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Rule

Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and daily bag and possession limits of mourning, white-winged, and white-tipped doves; band-tailed pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; woodcock; common snipe; sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) waterfowl seasons; migratory game birds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; and some extended falconry seasons. Taking of migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by annual regulations. This rule permits taking of designated species during the 2001-02 season.

DATES:

This rule is effective on September 1, 2001.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Jonathan Andrew, Chief, or Ron W. Kokel, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (703) 358-1714.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations Schedule for 2001

On April 30, 2001, we published in the Federal Register (66 FR 21298) 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 §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. On June 14, 2001, we published in the Federal Register (66 FR 32297) a second document providing supplemental proposals for early- and late-season migratory bird hunting regulations frameworks and the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2001-02 duck hunting season. The June 14 supplement also provided detailed information on the 2001-02 regulatory schedule and announced the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings.

On June 20-21, we held open meetings with the Flyway Council Consultants at which the participants reviewed information on the current status of migratory shore and upland game birds and developed recommendations for the 2001-02 regulations for these species plus regulations for migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, special September waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In addition, we reviewed and discussed preliminary information on the status of waterfowl as it relates to the development and selection of the regulatory packages for the 2001-02 regular waterfowl seasons. On July 24, we published in the Federal Register (66 FR 38494) a third document specifically dealing with the proposed frameworks for early-season regulations and the final regulatory alternatives for the 2001-02 duck hunting season.

On August 1-2, 2001, we held a public meeting in Washington, DC, as announced in the April 30, and June 14 Federal Registers, to review the status of waterfowl. Proposed hunting regulations were discussed for late seasons. On August 21, 2001, we published a fourth document in the Federal Register (66 FR 44010) which contained final frameworks for early migratory bird hunting seasons from which wildlife conservation agency officials from the States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands selected early-season hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits. We published proposed frameworks for the 2001-02 late-season migratory bird hunting regulations on August 28, 2001, in the Federal Register.

The final rule described here is the sixth in the series of proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting regulations and deals specifically with amending subpart K of 50 CFR 20. It sets hunting seasons, hours, areas, and limits for mourning, white-winged, and white-tipped doves; band-tailed pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; woodcock; common snipe; sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) waterfowl seasons; mourning doves in Hawaii; migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; youth waterfowl hunting day; and some extended falconry seasons.

NEPA Consideration

NEPA considerations are covered by the programmatic document, “Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual Regulations Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (FSES 88-14),” filed with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 9, 1988. We published a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register on June 16, 1988 (53 FR 22582). We published our Record of Decision on August 18, 1988 (53 FR 31341). Copies are available from the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

We have considered 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 action is consistent with conservation programs for those species.

Executive Order (E.O.) 12866

This rule was 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.

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 issued a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis) in 1998. The Analysis documented the significant beneficial economic effect on a substantial number of small entities. The primary source of information about hunter expenditures for migratory game bird hunting is the National Hunting and Fishing Survey, which is conducted at 5-year intervals. The Analysis was based on the 1996 National Hunting and Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce's County Business Patterns, from which it was estimated that migratory bird hunters would spend between $429 million and $1.084 billion at small businesses in 1998. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.

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 Start Printed Page 45731this rule establishes hunting seasons, we do not plan to defer the effective date under the exemption contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1).

Paperwork Reduction Act

We examined these regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. We utilize the various recordkeeping and reporting requirements imposed under regulations established in 50 CFR part 20, Subpart K, 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 9/30/2001). This information is used to provide a sampling frame for voluntary national surveys to improve our harvest estimates for all migratory game birds in order to better manage these populations. OMB has also approved the information collection requirements of the Sandhill Crane Harvest Questionnaire and assigned control number 1018-0023 (expires 7/31/2003). 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 rulemaking will not “significantly or uniquely” affect small governments, and will not produce a Federal mandate of $100 million or more in any given year on local or State government or private entities. Therefore, this rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988

The Department, in promulgating this rule, has determined that this rule will not unduly burden the judicial system and 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 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, this rule will allow hunters to exercise otherwise unavailable privileges, and, therefore, reduces 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 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.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, “Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments” (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects.

Energy Effects—E.O. 13211

On May 18, 2001, the President issued 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. While this rule is a significant regulatory action under E.O. 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.

Regulations Promulgation

The rulemaking process for migratory game bird hunting must, by its nature, operate under severe time constraints. However, we intend that the public be given the greatest possible opportunity to comment on the regulations. Thus, when the preliminary proposed rulemaking was published, we established what we believed were the longest periods possible for public comment. In doing this, we recognized that when the comment period closed, time would be of the essence. That is, if there were a delay in the effective date of these regulations after this final rulemaking, the States would have insufficient time to implement their selected season dates and limits and start their seasons in a timely manner.

We therefore find that “good cause” exists, within the terms of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and these regulations will, therefore, take effect immediately upon publication. Accordingly, with each conservation agency having had an opportunity to participate in selecting the hunting seasons desired for its State or Territory on those species of migratory birds for which open seasons are now prescribed, and consideration having been given to all other relevant matters presented, certain sections of title 50, chapter I, subchapter B, part 20, subpart K, are hereby amended as set forth below.

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List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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Dated: August 23, 2001.

Joseph E. Doddridge,

Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

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PART 20—[AMENDED]

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For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 50, chapter I, subchapter B, Part 20, subpart K of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

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1. The authority citation for Part 20 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j, Pub. L. 106-108.

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[FR Doc. 01-21836 Filed 8-28-01; 8:45 am]

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