Flyway Councils to revise the strategy, we intend to follow the 1994 
model-based prescriptions originally developed for canvasbacks.
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommends 
modifying the 1994 Canvasback Harvest Strategy to allow for a limited 
canvasback harvest (season within a season) during years when the 
predicted harvest exceeds the allowable harvest, but can still be 
achieved by a more restrictive package (restrictive or very 
restrictive). The season closure threshold would remain at a predicted 
spring breeding population (BPOP) of 500,000.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommend that the Canvasback Harvest 
Management Strategy be changed so the hunting season closure threshold 
is 400,000. The objectives from the 1994 strategy would be modified as 
    A. The goal for the size of the breeding population should be 
500,000 birds;
    B. The strategy should permit a greater possibility for a sustained 
sport harvest than has occurred recently using threshold population 
sizes, and
    C. The amount of harvest in any 1 year should not result in a 
spring population lower than 400,000, allowing harvest opportunity on 
this prairie nesting species at reasonable levels above and below long-
term population levels.
    The Central Flyway Council recommends the Service revise the 
Canvasback Harvest Strategy adopted in 1994. The Council recommends a 
1-bird bag limit for the entire duck hunting season when the model 
predicted breeding population is 400,000 or higher, and that other 
harvest options be considered when the predicted breeding population is 
less than 400,000. These options include a season within a season, 
aggregate bag with redheads, area closures, or seasonal harvest tag(s).
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommends the Canvasback Harvest 
Strategy be revised to include prescription of a full-length season and 
a 1-bird daily limit when the BPOP is projected to be at or above 
400,000. The Council also supports annotation in the strategy 
clarifying that Alaska will retain fixed frameworks in lieu of annual 
prescriptions. The Council requests the Service expedite evaluation of 
harvest data to assess the effects of short seasons implemented in 
v. Pintails
    We presently utilize an interim strategy to manage the harvest of 
pintails. In the current strategy, the determination of appropriate bag 
limits is based, in part, on the harvest predicted by a set of models 
that were developed from historical data relating harvest to bag limit 
and season length. However, since the interim strategy was implemented 
in 1997, the predicted harvest has consistently been lower than the 
estimated harvest from the U.S. and Canadian Federal harvest surveys. 
In the March 19 Federal Register, we expressed a desire to work with 
the Flyway Councils to review the current method of determining bag 
limits with the intent of making appropriate adjustments to the 
strategy to better reflect the realized harvest of pintails.
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council supports the 
Service's effort to develop new models for predicting harvest that fit 
the data, disconnecting effects of season length and bag limit, and 
incorporating recent harvest estimates from Canada and Alaska. Further, 
they recommend that regulations be based on allocation of harvest with 
a constraint that bag limits be the same in all flyways.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommend that the harvest models in the 
interim pintail harvest strategy be revised to incorporate the most 
recent population and harvest information for these birds.
    The Central Flyway Council recommends that the Service's proposed 
updated regression equations be used to estimate predicted flyway-
specific harvest of northern pintails, as described in the February 
2002 report, ``Performance Evaluation: Interim Strategy for Northern 
Pintail Harvest Management'' and be incorporated into the interim 
harvest strategy for northern pintails.

[[Page 40132]]

    The Pacific Flyway Council endorses the technical amendments to the 
existing interim harvest strategy for Northern Pintails to more 
accurately predict harvests resulting from season frameworks 
established under AHM for mid-continent mallards. The Council also 
recommends open seasons when the predictive model constrains the bag 
limit to less than one bird per day. Further, the Council recommends 
assessment of the effectiveness of the strategy not be based primarily 
on sustaining annual growth in the breeding population of at least 6 

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that Georgia and Lake Seminole in Florida be offered an early Canada 
goose hunting season not to exceed 30 days between September 1-30, with 
a bag limit not to exceed 5 geese daily (10 in possession). They 
further recommended that Connecticut's Special September Canada goose 
season framework be extended from September 25 to September 30.
    The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the 
Mississippi Flyway Council recommend that Minnesota be allowed to 
continue to hold their special September experimental Canada goose 
season (the experimental 1-week extension) in 2002 while the 3-year 
evaluation is being completed.
B. Regular Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations 
Committees of the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the 
framework opening date for all species of geese for the regular goose 
seasons in Michigan and Wisconsin be September 16, 2002. Further, they 
recommended that the opening date for regular goose seasons in all 
States, except Michigan and Wisconsin, be as early as the Saturday 
nearest September 24 (September 21, 2002) if the duck hunting season 
framework dates are extended to the Saturday nearest September 24 
(September 21, 2002).
    The Central Flyway Council recommends that the regular seasons for 
all species of geese in all Central Flyway States be as early as the 
Saturday nearest September 24 (September 21, 2002) if the duck hunting 
season framework dates are extended to that date.

8. Swans

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommends that 
the Ad Hoc Eastern Population Tundra Swan Committee revise the July 
1998 Management Plan for the Eastern Population of Tundra Swans (Hunt 
plan) to allow for additional hunting permits to be issued for this 
population for the fall 2003 hunting season.

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommends 
accepting the 2002 Rocky Mountain population of sandhill cranes harvest 
allocation of 833 birds as proposed by the Pacific Flyway. However, 
during the next revision of the Cooperative Population Management Plan, 
the Council desires a better definition of what factors will be used to 
determine when a survey should be considered unreliable.
    The Pacific Flyway Councils recommended establishing an 
experimental hunt for Rocky Mountain Population sandhill cranes for 
2002-2003, in Unitah County, Utah. The framework for the 30-day season 
would be September 1 to January 31, 2003, with a bag limit not to 
exceed 3 daily and 9 per season. Participants must have a valid permit, 
issued by the appropriate State, in their possession while hunting. 
Numbers of permits, open areas, season dates, protection plans for 
other species, and other provisions of seasons must be consistent with 
the management plan and approved by the Central and Pacific Flyway 

14. Woodcock

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommends 
that the hunting regulations framework dates for American woodcock in 
the Eastern Region be changed back to the pre-1997 dates of October 1 
to January 31.

17. White-Winged and White-Tipped Doves

    Council Recommendations: The Central Flyway Council recommends that 
the hunting area for white-winged doves be expanded from its current 
area in New Mexico and Texas to include the remainder of the Central 
Flyway States that are in the Central Management Unit. The white-winged 
dove season should run concurrently with the mourning dove season with 
an aggregate bag.

Public Comment Invited

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. We intend that adopted final rules be as responsive as 
possible to all concerned interests and, therefore, seek the comments 
and suggestions of the public, other concerned governmental agencies, 
nongovernmental organizations, and other private interests on these 
proposals. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written 
comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed 
regulations to the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.
    Special circumstances involved in the establishment of these 
regulations 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.
    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.
    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

[[Page 40133]]

31341). Copies are available from the address indicated under the 
caption ADDRESSES.
    In a proposed rule published in the April 30, 2001, Federal 
Register (66 FR 21298), we expressed our intent to begin the process of 
developing a new EIS for the migratory bird hunting program.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of the 2002-03 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 

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? (6) 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 
impact 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 million and $1.084 billion at small businesses in 
1998. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the 
Division 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. 

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 control 
number 1018-0015 (expires 10/31/2004). 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 control number 1018-0023 (expires 07/31/2003). The information 
from this survey is used to estimate the magnitude and the geographical 
and temporal distribution of 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 
proposed 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.

Executive Order 13211

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued an Executive Order (E.O. 
13211) on regulations that significantly affect energy supply, 
distribution, and use. E.O. 13211 requires agencies to prepare 
Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. As this 
supplemental proposed rule is not expected to significantly affect 
energy supplies, distribution, or use, this proposed action is not a 
significant energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is 

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 developed in a cooperative process with the States and 
the Flyway Councils. This process allows States to participate

[[Page 40134]]

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.

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 2002-03 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 U.S.C. 712, 
and 16 U.S.C. 742a-j.

    Dated: June 4, 2002.
Paul Hoffman,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 02-14664 Filed 6-10-02; 8:45 am]