[Federal Register: May 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 103)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 30711-30722]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[[Page 30711]]


Part IV

Department of the Interior


Fish and Wildlife Service


50 CFR Part 20

Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2008-09 Migratory Game Bird Hunting 
Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal Proposals and 
Requests for 2009 Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest 
Proposals in Alaska; Proposed Rule

[[Page 30712]]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[FWS-R9-MB-2008-0032; 91200-1231-9BPP-L2]
RIN 1018-AV62

Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2008-09 Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal 
Proposals and Requests for 2009 Spring/Summer Migratory Bird 
Subsistence Harvest Proposals in Alaska

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of supplemental information.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter the Service or 
we) proposes to establish annual hunting regulations for certain 
migratory game birds for the 2008-09 hunting season. We annually 
prescribe outside limits (frameworks) within which States may select 
hunting seasons. This proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, 
describes the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2008-09 duck 
hunting seasons, requests proposals from Indian tribes that wish to 
establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on Federal 
Indian reservations and ceded lands, and requests proposals for the 
2009 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska. 
Migratory game bird hunting seasons provide hunting opportunities for 
recreation and sustenance; aid Federal, State, and tribal governments 
in the management of migratory game birds; and permit harvests at 
levels compatible with migratory game bird population status and 
habitat conditions.

DATES: You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory alternatives 
for the 2008-09 duck hunting seasons by June 27, 2008. Following later 
Federal Register documents, you will be given an opportunity to submit 
comments for proposed early-season frameworks by July 31, 2008, and for 
proposed late-season frameworks and subsistence migratory bird seasons 
in Alaska by August 31, 2008. Tribes must submit proposals and related 
comments by June 1, 2008. Proposals from the Co-management Council for 
the 2009 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence harvest season must 
be submitted to the Flyway Councils and the Service by June 15, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: 1018-AV62; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, 
VA 22203.
    We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on 
http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any 
personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section 
below for more information).
    Proposals for the 2009 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence 
season in Alaska should be sent to the Executive Director of the Co-
management Council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, 
Anchorage, AK 99503, or fax to (907) 786-3306 or e-mail to 

Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, MS MBSP-4107-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 
20240, (703) 358-1714. For information on the migratory bird 
subsistence season in Alaska, contact Fred Armstrong, (907) 786-3887, 
or Donna Dewhurst, (907) 786-3499, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 
E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503.


Background and Overview

    Migratory game birds are those bird species so designated in 
conventions between the United States and several foreign nations for 
the protection and management of these birds. Under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), the Secretary of the Interior is 
authorized to determine when ``hunting, taking, capture, killing, 
possession, sale, purchase, shipment, transportation, carriage, or 
export of any * * * bird, or any part, nest, or egg'' of migratory game 
birds can take place, and to adopt regulations for this purpose. These 
regulations are written after giving due regard to ``the zones of 
temperature and to the distribution, abundance, economic value, 
breeding habits, and times and lines of migratory flight of such 
birds'' and are updated annually (16 U.S.C. 704(a)). This 
responsibility has been delegated to the Service as the lead Federal 
agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United 
    The Service develops migratory game bird hunting regulations by 
establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag 
limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting. Acknowledging 
regional differences in hunting conditions, the Service has 
administratively divided the nation into four Flyways for the primary 
purpose of managing migratory game birds. Each Flyway (Atlantic, 
Mississippi, Central, and Pacific) has a Flyway Council, a formal 
organization generally composed of one member from each State and 
Province in that Flyway. The Flyway Councils, established through the 
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), also 
assist in researching and providing migratory game bird management 
information for Federal, State, and Provincial Governments, as well as 
private conservation agencies and the general public.
    The process for adopting migratory game bird hunting regulations, 
located at 50 CFR part 20, is constrained by three primary factors. 
Legal and administrative considerations dictate how long the rulemaking 
process will last. Most importantly, however, the biological cycle of 
migratory game birds controls the timing of data-gathering activities 
and thus the dates on which these results are available for 
consideration and deliberation.
    The process includes two separate regulations-development 
schedules, based on early and late hunting season regulations. Early 
hunting seasons pertain to all migratory game bird species in Alaska, 
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; migratory game birds other 
than waterfowl (i.e., dove, woodcock, etc.); and special early 
waterfowl seasons, such as teal or resident Canada geese. Early hunting 
seasons generally begin prior to October 1. Late hunting seasons 
generally start on or after October 1 and include most waterfowl 
seasons not already established.
    There are basically no differences in the processes for 
establishing either early or late hunting seasons. For each cycle, 
Service biologists gather, analyze, and interpret biological survey 
data and provide this information to all those involved in the process 
through a series of published status reports and presentations to 
Flyway Councils and other interested parties. Because the Service is 
required to take abundance of migratory game birds and other factors 
into consideration, the Service undertakes a number of surveys 
throughout the year in conjunction with Service Regional Offices, the 
Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and

[[Page 30713]]

Provincial wildlife-management agencies. To determine the appropriate 
frameworks for each species, we consider factors such as population 
size and trend, geographical distribution, annual breeding effort, the 
condition of breeding and wintering habitat, the number of hunters, and 
the anticipated harvest.
    After frameworks, or outside limits, are established for season 
lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting, 
migratory game bird management becomes a cooperative effort of State 
and Federal governments. After Service establishment of final 
frameworks for hunting seasons, the States may select season dates, bag 
limits, and other regulatory options for the hunting seasons. States 
may always be more conservative in their selections than the Federal 
frameworks but never more liberal.

Notice of Intent To Establish Open Seasons

    This notice announces our intent to establish open hunting seasons 
and daily bag and possession limits for certain designated groups or 
species of migratory game birds for 2008-09 in the contiguous United 
States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, under 
Sec. Sec.  20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K of 50 
CFR part 20.
    For the 2008-09 migratory game bird hunting season, we will propose 
regulations for certain designated members of the avian families 
Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans); Columbidae (doves and pigeons); 
Gruidae (cranes); Rallidae (rails, coots, moorhens, and gallinules); 
and Scolopacidae (woodcock and snipe). We describe these proposals 
under Proposed 2008-09 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations 
(Preliminary) in this document. We published definitions of waterfowl 
flyways and mourning dove management units, as well as a description of 
the data used in and the factors affecting the regulatory process, in 
the March 14, 1990 Federal Register (55 FR 9618).

Regulatory Schedule for 2008-09

    This document is the first in a series of proposed, supplemental, 
and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. We will publish additional supplemental proposals for 
public comment in the Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, 
and other information become available. Because of the late dates when 
certain portions of these data become available, we anticipate 
abbreviated comment periods on some proposals. Special circumstances 
limit the amount of time we can allow for public comment on these 
    Specifically, two considerations compress the time for the 
rulemaking process: The need, on one hand, to establish final rules 
early enough in the summer to allow resource agencies to select and 
publish season dates and bag limits prior to the beginning of hunting 
seasons and, on the other hand, the lack of current status data on most 
migratory game birds until later in the summer. Because the regulatory 
process is strongly influenced by the times when information is 
available for consideration, we divide the regulatory process into two 
segments: early seasons and late seasons (further described and 
discussed under the Background and Overview section).
    Major steps in the 2008-09 regulatory cycle relating to open public 
meetings and Federal Register notifications are illustrated in the 
diagram at the end of this proposed rule. All publication dates of 
Federal Register documents are target dates.
    All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining hunting 
frameworks and guidelines are organized under numbered headings. These 
headings are:

1. Ducks
    A. General Harvest Strategy
    B. Regulatory Alternatives
    C. Zones and Split Seasons
    D. Special Seasons/Species Management
    i. September Teal Seasons
    ii. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons
    iii. Black ducks
    iv. Canvasbacks
    v. Pintails
    vi. Scaup
    vii. Mottled ducks
    viii. Wood ducks
    ix. Youth Hunt
2. Sea Ducks
3. Mergansers
4. Canada Geese
    A. Special Seasons
    B. Regular Seasons
    C. Special Late Seasons
5. White-fronted Geese
6. Brant
7. Snow and Ross's (Light) Geese
8. Swans
9. Sandhill Cranes
10. Coots
11. Moorhens and Gallinules
12. Rails
13. Snipe
14. Woodcock
15. Band-tailed Pigeons
16. Mourning Doves
17. White-winged and White-tipped Doves
18. Alaska
19. Hawaii
20. Puerto Rico
21. Virgin Islands
22. Falconry
23. Other

    Later sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to 
numbered items requiring your attention. Therefore, it is important to 
note that we will omit those items requiring no attention, and 
remaining numbered items will be discontinuous and appear incomplete.
    We will publish final regulatory alternatives for the 2008-09 duck 
hunting seasons in mid-July. We will publish proposed early season 
frameworks in mid-July and late season frameworks in mid-August. We 
will publish final regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about 
August 17, 2008, and those for late seasons on or about September 14, 

Request for 2009 Spring/Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest 
Proposals in Alaska


    The 1916 Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds between 
the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) established a closed 
season for the taking of migratory birds between March 10 and September 
1. Residents of northern Alaska and Canada traditionally harvested 
migratory birds for nutritional purposes during the spring and summer 
months. The governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States 
recently amended the 1916 Convention and the subsequent 1936 Mexico 
Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals. The 
amended treaties provide for the legal subsistence harvest of migratory 
birds and their eggs in Alaska and Canada during the closed season.
    On August 16, 2002, we published in the Federal Register (67 FR 
53511) a final rule that established procedures for incorporating 
subsistence management into the continental migratory bird management 
program. These regulations, developed under a new co-management process 
involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and 
Alaska Native representatives, established an annual procedure to 
develop harvest guidelines for implementation of a spring/summer 
migratory bird subsistence harvest. Eligibility and inclusion 
requirements necessary to participate in the spring/summer migratory 
bird subsistence season in Alaska are outlined in 50 CFR part 92.
    This proposed rule calls for proposals for regulations that will 
expire on August 31, 2009, for the spring/summer subsistence harvest of 
migratory birds in Alaska. Each year, seasons will open on

[[Page 30714]]

or after March 11 and close prior to September 1.

Alaska Spring/Summer Subsistence Harvest Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of the Alaska spring/summer subsistence 
harvest proposals in later Federal Register documents under 50 CFR part 
92. The general relationship to the process for developing national 
hunting regulations for migratory game birds is as follows:
    (a) Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council.
    Proposals may be submitted by the public to the Co-management 
Council during the period of November 1-December 15, 2008, to be acted 
upon for the 2009 migratory bird subsistence harvest season. Proposals 
should be submitted to the Executive Director of the Co-management 
Council, listed above under the caption ADDRESSES.
    (b) Flyway Councils.
    (1) Proposed 2009 regulations recommended by the Co-management 
Council will be submitted to all Flyway Councils for review and 
comment. The Council's recommendations must be submitted prior to the 
Service Regulations Committee's last regular meeting of the calendar 
year in order to be approved for spring/summer harvest beginning March 
11 of the following calendar year.
    (2) Alaska Native representatives may be appointed by the Co-
management Council to attend meetings of one or more of the four Flyway 
Councils to discuss recommended regulations or other proposed 
management actions.
    (c) Service regulations committee. Proposed annual regulations 
recommended by the Co-management Council will be submitted to the 
Service Regulations Committee (SRC) for their review and recommendation 
to the Service Director. Following the Service Director's review and 
recommendation, the proposals will be forwarded to the Department of 
the Interior for approval. Proposed annual regulations will then be 
published in the Federal Register for public review and comment, 
similar to the annual migratory game bird hunting regulations. Final 
spring/summer regulations for Alaska will be published in the Federal 
Register in the preceding fall.
    Because of the time required for review by us and the public, 
proposals from the Co-management Council for the 2009 spring/summer 
migratory bird subsistence harvest season must be submitted to the 
Flyway Councils and the Service by June 15, 2008, for Council comments 
and Service action at the late-season SRC meeting.

Review of Public Comments

    This proposed rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2007-08 duck hunting seasons. This proposed 
rulemaking also describes other recommended changes or specific 
preliminary proposals that vary from the 2007-08 final frameworks (see 
August 28, 2007 Federal Register (72 FR 49622) for early seasons and 
September 20, 2007 Federal Register (72 FR 53882) for late seasons) and 
issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of the 
States or tribes. We will publish responses to all proposals and 
written comments when we develop final frameworks for the 2008-09 
season. We seek additional information and comments on the 
recommendations in this proposed rule.

Consolidation of Notices

    For administrative purposes, this document consolidates the notice 
of intent to establish open migratory game bird hunting seasons, the 
request for tribal proposals, and the request for Alaska migratory bird 
subsistence seasons with the preliminary proposals for the annual 
hunting regulations-development process. We will publish the remaining 
proposed and final rulemaking documents separately. For inquiries on 
tribal guidelines and proposals, tribes should contact the following 
    Regions 1 and 8 (California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, 
Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands)--Brad Bortner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 911 N.E. 11th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97232-4181; (503) 231-
    Region 2 (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)--Jeff Haskins, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, New Mexico 
87103; (505) 248-7885.
    Region 3 (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, 
Ohio, and Wisconsin)--Jane West, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Federal Building, One Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, Minnesota 55111-
4056; (612) 713-5432.
    Region 4 (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands, South 
Carolina, and Tennessee)--David Viker, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
1875 Century Boulevard, Room 324, Atlanta, Georgia 30345; (404) 679-
    Region 5 (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, 
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, 
Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia)--Diane Pence, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, Massachusetts 
01035-9589; (413) 253-8576.
    Region 6 (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South 
Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming)--James Dubovsky, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Building, Denver, Colorado 
80225; (303) 236-8145.
    Region 7 (Alaska)--Russ Oates, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 
East Tudor Road, Anchorage, Alaska 99503; (907) 786-3423.

Requests for Tribal Proposals


    Beginning with the 1985-86 hunting season, we have employed 
guidelines described in the June 4, 1985, Federal Register (50 FR 
23467) to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on 
Federal Indian reservations (including off-reservation trust lands) and 
ceded lands. We developed these guidelines in response to tribal 
requests for our recognition of their reserved hunting rights, and for 
some tribes, recognition of their authority to regulate hunting by both 
tribal and nontribal members throughout their reservations. The 
guidelines include possibilities for:
    (1) On-reservation hunting by both tribal and nontribal members, 
with hunting by nontribal members on some reservations to take place 
within Federal frameworks, but on dates different from those selected 
by the surrounding State(s);
    (2) On-reservation hunting by tribal members only, outside of usual 
Federal frameworks for season dates and length, and for daily bag and 
possession limits; and
    (3) Off-reservation hunting by tribal members on ceded lands, 
outside of usual framework dates and season length, with some added 
flexibility in daily bag and possession limits.
    In all cases, tribal regulations established under the guidelines 
must be consistent with the annual March 10 to September 1 closed 
season mandated by the 1916 Convention Between the United States and 
Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds 
(Convention). The guidelines are applicable to those tribes that have 
reserved hunting rights on Federal Indian reservations (including off-
reservation trust lands) and ceded lands. They also may be applied to 
the establishment of migratory game bird hunting regulations for 
nontribal members on all lands within the exterior boundaries of 
reservations where tribes have full wildlife management authority over 

[[Page 30715]]

hunting, or where the tribes and affected States otherwise have reached 
agreement over hunting by nontribal members on non-Indian lands.
    Tribes usually have the authority to regulate migratory game bird 
hunting by nonmembers on Indian-owned reservation lands, subject to our 
approval. The question of jurisdiction is more complex on reservations 
that include lands owned by non-Indians, especially when the 
surrounding States have established or intend to establish regulations 
governing migratory bird hunting by non-Indians on these lands. In such 
cases, we encourage the tribes and States to reach agreement on 
regulations that would apply throughout the reservations. When 
appropriate, we will consult with a tribe and State with the aim of 
facilitating an accord. We also will consult jointly with tribal and 
State officials in the affected States where tribes may wish to 
establish special hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded 
lands. It is incumbent upon the tribe and/or the State to request 
consultation as a result of the proposal being published in the Federal 
Register. We will not presume to make a determination, without being 
advised by either a tribe or a State, that any issue is or is not 
worthy of formal consultation.
    One of the guidelines provides for the continuation of tribal 
members' harvest of migratory game birds on reservations where such 
harvest is a customary practice. We do not oppose this harvest, 
provided it does not take place during the closed season required by 
the Convention, and it is not so large as to adversely affect the 
status of the migratory game bird resource. Since the inception of 
these guidelines, we have reached annual agreement with tribes for 
migratory game bird hunting by tribal members on their lands or on 
lands where they have reserved hunting rights. We will continue to 
consult with tribes that wish to reach a mutual agreement on hunting 
regulations for on-reservation hunting by tribal members.
    Tribes should not view the guidelines as inflexible. We believe 
that they provide appropriate opportunity to accommodate the reserved 
hunting rights and management authority of Indian tribes while also 
ensuring that the migratory game bird resource receives necessary 
protection. The conservation of this important international resource 
is paramount. Use of the guidelines is not required if a tribe wishes 
to observe the hunting regulations established by the State(s) in which 
the reservation is located.

Details Needed in Tribal Proposals

    Tribes that wish to use the guidelines to establish special hunting 
regulations for the 2008-09 migratory game bird hunting season should 
submit a proposal that includes: (1) The requested migratory game bird 
hunting season dates and other details regarding the proposed 
    (2) Harvest anticipated under the proposed regulations;
    (3) Methods that will be employed to measure or monitor harvest 
(mail-questionnaire survey, bag checks, etc.);
    (4) Steps that will be taken to limit level of harvest, where it 
could be shown that failure to limit such harvest would seriously 
impact the migratory game bird resource; and
    (5) Tribal capabilities to establish and enforce migratory game 
bird hunting regulations.
    A tribe that desires the earliest possible opening of the migratory 
game bird season for nontribal members should specify this request in 
its proposal, rather than request a date that might not be within the 
final Federal frameworks. Similarly, unless a tribe wishes to set more 
restrictive regulations than Federal regulations will permit for 
nontribal members, the proposal should request the same daily bag and 
possession limits and season length for migratory game birds that 
Federal regulations are likely to permit the States in the Flyway in 
which the reservation is located.

Tribal Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of tribal proposals for public review in 
later Federal Register documents. Because of the time required for 
review by us and the public, Indian tribes that desire special 
migratory game bird hunting regulations for the 2008-09 hunting season 
should submit their proposals as soon as possible, but no later than 
June 1, 2008.
    Tribes should direct inquiries regarding the guidelines and 
proposals to the appropriate Service Regional Office listed above under 
the caption Consolidation of Notices. Tribes that request special 
migratory game bird hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded 
lands should send a courtesy copy of the proposal to officials in the 
affected State(s).

Public Comments Solicited

    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.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not 
accept comments sent by e-mail or fax or to an address not listed in 
the ADDRESSES section. We will not accept anonymous comments; your 
comment must include your first and last name, city, State, country, 
and postal (zip) code. Finally, we will not consider hand-delivered 
comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are not 
postmarked, by the date specified in the DATES section.
    We will post your entire comment--including your personal 
identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. If you provide 
personal identifying information in addition to the required items 
specified in the previous paragraph, such as your street address, phone 
number, or e-mail address, you may request at the top of your document 
that we withhold this information from public review. However, we 
cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Room 4107, 
4501 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203.
    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 in any final rules.

NEPA Consideration

    NEPA considerations are covered by the programmatic document 
``Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual 
Regulations Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (FSES 88-
14),'' filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 9, 1988. 
We published Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on June 16, 
1988 (53 FR 22582). We published our Record of

[[Page 30716]]

Decision on August 18, 1988 (53 FR 31341). In addition, an August 1985 
environmental assessment entitled ``Guidelines for Migratory Bird 
Hunting Regulations on Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands'' is 
available from the address indicated under the caption FOR FURTHER 
    In a notice published in the September 8, 2005, Federal Register 
(70 FR 53376), we announced our intent to develop a new Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement for the migratory bird hunting program. 
Public scoping meetings were held in the spring of 2006, as detailed in 
a March 9, 2006, Federal Register (71 FR 12216). We have prepared a 
scoping report summarizing the scoping comments and scoping meetings. 
The report is available by either writing to the address indicated 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or by viewing on our Web site at 

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Prior to issuance of the 2008-09 migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will comply with 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 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 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget has determined that this rule 
is significant and has reviewed this rule under Executive Order 12866. 
OMB bases its determination upon the following four criteria:
    (a) Whether the rule will have an annual effect of $100 million or 
more on the economy or adversely affect an economic sector, 
productivity, jobs, the environment, or other units of the government.
    (b) Whether the rule will create inconsistencies with other Federal 
agencies' actions.
    (c) Whether the rule will materially affect entitlements, grants, 
user fees, loan programs, or the rights and obligations of their 
    (d) Whether the rule raises novel legal or policy issues.

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The regulations have a significant economic impact on substantial 
numbers of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 
U.S.C. 601 et seq.). We analyzed the economic impacts of the annual 
hunting regulations on small business entities in detail as part of the 
1981 cost-benefit analysis discussed under Executive Order 12866. This 
analysis was revised annually from 1990-95. In 1995, the Service issued 
a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), which was subsequently 
updated in 1996, 1998, and 2004. The primary source of information 
about hunter expenditures for migratory game bird hunting is the 
National Hunting and Fishing Survey, which is conducted at 5-year 
intervals. The 2004 Analysis was based on the 2001 National Hunting and 
Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce's County Business 
Patterns, from which it was estimated that migratory bird hunters would 
spend between $481 million and $1.2 billion at small businesses in 
2004. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the 
address indicated under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or from our Web 
site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/reports/SpecialTopics/
    Last year, due to limited data availability, we partially updated 
the 2004 analysis, but restricted our analysis to duck hunting. Results 
indicate that the duck hunters would spend between $291 million and 
$473.5 million at small businesses in 2007. We plan to perform a full 
update of the analysis this year when the full results from the 2006 
National Hunting and Fishing Survey is available. Copies of the updated 
analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under 
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or from our Web site at http://

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 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). 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 our Migratory Bird Surveys and assigned 
control number 1018-0023 (expires 2/28/2011). 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 Alaska Subsistence Household Survey, an 
associated voluntary annual household survey used to determine levels 
of subsistence take in Alaska, and assigned control number 1018-0124 
(expires 1/31/2010).
    A Federal agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not 
required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certify, in compliance with the requirements 
of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this 
rulemaking will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given 
year on local or State government or private entities. Therefore, this 
rule is not a ``significant

[[Page 30717]]

regulatory action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that this proposed rule will not unduly burden the judicial system and 
that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of 
Executive Order 12988.

Takings Implication Assessment

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, this 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.

Energy Effects--Executive Order 13211

    On May 18, 2001, the President issued Executive Order 13211 on 
regulations that significantly affect energy supply, distribution, and 
use. Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of 
Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. While this proposed 
rule is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, it 
is not expected to adversely affect energy supplies, distribution, or 
use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action and no 
Statement of Energy Effects is required.

Federalism Effects

    Due to the migratory nature of certain species of birds, the 
Federal Government has been given responsibility over these species by 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We annually prescribe frameworks from 
which the States make selections regarding the hunting of migratory 
birds, and we employ guidelines to establish special regulations on 
Federal Indian reservations and ceded lands. This process preserves the 
ability of the States and tribes to determine which seasons meet their 
individual needs. Any State or Indian tribe may be more restrictive 
than the Federal frameworks at any time. The frameworks are developed 
in a cooperative process with the States and the Flyway Councils. This 
process allows States to participate in the development of frameworks 
from which they will make selections, thereby having an influence on 
their own regulations. These rules do not have a substantial direct 
effect on fiscal capacity, change the roles or responsibilities of 
Federal or State governments, or intrude on State policy or 
administration. Therefore, in accordance with Executive Order 13132, 
these regulations do not have significant federalism effects and do not 
have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
Federalism Assessment.

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 2008-09 
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: April 4, 2008.
Lyle Laverty,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

Proposed 2008-09 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary)

    Pending current information on populations, harvest, and habitat 
conditions, and receipt of recommendations from the four Flyway 
Councils, we may defer specific regulatory proposals. At this time, we 
are proposing no changes from the final 2007-08 frameworks established 
on August 28 and September 20, 2007 (72 FR 49622 and 72 FR 53882). 
Other issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of 
the States or tribes are contained below:

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) General Harvest Strategy, (B) Regulatory 
Alternatives, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special Seasons/
Species Management. Only those containing substantial recommendations 
are discussed below.
A. General Harvest Strategy
    We propose to continue use of adaptive harvest management (AHM) to 
help determine appropriate duck-hunting regulations for the 2008-09 
season. AHM is a tool that permits sound resource decisions in the face 
of uncertain regulatory impacts, as well as providing a mechanism for 
reducing that uncertainty over time. The current AHM protocol is used 
to evaluate four alternative regulatory levels based on the population 
status of mallards (special hunting restrictions are enacted for 
species of special concern, such as canvasbacks, scaup, and pintails).
    In recent years, the prescribed regulatory alternative for the 
Pacific, Central, and Mississippi Flyways has been based on the status 
of mallards and breeding-habitat conditions in central North America 
(Federal survey strata 1-18, 20-50, and 75-77, and State surveys in 
Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan). For the 2008 hunting season, 
however, we are considering setting hunting regulations in the Pacific 
Flyway based on the status and dynamics of a newly defined stock of 
``western'' mallards. For now, western mallards would be defined as 
those breeding in Alaska (as based on federal surveys in strata 1-12), 
and in California and Oregon (as based on state-conducted surveys). 
Efforts to improve survey designs in Washington State and British 
Columbia are ongoing, and mallards breeding in these areas would be 
included in regulatory assessments when a sufficient time-series of 
abundance estimates is available for analysis. Predicting changes in 
the abundance of western mallards due to harvest and uncontrolled 
environmental factors would be based on a model of density-dependent 
growth, with appropriate allowances for model uncertainty and the 
impact of hunting. Various harvest-management objective(s) for western 
mallards are being considered but, in any case, would not allow for a 
harvest higher than the estimated maximum sustainable yield. More 
specifics concerning this proposed change in AHM protocol are available 
on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/mgmt/AHM/AHM-
intro.htm and will be provided in a supplemental proposed rule in May 
along with Flyway Council recommendations and comments. The final AHM 
protocol for the 2008-09 season will be detailed in the early-season 
proposed rule, which will be published in mid-July (see Schedule of 
Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications at the end of 
this proposed rule for further information). Finally, since 2000, we 
have prescribed a regulatory alternative for the Atlantic Flyway based 
on the population status of mallards breeding in eastern North America 
(Federal survey strata 51-54 and 56, and State surveys in New England 
and the mid-Atlantic region). We are recommending a continuation of 
this protocol for the 2008-09 season.
    We will propose a specific regulatory alternative for each of the 
Flyways during the 2008-09 season after survey information becomes 
available in late summer. More information on AHM is located at http://

[[Page 30718]]

B. Regulatory Alternatives
    The basic structure of the current regulatory alternatives for AHM 
was adopted in 1997. The alternatives remained largely unchanged until 
2002, when we (based on recommendations from the Flyway Councils) 
extended framework dates in the ``moderate'' and ``liberal'' regulatory 
alternatives by changing the opening date from the Saturday nearest 
October 1 to the Saturday nearest September 24, and changing the 
closing date from the Sunday nearest January 20 to the last Sunday in 
January. These extended dates were made available with no associated 
penalty in season length or bag limits. At that time we stated our 
desire to keep these changes in place for 3 years to allow for a 
reasonable opportunity to monitor the impacts of framework-date 
extensions on harvest distribution and rates of harvest prior to 
considering any subsequent use (67 FR 12501).
    For 2008-09, we are proposing to maintain the same regulatory 
alternatives that were in effect last year (see accompanying table for 
specifics of the proposed regulatory alternatives). Alternatives are 
specified for each Flyway and are designated as ``RES'' for the 
restrictive, ``MOD'' for the moderate, and ``LIB'' for the liberal 
alternative. We will announce final regulatory alternatives in mid-
July. Public comments will be accepted until June 27, 2008, and should 
be sent to an address listed under the caption ADDRESSES.
D. Special Seasons/Species Management
iii. Black Ducks
    In 2007, we developed a proposal for an international harvest 
strategy that consisted of a constant harvest rate and criteria for 
maintaining approximate parity in harvest between the United States and 
Canada. However, during consultations with the Atlantic and Mississippi 
Flyway Councils, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and provincial wildlife 
agencies in eastern Canada, we were unable to reach consensus on 
several technical and policy aspects of that strategy. In February 
2008, a meeting of representatives from the Service, the Canadian 
Wildlife Service, and the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways was 
convened, with the goal of reaching consensus on the essential elements 
of an international harvest strategy that could be implemented in 2008. 
That group recommended that a prescriptive, interim strategy be used 
until development of a derived, adaptive harvest strategy is completed. 
The prescriptive strategy would be based on the current breeding 
population status in relation to its long-term average. The group also 
agreed on the elements of maintaining harvest parity between the two 
countries. Based on the outcome of this meeting, we plan to propose the 
specifics of an interim joint harvest strategy with Canada in the 
supplemental proposed rule, which will be published in May (see 
Schedule of Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications at 
the end of this proposed rule for further information).
iv. Canvasbacks
    Since 1994, we have followed a canvasback harvest strategy that if 
canvasback 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 still attaining a projected spring 
population objective of 500,000 birds, the season on canvasbacks should 
be opened. A partial season would be permitted if the estimated 
allowable harvest was within the projected harvest for a shortened 
season. If neither of these conditions can be met, the harvest strategy 
calls for a closed season on canvasbacks nationwide.
    Last year's spring survey resulted in a record high estimate of 
865,000 canvasbacks. This was 25 percent above the 2006 estimate of 
691,000 canvasbacks and 53 percent above the 1955-2006 average. The 
estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 5.04 million, which was 13 
percent above last year and 49 percent above the long-term average. The 
size of the spring population, together with above-average expected 
production due to the good habitat conditions, resulted in an allowable 
harvest in the United States of 467,900 birds for the 2007-08 season. 
The expected canvasback harvest with a 1-bird daily bag limit for the 
entire season was expected to be about 120,000 birds. Available data 
indicated that adding a second canvasback to the daily bag limit was 
expected to increase harvest about 25 percent, or to approximately 
150,000 birds in the United States. Thus, while the current harvest 
strategy has no provisions for daily bag limits greater than one bird, 
with the record high breeding population and the expected good 
recruitment, we supported the Flyway Councils' recommendations to 
increase the daily bag limit for canvasbacks to two birds for the 2007-
08 season (see September 20, 2007, Federal Register 72 FR 53882).
    While doing so, we expressed our continued support for the current 
canvasback harvest strategy and the model adopted in 1994. However, we 
recognized that this strategy was developed primarily due to concerns 
about low population levels, and as such, did not address circumstances 
encountered like last year of record high abundance and the potential 
for increased daily bag limits. We increased the daily bag limit 
because we believed there was reasonable opportunity to allow a limited 
increase without compromising the population's ability to sustain a 
breeding population in excess of 500,000 canvasbacks this spring.
    We noted, however, that departures from existing harvest strategies 
are not actions that we generally condone, nor would we make an 
exception to the canvasback strategy this year, even if similar 
circumstances exist, without an explicit modification to the existing 
strategy allowing for daily bag limits greater than one bird. We stated 
our desire to discuss the possibility of revising the strategy with the 
Flyway Councils and other interested parties over the next year. 
Because the population model has performed relatively well since 
inception in 1994, we further stated that we believe that the most 
productive area for discussion involves examination of the harvest 
management objectives of this strategy, with an emphasis on allowing 
bag limits greater than one bird. Such a revision should carefully 
consider the potential ramifications of such changes on the expected 
frequency of closed and partial seasons for this species in the future.
    This winter we prepared and distributed to the Flyway Councils an 
assessment of potential changes to the frequency of various canvasback 
seasons due to introducing a liberal, 2-bird daily bag season in the 
Canvasback Harvest Strategy (the assessment is available at http://
www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/reports/reports.html). The assessment 
estimates the likely changes in proportion of closed and restricted 
seasons that might result if a 2-bird daily bag limit were permanently 
included in the Canvasback Harvest Strategy. To further the development 
of this assessment and any subsequent proposed changes to the harvest 
strategy, we have requested Flyway Council feedback on several 
important policy issues. These issues include: the desire to modify the 
current strategy, potential canvasback population thresholds that allow 
a 2-bird daily bag limit, and any further strategy

[[Page 30719]]

modifications to account for density-dependence. Progress on the 
canvasback harvest strategy will be detailed in supplemental Federal 
Registers and a decision regarding whether to propose changes to the 
current harvest strategy for the 2008-09 season will be made in early 
June (see Schedule of Regulations Meetings and Federal Register 
Publications at the end of this proposed rule for further information).
v. Pintails
    As we have stated over the past several years, we remain committed 
to the development of a framework to inform pintail harvest management 
based a formal, derived strategy and clearly articulated management 
objectives. In collaboration with scientists from the U.S. Geological 
Survey, we developed a fully adaptive harvest management protocol for 
pintails and forwarded the technical details (http://www.fws.gov/
migratorybirds/reports/reports.html) to the Flyway Councils for their 
review. We also requested Flyway Council input on a possible 
implementation schedule and any modifications or adjustments they feel 
would improve the existing strategy. Following Flyway Council and 
public review, we will announce any proposed changes regarding the 
existing strategy for the 2008-09 season in May (see Schedule of 
Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications at the end of 
this proposed rule for further information).
vi. Scaup
    The continental scaup (greater Aythya marila and lesser Aythya 
affinis combined) population has experienced a long-term decline over 
the past 20 years. Over the past several years in particular, we have 
continued to express our growing concern about the status of scaup. The 
2007 breeding population estimate for scaup was 3.45 million, 
essentially unchanged from the 2006 estimate, and the third lowest 
estimate on record.
    Last year, we developed an assessment framework that uses available 
data to help predict the effects of harvest and other uncontrollable 
environmental factors on the scaup population. After extensive review 
that we believe resulted in substantial improvements, the final 
technical assessment was made available for public review in the April 
11, 2007 Federal Register (72 FR 18328). We stated then, and continue 
to believe, that this technical assessment represents an objective and 
comprehensive synthesis of data relevant to scaup harvest management 
and can help frame a scientifically-sound scaup harvest strategy. We 
note that results of the assessment suggest that a reduction in scaup 
harvest is commensurate with the current population status of scaup. 
Based on this technical assessment, a proposed scaup harvest strategy 
was made available for public review in the June 8, 2007 Federal 
Register (72 FR 31789). The proposed harvest strategy included initial 
Service recommendations on a harvest management objective and proposed 
Flyway-specific harvest allocations, as well as an additional analysis 
that predicted scaup harvest from various combinations of Flyway-
specific season lengths and bag limits (http://www.fws.gov/
migratorybirds/reports/reports.html). However, several Flyway Councils 
expressed concern regarding the implications of regulatory changes 
associated with the proposed decision making framework.
    In the July 23, 2007 Federal Register (72 FR 40194), we addressed 
these concerns and stated that while we continue to support the 
technical assessment of scaup harvest potential, we were sensitive to 
the concerns expressed by the Flyway Councils about the policy and 
social aspects of implementation of the proposed strategy at that time. 
More specifically, we agreed that more dialogue about the nature of 
harvest management objectives and regulatory alternatives was necessary 
for successful implementation of the strategy. Failure to agree on 
crucial policy aspects of the proposed strategy in a timely fashion 
increases the risk that more drastic regulatory measures may be 
necessary in the future, and having considered all of these concerns, 
we agreed that another year was needed to develop consensus on a 
harvest strategy for scaup. We further stated that it was our intent to 
implement a strategy in 2008 and we requested that the Flyways continue 
to work with us to resolve the outstanding technical and policy issues 
surrounding the proposed scaup assessment and decision making 
    In response to this expectation, we participated in a number of 
meetings to foster continued communication and coordination and hosted 
a Web broadcast to communicate assessment results to a broad State 
audience. In addition, we proposed a methodology to assist the Flyways 
in developing regulatory packages that would specify scaup regulatory 
    One of the outcomes of our communication efforts with the Flyways 
was an agreement to consider an alternative model that represents the 
belief that the scaup population will continue to decline to a new 
equilibrium level and that harvest has no effect on the decline. The 
results from the alternative model along with the existing model would 
then be compared and weighted through an adaptive process while forming 
a basis for the derivation of an optimal harvest strategy. We have 
begun scoping out the technical and policy issues associated with 
incorporating such an alternative; however it cannot be completed in 
time for this regulatory cycle. Additional technical work is necessary 
and policy guidance will be required throughout model development since 
the alternative model will require specification of the lower 
equilibrium state. It is not possible to estimate this lower 
equilibrium population size using available data; therefore it will 
have to be chosen based on professional judgment and social 
considerations. It is not known if an alternative model will be ready 
for incorporation by next year because the harvest management 
implications of developing an adaptive decision process that 
accommodates ongoing system change are largely unexplored and will 
likely require a significant amount of effort to evaluate.
    Therefore, for 2008, we are soliciting Flyway Council feedback 
regarding the following alternative approaches to developing and 
implementing a scaup harvest strategy: (1) Delay implementation of any 
strategy and continue to work on the alternative model; (2) Implement 
the 2007 proposed strategy and continue to work on the alternative 
model until completed when it will then be incorporated into the 
decision making framework; (3) Discontinue work on an alternative model 
and implement the strategy proposed last year.
    In addition, we are also seeking feedback from the Flyway Councils 
regarding several policy issues. These include the form of the 
objective function that will be used to derive a scaup harvest policy, 
the appropriate Flyway-specific harvest models that will be used in 
part to determine Flyway specific regulatory alternatives, and feedback 
regarding the proposed methodology to specify the threshold harvest 
levels associated with each package (Restrictive, Moderate, and 
Liberal). Progress on the scaup harvest strategy will be detailed in 
supplemental Federal Registers and a final decision regarding any 
implementation of the proposed strategy will be made in the July early-
season proposed rule (see Schedule of Regulations Meetings and Federal 
Register Publications at the end of this proposed rule for further 

[[Page 30720]]

vii. Mottled Ducks
    The Service and other agencies have been concerned about the status 
of mottled ducks since at least the late 1990s. This concern stems from 
negative trends in population survey data, loss and degradation of 
habitat, interbreeding with captive-reared and feral mallards, and 
increased harvest rates as the result of longer hunting seasons since 
1997. In the past, we have expressed our desire to work with the States 
to develop a harvest-management strategy for mottled ducks. Since 2005, 
several workshops have been convened with State agencies, the U.S. 
Geological Survey, and others to discuss the status of mottled ducks, 
population structure and delineation, and to evaluate current 
monitoring programs and plan for the development of new population 
surveys. Major conclusions from these workshops are that mottled ducks 
should be managed as two separate stocks, a Florida stock and a Western 
Gulf Coast stock, and that the lack of a range-wide population survey 
for Western Gulf Coast mottled ducks is a significant impediment to 
    Although progress has been made toward development of monitoring 
systems to improve assessment capabilities for mottled ducks, we remain 
concerned about the status of mottled ducks across their range, 
especially in the Western Gulf Coast. Reasons for these concerns were 
mentioned previously. We provided the Flyway Councils with analyses of 
harvest data that examine potential harvest restrictions to reduce 
harvest rates (http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/reports/reports.html), 
should that be deemed necessary. We encourage the Flyway Councils to 
examine the status of mottled ducks and assess the potential need for 
any regulatory actions for the 2008-09 season.
viii. Wood Ducks
    Over the past year, significant technical progress has been made in 
estimating the harvest potential of wood ducks in the Atlantic and 
Mississippi Flyways. This winter, we prepared and received initial 
Flyway feedback on a scoping document describing how our assessment of 
the harvest potential could fit within an overall harvest strategy for 
wood ducks (see http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/reports/
reports.html). To further the development of this assessment and 
subsequent harvest strategy, we have requested Flyway Council feedback 
on several important policy issues. These issues include: The decision 
criteria for a harvest strategy (e.g., manage for the stock with the 
lowest harvest potential or for a range-wide average), a harvest 
objective, test criteria to compare harvest rates, and the extent to 
which regulations should be allowed to differ among Flyways. While we 
have not yet finalized a harvest strategy proposal, we plan to evaluate 
feedback from the winter Flyway meetings and make a later determination 
as to whether it would be feasible to consider implementation of a wood 
duck harvest strategy for the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways during 
the 2008-09 cycle. Progress on the wood duck harvest strategy will be 
detailed in supplemental Federal Registers and a decision regarding 
whether to propose a harvest strategy for the 2008-09 season will be 
made in early June (see Schedule of Regulations Meetings and Federal 
Register Publications at the end of this proposed rule for further 

14. Woodcock

    In 2006, the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Councils urged the 
Service to re-affirm its commitment to cooperatively develop a woodcock 
harvest strategy, with an initial approach outlined no later than the 
2008 winter Flyway meetings. In 2007, we embarked on a review of 
available woodcock population databases that potentially could be 
incorporated in an assessment framework and eventual harvest strategy. 
Results of this review were included in a scoping document and provided 
to Flyway Councils for comment. The scoping document also included 
potential approaches as to how available databases could be utilized in 
a harvest strategy. We recently requested that the Atlantic, 
Mississippi, and Central Flyway Councils appoint appropriate technical 
representatives to work with us on a task group to develop a woodcock 
harvest strategy. It is anticipated that a draft harvest strategy would 
be available for consideration for the 2009-2010 hunting season.

[[Page 30721]]


[[Page 30722]]


 [FR Doc. E8-11583 Filed 5-27-08; 8:45 am]