Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
On April 11, 2007, we published in the
On June 8, 2007, we published in the
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
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
A brief summary of information on the status and harvest of waterfowl excerpted from various reports was included in the August 31 supplemental proposed rule. For more detailed information on methodologies and results, complete copies of the various reports are available at the address indicated under
The preliminary proposed rulemaking, which appeared in the April 11, 2007,
We received recommendations from all four Flyway Councils. Some recommendations supported continuation of last year's frameworks. Due to the comprehensive nature of the annual review of the frameworks performed by the Councils, support for continuation of last year's frameworks is assumed for items for which no recommendations were received. Council recommendations for changes in the frameworks are summarized below.
Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest management are: (A) Harvest Strategy Considerations, (B) Regulatory Alternatives, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special Seasons/Species Management. The categories correspond to previously published issues/discussion, and only those containing recommendations are discussed below.
The Central Flyway Council also recommended the “liberal” alternative. However, as part of their Hunter's Choice experiment, they recommended continuation of the following bag limits:
In Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, the daily bag limit would be six ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: Five mallards (no more than two of which may be females), two redheads, two scaup, two wood ducks, one pintail, one mottled duck, and one canvasback. For pintails and canvasbacks, the season length would be 39 days, which may be split according to applicable zones/split duck hunting configurations approved for each State.
In Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming, the daily bag limit would be five ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: Two scaup, two redheads, and two wood ducks, and only one from the following group—hen mallards, mottled ducks, pintails, canvasbacks.
For the 2007 hunting season, we considered the same regulatory alternatives as those used last year. The nature of the restrictive, moderate, and liberal alternatives has remained essentially unchanged since 1997, except that extended framework dates have been offered in the moderate and liberal regulatory alternatives since 2002. Also, we agreed in 2003 to place a constraint on closed seasons in the western three Flyways whenever the midcontinent mallard breeding-population size (traditional survey area plus Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin) is ≥5.5 million.
Optimal AHM strategies for the 2007 hunting season were calculated using: (1) Harvest-management objectives specific to each mallard stock; (2) the 2007 regulatory alternatives; and (3) current population models and associated weights for midcontinent and eastern mallards. Based on this year's survey results of 9.05 million midcontinent mallards (traditional survey area plus MN, WI, and MI), 5.04 million ponds in Prairie Canada, and 906,900 eastern mallards, we believe the appropriate regulatory choice for all four Flyways is the “liberal” alternative.
Therefore, we concur with the recommendations of the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyway Councils regarding selection of the “liberal” regulatory alternative and will adopt the “liberal” regulatory alternative, as described in the June 8
Regarding Hunter's Choice, we support the Central Flyway's continuation of a 3-year evaluation of the Hunter's Choice duck bag limit. The Central Flyway's Hunter's Choice regulations are intended to limit harvest on pintails and canvasbacks in a manner similar to the season-within-a-season regulations. Hunter's Choice regulations should also reduce harvests of mottled ducks and hen mallards, while maintaining full hunting opportunity on abundant species such as drake mallards. For the species included in the aggregate bag limit, the harvest of one species is intended to “buffer” the harvest of the others, thus reducing the harvest of all species included in the one-bird category. The Central Flyway has accumulated 4 years of baseline information on harvests resulting from “season-within-a-season” regulations in the Central Flyway; the season length for pintails and canvasbacks in season-within-a-season States under the “liberal” alternative will be 39 days.
Five States (Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming) were randomly assigned to Hunter's Choice regulations and the remaining five States (Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma) serve as controls (season-within-a-season regulations) as the evaluation proceeds. The overall duck daily bag limit is reduced from six to five for the Hunter's Choice States.
While we continue to support the Central Flyway's Hunter's Choice experiment, we reiterate that we believe implementation of this experiment should not preclude any future changes in hunting regulations that may be deemed necessary on an annual basis for any other duck species in the Central Flyway, if such changes are deemed necessary.
The Central Flyway Council, as part of their Hunter's Choice experiment, recommended a full season (74 days) for canvasbacks with a 1-bird daily bag limit in Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming and a 39-day season with a 1-bird daily bag limit in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
This 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, results 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 is expected to be about 120,000 birds. Available data indicates that adding a second canvasback to the daily bag limit is expected to increase harvest about 25 percent, or to approximately 150,000 birds in the United States. The current harvest strategy has no provisions for daily bag limits greater than one bird. However, with the record high breeding population recorded this spring and the expected good recruitment, the strategy would project population growth even with a 2-bird daily bag limit. Therefore, we are in support of the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Pacific Flyway Councils' recommendations to increase the daily bag limit for canvasbacks to two birds for the 2007-08 season. We also support the Central Flyway Council's recommendation to leave canvasback limits unchanged in the Central Flyway to allow continuation of the Hunter's Choice experiment in that Flyway.
We continue to support the canvasback harvest strategy and the model adopted in 1994. However, this strategy was developed primarily due to concerns about low population levels, and as such, did not address circumstances encountered this year of record high abundance and the potential for increased daily bag limits. We believe there is reasonable opportunity to allow a limited increase in the daily bag limit this year without compromising the population(s ability to sustain a breeding population in excess of 500,000 canvasbacks next spring.
We note, however, that departures from existing harvest strategies are not actions that we generally condone, nor will we make an exception to the canvasback strategy next year, even if similar circumstances exist, without an explicit modification to the existing strategy allowing for daily bag limits greater than one bird. Over the next year, we are willing to discuss the possibility of revising the strategy with the Flyway Councils and other interested parties. Because the population model has performed relatively well to date, 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. We believe that 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.
Due to the relative lateness of this development, the generally earlier opening of duck seasons in Alaska (September 1), and the anticipated level of harvest in Alaska, we will exclude Alaska from the increase in the daily bag limit this year, as was recommended by the Pacific Flyway Council, with the State of Alaska's concurrence. However, we believe that Alaska should fully engage in review of population objectives and remain a part of the overall harvest strategy for this species. Additionally, explicit provisions for Alaska should be considered in any proposed modifications to the strategy that might be forthcoming from the Flyways for the next regulatory cycle.
The Central Flyway Council, as part of their Hunter's Choice experiment, recommended a full season (74 days) for pintails with a 1-bird daily bag limit in Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming and a 39-day season with a 1-bird daily bag limit in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Based on this revised strategy, along with an observed spring breeding population of 3.34 million, an overflight-bias-corrected breeding population of 4.34 million and a projected fall flight of 5.29 million pintails, the Pintail Harvest Strategy prescribes a full season and a 1-bird daily bag limit in all Flyways. Under the “liberal” season length, this regulation is expected to result in a harvest of 569,000 pintails and an observed breeding population estimate of 3.24 million in 2008, not considering any potential effect from continuation of the Hunter's Choice evaluation in the Central Flyway.
Furthermore, we agree with the Central Flyway Council's recommendation to adopt a 39-day “season-within-a-season” for pintails in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. We understand
Last year, we stated that we did not change scaup harvest regulations with the firm understanding that a draft harvest strategy would be available for Flyway Council review prior to the winter meetings (71 FR 55654, September 22, 2006) and be in place to guide development of scaup hunting regulations in 2007. As part of this effort, 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 presented during the Winter Flyway Technical Section meetings and made available for public review in the April 11
In the July 23
We remain disappointed that collectively we have not made the progress anticipated in the development of a viable strategy to manage harvest that acknowledges the uncertainty about what factors are really influencing scaup numbers, but at the same time provides guidance on what changes in regulations are still appropriate. Although we remain very concerned about the continued decline in scaup numbers and other evidence that this species is not doing well, we are not changing scaup regulations for the 2007-08 hunting season. Our decision is based on several important factors. First, we believe that the hunting seasons provided herein are compatible with the current status of scaup. Second, we have a firm understanding that a harvest strategy will be available for 2008-09 and that outstanding policy issues will be resolved and incorporated into a final strategy in time for adoption in June 2008. And lastly, we believe that this additional year of harvest strategy development will not compromise our long term goals for scaup. We will work with the Flyway Councils to resolve outstanding issues and to continue ongoing cooperative efforts to improve the monitoring programs and databases upon which scaup regulatory decisions are based. These include: Evaluation of potential biases in population estimates, expansion and improvement of population surveys, and a feasibility assessment of a broad-scale scaup banding program. Additionally, we will continue retrospective analyses of existing databases to assist in the identification of causal factors which might explain the continued scaup decline.
In preparation for that dialogue, we reiterate our longstanding objections to State-specific regulations and encourage the Flyway Councils to focus efforts on achieving consensus around Flyway-wide regulatory alternatives. Secondly, we recognize that additional effort is necessary over the coming year to communicate the rationale for a scaup strategy and possible regulatory changes to the Flyways and the public. We intend to review progress on policy issues at the winter 2008 SRC meeting and anticipate significant progress by that time.
While we are not implementing any changes in mottled duck hunting regulations at this time, we remain concerned about mottled duck status, especially those in the Western Gulf Coast region of Louisiana and Texas. However, we commend the progress made on the management of mottled ducks over the past year-and-a-half, including the identification of two management populations and work on range-wide breeding surveys in Florida and the Western Gulf Coast. We are committed to managing the Western Gulf Coast as a single stock of birds, and acknowledge the challenges that are associated with a population boundary that includes more than one Flyway. We request that both the Central and Mississippi Flyways work together to consider how a reduction in harvest, by as much as 30 percent if necessary, can be achieved with regulatory changes. We are confident that the Flyways will be able to adequately address harvest management of mottled ducks as a single Western Gulf Coast population unit, and we look forward to considering a coordinated proposal during the 2008-09 regulatory cycle. During the coming year, we will continue to explore methods to assess mottled duck population status and refine our understanding of population and harvest dynamics.
Further, we recognize that the mottled duck is an integral part of the Central Flyway's Hunter's Choice bag-limit experiment, and we support continued
The Upper- and Lower-Region Regulations Committees of the Mississippi Flyway Council recommended a number of changes in Canada goose zones, seasons lengths, and bag limits for several States in the Flyway. These changes are an outgrowth of the evolution of Canada goose harvest management philosophy in the Flyway. The change in philosophy in the Flyway is driven by the increasing numbers of giant Canada geese and the diminishing importance of interior Canada geese to goose harvest opportunities in the Flyway. The large numbers of giant Canada geese in most States appear to be buffering, to some extent, hunting pressure on interior Canada geese. These changes will allow States to evaluate the potential of this buffering effect as well as the impacts of stable regulations on interior Canada goose populations.
The Central Flyway Council recommended several changes for dark goose regulations. In the West Tier, they recommended an increase in season length (from 95 to 107 days) in Colorado and an increase in bag limit (from 3 to 4) in Colorado and Texas. In the East Tier, they recommended removing the Big Stone Power Plant area restriction in South Dakota.
The Pacific Flyway Council recommended the following area, bag, and season length changes described below:
1. Increase the bag limit to 6 geese per day in the California Northeastern and Balance-of-State Zones;
2. Increase the daily bag limit for small Canada geese in the California Balance-of-State Zone to 6 geese per day;
3. Eliminate the closed zone of Tillamook County, Oregon, include the county in the NW Oregon Permit Goose Zone, and establish a daily bag limit of dark geese of 3 including not more than 2 cackling or Aleutian geese; and
4. Revise Idaho zone designations for 4 counties, to move all parts of Power County from Zone 3 to Zone 5 and move Blaine and Camas Counties and Cassia County within Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge from Zone 3 to Zone 4.
Under this revised delineation, New York's High and Low harvest zones would contain approximately 83% and 17%, respectively, of all NAP band returns, still well within the management plan criteria. In Connecticut, only 11% of all NAP recoveries have occurred in the NAP-L zone since delineation (2002) of these harvest zones, and no NAP recoveries have occurred in the proposed area of change. Both of these changes would not only allow for more harvest of RP geese, but would have minimal impact to NAP geese.
We also concur with the Atlantic Flyway Council's recommendations regarding frameworks for RP harvest areas. Resident Canada geese are overabundant in many areas of the Atlantic Flyway and currently number approximately 1.2 million birds, or nearly double the goal in the Atlantic Flyway Resident Canada Goose Management Plan of 650,000 geese. Allowance of an 80-day season, combined with the 25-day special Canada goose season in September, and the 2-day Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, would potentially allow 107 days of harvest opportunity for RP geese, the maximum allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Further, allowing 3-way splits within the regular season would provide States with greater flexibility for setting their seasons. All of these objectives are consistent with those identified in the Service's 2005 Final Environmental Impact Statement
We also agree with the Atlantic Flyway Council's recommendation to reclassify a small portion of the Northeast Goose Hunt Zone in Northampton County, North Carolina, to an SJBP Hunt Zone designation. Northampton County currently includes portions of two Canada goose hunt zones—an AP zone designation and an SJBP zone designation. Over the last 15 years, the AP zone in North Carolina has decreased in size due to contemporary information regarding locations of migrant Canada goose flocks and population affiliation. While Northampton County does hold migrant geese from both the AP and SJBP, the Flyway's original intent in including this small portion of Northampton County in the AP zone occurred at a time when the AP population was reduced throughout the entire Flyway, and when the Service's and Flyway's goal was to provide maximum protection to AP geese in North Carolina. Since then, AP geese have rebounded from low numbers in the late 1990s, and the hunting of AP geese in North Carolina has been relaxed to some extent.
We do not agree with the framework changes and season liberalizations proposed by the Mississippi Flyway Council to the SJBP harvest areas. SJBP Canada geese are managed through a management plan developed cooperatively by the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. In recent years, the Mississippi Flyway has undergone major changes in their philosophical approach to Canada goose management. As a result, the Mississippi Flyway Council has instituted changes in their regulatory approach to MVP, SJBP, and RP Canada goose management. While the Mississippi Flyway Council believes that their 2007-08 proposals for SJBP regulations are consistent with the current management plan, the Atlantic Flyway Council believes that more dialogue is needed on these proposals before they can support them. Given the lack of consensus between the two Flyways, we do not support changes to SJBP regulations at this time. We encourage the two Flyways to revise the SJBP management plan to reflect evolving philosophies of Canada goose management in general.
We concur with the Central Flyway's recommendation to increase the season length from 95 to 107 days for dark geese in Colorado and increase the daily bag limit in Colorado and Texas. The 2005-07 average (211,627) of mid-winter counts for the Hi-Line Population of Canada geese remains well above the established objective level (85,000). Further, the 2005-07 average (200,821) of mid-winter counts for the Shortgrass Prairie Population of Canada geese also remains above the established population objective (150,000-200,000). Given the status of these populations and the established population objective levels, we agree that the proposed increase in season length in Colorado and the daily bag limit increases in Colorado and Texas are commensurate with the status of the populations.
Regarding the Central Flyway Council's recommendation to remove the Big Stone Power Plant area restriction in South Dakota, we agree. The restriction was put in place in 1997 due to potential concerns related to the status of Eastern Prairie Population (EPP) Canada geese. These geese nest in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of Manitoba and concentrate primarily in Manitoba, Minnesota, and Missouri during winter. The 2007 spring estimate of EPP geese was 217,500, 17 percent higher than the 2006 estimate. Spring estimates have increased an average of 3 percent per year over the last 10 years. Furthermore, the estimated number of productive geese in 2007 increased from 2006 and reached a record-high level. We see no reason to continue this restriction.
We also concur with all of the recommendations forwarded by the Pacific Flyway Council. We support the changes proposed and recognize that the changes in California and Oregon are intended to address increasing depredation problems associated with Aleutian Canada geese. Aleutian Canada geese continue to increase rapidly and currently are above the population objective levels identified in the Flyway management plan. We further note that Pacific Flyway white-fronted geese and Aleutian Canada geese are at the highest population levels that have been observed in the last 15 years. The proposed increased harvest opportunity will help address depredation concerns in northwest California and southwest Oregon associated with both of these populations. The other changes proposed for Canada geese in Washington, Utah, and Nevada, are relatively minor boundary changes in harvest zones or bag limit increases that will help address depredation concerns in these States and will not impact the harvest of other Canada goose populations of management concern in the Flyway. The proposed zone boundary change in Idaho is an administrative change and is not expected to have any measurable impact on the goose harvest from these areas.
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
In a notice published in the September 8, 2005,
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 that 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
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
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
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
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 is available. Copies of the updated analysis are available upon request from the address indicated under
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 selections, we will publish in the
Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.
The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 2007-08 hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.
Pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and delegated authorities, the Department has approved the following frameworks for season lengths, shooting hours, bag and possession limits, and outside dates within which States may select seasons for hunting waterfowl and coots between the dates of September 1, 2007, and March 10, 2008.
Dates: All outside dates noted below are inclusive.
Shooting and Hawking (taking by falconry) Hours: Unless otherwise
Possession Limits: Unless otherwise specified, possession limits are twice the daily bag limit.
Atlantic Flyway—includes Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Mississippi Flyway—includes Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Central Flyway—includes Colorado (east of the Continental Divide), Kansas, Montana (Counties of Blaine, Carbon, Fergus, Judith Basin, Stillwater, Sweetgrass, Wheatland, and all counties east thereof), Nebraska, New Mexico (east of the Continental Divide except the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming (east of the Continental Divide).
Pacific Flyway—includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and those portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming not included in the Central Flyway.
High Plains Mallard Management Unit—roughly defined as that portion of the Central Flyway that lies west of the 100th meridian.
Definitions: For the purpose of hunting regulations listed below, the collective terms “dark” and “light” geese include the following species:
Area, Zone, and Unit Descriptions: Geographic descriptions related to late-season regulations are contained in a later portion of this document.
Area-Specific Provisions: Frameworks for open seasons, season lengths, bag and possession limits, and other special provisions are listed below by Flyway.
In the Atlantic Flyway States of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, where Sunday hunting is prohibited statewide by State law, all Sundays are closed to all take of migratory waterfowl (including mergansers and coots).
Outside Dates: States may select two consecutive days (hunting days in Atlantic Flyway States with compensatory days) per duck-hunting zone, designated as “Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days,” in addition to their regular duck seasons. The days must be held outside any regular duck season on a weekend, holiday, or other non-school day when youth hunters would have the maximum opportunity to participate. The days may be held up to 14 days before or after any regular duck-season frameworks or within any split of a regular duck season, or within any other open season on migratory birds.
Daily Bag Limits: The daily bag limits may include ducks, geese, tundra swans, mergansers, coots, moorhens, and gallinules and would be the same as those allowed in the regular season. Flyway species and area restrictions would remain in effect.
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Participation Restrictions: Youth hunters must be 15 years of age or younger. In addition, an adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter into the field. This adult may not duck hunt but may participate in other seasons that are open on the special youth day. Tundra swans may only be taken by participants possessing applicable tundra swan permits.
Outside Dates: Between the Saturday nearest September 24 (September 22) and the last Sunday in January (January 27).
Hunting Seasons and Duck Limits: 60 days. The daily bag limit is 6 ducks, including no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 2 scaup, 1 black duck, 1 pintail, 2 canvasbacks, 1 mottled duck, 1 fulvous whistling duck, 2 wood ducks, 2 redheads, and 4 scoters.
Closures: The season on harlequin ducks is closed.