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Rule

Migratory Bird Hunting; Late Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds

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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 for general waterfowl seasons and those early seasons for which States previously deferred selection. Taking of migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by annual regulations. This rule permits the taking of designated species during the 2007-08 season.

DATES:

This rule is effective on September 22, 2007.

ADDRESSES:

You may inspect comments received on the migratory bird hunting regulations during normal business hours at the Service's office in room 4107, Arlington Square Building, 4501 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Virginia. You may obtain copies of referenced reports from the address above or from the Division of Migratory Bird Management's Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds/​reports/​reports.html.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Robert Blohm, 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 2007

On April 11, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 18328) 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, proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2007-08 duck hunting season, and other regulations for hunting migratory game birds under §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. Major steps in the 2007-08 regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications were also identified in the April 11 proposed rule.

On June 8, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 31789) a second document providing supplemental proposals for early- and late-season migratory bird hunting regulations and the regulatory alternatives for the 2007-08 duck hunting season. The June 8 supplement also provided detailed information on the 2007-08 regulatory schedule and announced the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings.

On June 20 and 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 2007-08 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 2007-08 regular waterfowl seasons. On July 23, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 40194) a third document specifically dealing with the proposed frameworks for early-season regulations. In the August 28, 2007, Federal Register (72 FR 49622), we published final frameworks for early migratory bird hunting seasons from which wildlife conservation agency officials from the States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands selected 2007-08 early-season hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits. On August 30, 2007, we published a final rule in the Federal Register (72 FR 50164) amending subpart K of title 50 CFR part 20 to set hunting seasons, hours, areas, and limits for early seasons.

On August 1-2, 2007, we held open meetings with the Flyway Council Consultants, at which the participants reviewed the status of waterfowl and developed recommendations for the 2007-08 regulations for these species. On August 31, 2007, we published in the Federal Register (72 FR 50613) the proposed frameworks for the 2007-08 late-season migratory bird hunting regulations. We published final late-season frameworks for migratory game bird hunting regulations, from which State wildlife conservation agency officials selected late-season hunting dates, hours, areas, and limits for 2007-08, in a September 2007, Federal Register.

The final rule described here is the final in the series of proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting regulations for 2007-08 and deals specifically with amending subpart K of 50 CFR part 20. It sets hunting seasons, hours, areas, and limits for species subject to late-season regulations and those for early seasons that States previously deferred.

National Environmental Policy Act (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). Annual NEPA considerations are covered under a separate Environmental Assessment (EA), “Duck Hunting Regulations for 2007-08,” and an August 27, 2007, Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). Copies of the EA and FONSI are available upon request from the address indicated under ADDRESSES.

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 we announced in a March 9, 2006, Federal Register notice (71 FR 12216). A scoping report summarizing the scoping comments and scoping meetings is available either at the address indicated under ADDRESSES or on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; 87 Stat. 884), provides that, “The Secretary shall review other programs administered by him and utilize such programs in furtherance of the purposes of this Act” (and) shall “insure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out * * * is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of [critical] habitat * * *.” Consequently, we conducted formal consultations to ensure that actions resulting from these regulations would not likely jeopardize the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitat. Findings from these consultations are included in a biological opinion, which concluded Start Printed Page 54159that the regulations are not likely to adversely affect any endangered or threatened species. Additionally, these findings may have caused modification of some regulatory measures previously proposed, and the final frameworks reflect any such modifications. Our biological opinions resulting from this section 7 consultation are public documents available for public inspection at the address indicated under ADDRESSES.

Executive Order 12866

The migratory bird hunting regulations are economically significant and were reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866. As such, a cost/benefit analysis was initially prepared in 1981. This analysis was subsequently revised annually from 1990-96, updated in 1998, and updated again in 2004. It is further discussed below under the heading Regulatory Flexibility Act. Results from the 2004 analysis indicate that the expected welfare benefit of the annual migratory bird hunting frameworks is on the order of $734 million to $1.064 billion, with a mid-point estimate of $899 million. Copies of the cost/benefit analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds/​reports/​SpecialTopics/​EconomicAnalysis-Final-2004.pdf.

This year, due to limited data availability, we partially updated the 2004 analysis, but restricted our analysis to duck hunting. Results indicate that the total consumer surplus of the annual duck hunting frameworks is on the order of $222 to $360 million, with a mid-point estimate of $291 million. We plan to perform a full update of the analysis in 2008. Copies of the updated analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds/​reports/​SpecialTopics/​EconomicAnalysis-2007Update.pdf.

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 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 ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds/​reports/​SpecialTopics/​EconomicAnalysis-Final-2004.pdf.

This 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 in 2008, when the full results from the 2006 National Hunting and Fishing Survey are available. Copies of the updated analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/​migratorybirds/​reports/​SpecialTopics/​EconomicAnalysis-2007Update.pdf.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

This rule is a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. For the reasons outlined above, this rule has an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. However, because this rule establishes hunting seasons, we do not plan to defer the effective date under the exemption contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1).

Paperwork Reduction Act

We examined these regulations under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA). There are no new information collections in this rule that would require OMB approval under the PRA. The existing 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 surveys associated with the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program and assigned clearance number 1018-0015 (expires 2/29/2008). 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

Due to the migratory nature of certain species of birds, the Federal Government has been given Start Printed Page 54160responsibility over these species by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Thus, in accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, “Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments” (59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175, and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects on Indian trust resources. However, in the April 11 proposed rule we solicited proposals for special migratory bird hunting regulations for certain Tribes on Federal Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 2007-08 migratory bird hunting season. The resulting proposals were contained in a separate rulemaking. By virtue of these actions, we have consulted with all the Tribes affected by this rule.

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.

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. Thus, when the preliminary proposed rulemaking was published, we established what we believed were the longest periods possible for public comment. In ensuring the maximum opportunity for public involvement in the annual process, we recognize that it limits the amount of lead time for final establishment of these seasons. That is, if there were a delay in the effective date of the State selections of season dates and limits, the opening of these seasons and the opportunity for the public to hunt migratory birds would be delayed. 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 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: September 14, 2007.

David M. Verhey,

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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BILLING CODE 4310-55-P

[FR Doc. 07-4660 Filed 9-20-07; 8:45 am]

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