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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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Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.


Final rule.


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 2009-10 season.


This rule is effective on September 26, 2009.


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 street address above, or from the Division of Migratory Bird Management's Web site at​migratorybirds/​, or at

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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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Regulations Schedule for 2009

On April 10, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 16339) 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 hunting migratory game birds under §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. Major steps in the 2009-10 regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications were also identified in the April 10 proposed rule. Further, we explained that all sections of subsequent documents outlining hunting frameworks and guidelines were organized under numbered headings. Subsequent documents will refer only to numbered items requiring 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.

On May 27, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 25209) a second document providing supplemental proposals for early- and late-season migratory bird hunting regulations. The May 27 supplement also provided detailed information on the 2009-10 regulatory schedule and announced the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings.

On June 24 and 25, 2009, 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 2009-10 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 2009-10 regular waterfowl seasons. On July 24, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 36870) a third document specifically dealing with the proposed frameworks for early-season regulations. On August 25, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 43008) a rulemaking establishing final frameworks for early-season migratory bird hunting regulations for the 2009-10 season. Subsequently, on August 31, 2009, we published a final rule in the Federal Register (74 FR 45032) amending subpart K of title 50 CFR part 20 to set hunting seasons, hours, areas, and limits for early seasons.

On July 29-30, 2009, we held open meetings with the Flyway Council Consultants, at which the participants reviewed the status of waterfowl and developed recommendations for the 2009-10 regulations for these species. On August 13, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 41008) the proposed frameworks for the 2009-10 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 2009-10, in a late September 2009 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 2009-10 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). In addition, an August 1985 environmental assessment entitled “Guidelines for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands” is available by writing to the street address indicated under the caption 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 detailed in a March 9, 2006 Federal Register (71 FR 12216). A scoping report summarizing the scoping comments and scoping meetings is available by either writing to the street address indicated under ADDRESSES or by viewing our Web site at​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 consultations to ensure that actions resulting from these regulations would not likely jeopardize the continued Start Printed Page 49245existence of endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitat. Findings from these consultations are included in the Section 7 Consultation on the Proposed 2009-10 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (dated August 24, 2009). The consultation concluded that the 2009-10 regulations are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of either the whooping crane or Steller's eider. To prevent take of whooping cranes, the Contingency Plan for Federal-State Cooperative Protection of whooping cranes provides a protective program in 13 States. In addition, the State of Kansas will implement specific restrictions to avoid accidental shootings. To prevent take of Steller's eiders, the 2009-10 regulations include the continued implementation of measures initiated and outlined under the 2009 Alaska migratory bird subsistence regulations. These measures include Service initiated conservation measures that increase migratory bird hunter outreach prior to the opening of the hunting season, increased Service enforcement of migratory bird regulations, and conducting in-season harvest verification of Steller's eider mortality and injury. Additionally, any modifications resulting from this consultation may have caused modification of some regulatory measures previously proposed. The final frameworks reflect any modifications. Our biological opinions resulting from this section 7 consultation are public documents available for public inspection in the Service's Division of Endangered Species and Division of Migratory Bird Management, at the street address indicated under ADDRESSES.

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 of regulatory significance 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 recipients.

(d) Whether the rule raises novel legal or policy issues.

An economic analysis was prepared for the 2008-09 season. This analysis was based on data from the 2006 National Hunting and Fishing Survey, the most recent year for which data are available (see discussion in Regulatory Flexibility Act section below). This analysis estimates consumer surplus for three alternatives for duck hunting (estimates for other species are not quantified due to lack of data). The alternatives are (1) issue restrictive regulations allowing fewer days than those issued during the 2007-08 season, (2) issue moderate regulations allowing more days than those in alternative 1, and (3) issue liberal regulations identical to the regulations in the 2007-08 season. For the 2008-09 season, we chose alternative 3, with an estimated consumer surplus across all flyways of $205-$270 million. For the upcoming 2009-10 season, we again considered these three alternatives and again chose alternative 3 for ducks. We made minor modifications to the season frameworks for some other species, but these do not significantly change the economic impacts of the rule, which were not quantified for other species. For these reasons, we have not conducted a new economic analysis, but the 2008-09 analysis is part of the record for this rule and is available at​migratorybirds/​NewReportsPublications/​SpecialTopics/​SpecialTopics.html#HuntingRegs or at

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. 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, 2004, and 2008. 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 2008 Analysis was based on the 2006 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 approximately $1.2 billion at small businesses in 2008. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the street address indicated under ADDRESSES or from our Web site at​migratorybirds/​NewReportsPublications/​SpecialTopics/​SpecialTopics.html#HuntingRegs or at

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.

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 regulatory action” under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988

The Department, in promulgating this rule, has determined that it 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.Start Printed Page 49246

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

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

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 10 Federal Register, 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 2009-10 migratory bird hunting season. The resulting proposals were contained in a separate August 11, 2009, proposed rule (74 FR 40138). By virtue of these actions, we have consulted with 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 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, States would have insufficient time to select season dates and limits; to communicate those selections to us; and to establish and publicize the necessary regulations and procedures to implement their decisions. 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 frameworks will, therefore, take effect immediately upon publication. Therefore, under authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (July 3, 1918), as amended (16 U.S.C. 703-711), we prescribe final frameworks setting forth the species to be hunted, the daily bag and possession limits, the shooting hours, the season lengths, the earliest opening and latest closing season dates, and hunting areas, from which State conservation agency officials will select hunting season dates and other options. Upon receipt of season selections from these officials, we will publish a final rulemaking amending 50 CFR part 20 to reflect seasons, limits, and shooting hours for the conterminous United States for the 2009-10 season.

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List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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Dated: September 16, 2009.

Thomas L. Strickland,

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

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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: Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 40 Stat. 755, 16 U.S.C. 703-712; Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 16 U.S.C. 742a-j; Pub. L. 106-108, 113 Stat. 1491, Note Following 16 U.S.C. 703.

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[FR Doc. E9-22874 Filed 9-24-09; 8:45 am]