Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
We will not accept email or faxes. We will post all comments on
To ensure that any proposed action resulting from this proposed rule will be as accurate and as effective as possible, we request that you send relevant information for our consideration. The comments that will be most useful and likely to influence our decisions are those that you support by quantitative information or studies and those that include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations. Please make your comments as specific as possible and explain the basis for them. In addition, please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to authenticate any scientific or commercial data you include.
You must submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed above in the
If you mail or hand-carry a hardcopy comment directly to us that includes personal information, 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. To ensure that the electronic docket for this rulemaking is complete and all comments we receive are publicly available, we will post all hardcopy comments on
In addition, comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation used in preparing this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection in two ways:
(1) You can view them on
(2) You can make an appointment, during normal business hours, to view the comments and materials in person at the Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4501 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 4107, Arlington, VA 22203-1610.
As stated above in more detail, before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
This rulemaking is necessary because, by law, the migratory bird harvest season is closed unless opened by the Secretary of the Interior, and the regulations governing subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska are subject to public review and annual approval. This rule proposes regulations for the taking of migratory birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 2013. This rule proposes a list of migratory bird season openings and closures in Alaska by region.
Background information, including past events leading to this rulemaking, accomplishments since the Migratory Bird Treaties with Canada and Mexico were amended, and a history, was originally addressed in the
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) is proposing migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2013 season. These regulations would enable the continuation of customary and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska and prescribe regional information on when and where the harvesting of birds may occur. These proposed regulations were developed under a co-management process involving the Service, the Alaska
We opened the process to establish regulations for the 2013 spring and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska in a proposed rule published in the
The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management Council) held meetings on April 11-12 and May 9, 2012, to develop recommendations for changes that would take effect during the 2013 harvest season. These recommendations were presented first to the Flyway Councils and then to the Service Regulations Committee at the committee's meeting on July 25 and 26, 2012.
Eligibility to harvest under the regulations established in 2003 was limited to permanent residents, regardless of race, in villages located within the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Archipelago, the Aleutian Islands, and in areas north and west of the Alaska Range (50 CFR 92.5). These geographical restrictions opened the initial migratory bird subsistence harvest to about 13 percent of Alaska residents. High-populated, roaded areas such as Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna and Fairbanks North Star boroughs, the Kenai Peninsula roaded area, the Gulf of Alaska roaded area, and Southeast Alaska were excluded from eligible subsistence harvest areas.
Based on petitions requesting inclusion in the harvest, in 2004, we added 13 additional communities based on criteria set forth in 50 CFR 92.5(c). These communities were Gulkana, Gakona, Tazlina, Copper Center, Mentasta Lake, Chitina, Chistochina, Tatitlek, Chenega, Port Graham, Nanwalek, Tyonek, and Hoonah, with a combined population of 2,766. In 2005, we added three additional communities for glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only, based on petitions requesting inclusion. These southeastern communities were Craig, Hydaburg, and Yakutat, with a combined population of 2,459, based on the latest census information at that time.
In 2007, we enacted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's request to expand the Fairbanks North Star Borough excluded area to include the Central Interior area. This action excluded the following communities from participation in this harvest: Big Delta/Fort Greely, Healy, McKinley Park/Village, and Ferry, with a combined population of 2,812.
Regulations proposed in this rule are identical to those for the 2012 harvest season. However, at the April 2012 Co-Management Council meeting, the North Slope Borough requested that the provision that enables yellow-billed loons inadvertently caught in subsistence fishing to be kept for subsistence use be added permanently to the consent agenda from 2013 regulations forward. The request would eliminate the need for the North Slope Borough to resubmit the loon proposal annually and eliminate the requirement for the Service Regulations Committee to review and decide on the proposal at each subsequent July meeting. The motion passed with unanimous consent by the Co-Management Council.
In 2011, the North Slope Borough Wildlife Department conducted harvest surveys in Barrow, Atqasuk, and Nuiqsut. They identified 125 fishermen and cabin owners from those 3 communities involved. Of the 125, only 3 refused to participate in the survey, so we had 97 percent participation. The resultant estimate was 25 yellow-billed loons entangled, of which 7 were released, 4 were used to make headdresses for traditional, ceremonial dances, and the remainder used for other subsistence purposes.
In the Co-Management Council's discussion of the North Slope Borough's proposal to eliminate the requirement for annual submission and review, the State of Alaska Representative stated that the North Slope Borough had done a very good job of putting together a loon harvest survey in those areas where yellow-billed loons and fishing co-exist, documenting the current levels of inadvertent take. At this meeting, the North Slope Borough committed to continue collecting this information for 2 more years (through 2013) to provide additional inadvertent take numbers to the Service Regulations Committee. On July 26, 2012, the Service Regulations Committee supported removal of the requirement for annual review and approval of the yellow-billed loon provision for the North Slope.
We have monitored subsistence harvest for the past 25 years through the use of annual household surveys in the most heavily used subsistence harvest areas, such as the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. In recent years, more intensive surveys combined with outreach efforts focused on species identification have been added to improve the accuracy of information gathered from regions still reporting some subsistence harvest of listed or candidate species.
The Service has dual goals and responsibilities for authorizing a subsistence harvest while protecting migratory birds and threatened species. Although these goals continue to be challenging, they are not irreconcilable, providing the proposed regulations continue to protect threatened species, measures to remedy documented threats are implemented, and the subsistence community and other conservation partners commit to working together. With these dual goals in mind, the Service, working with North Slope partners, developed measures in 2009 to further reduce the potential for shooting mortality or injury of closed species. These conservation measures included: (1) Increased waterfowl hunter outreach and community awareness through partnering with the North Slope Migratory Bird Task Force; (2) continued enforcement of the migratory bird regulations that are protective of listed eiders; and (3) in-season Service verification of the harvest to detect taking of any threatened eider species.
This proposed rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow to Point Hope because Steller's eiders from the listed Alaska breeding population are known to breed and migrate there. These proposed regulations are designed to address several ongoing eider management needs by clarifying
The Service is aware of and appreciates the considerable efforts by North Slope partners to raise awareness and educate hunters on Steller's eider conservation via the bird fair, meetings, radio shows, signs, school visits, and one-on-one contacts. We also recognize that no listed eiders have been documented shot in the last 3 years, even though Steller's eiders nested in the Barrow area from 2010 through 2012. The Service acknowledges progress made with the other eider conservation measures including partnering with the North Slope Migratory Bird Task Force for increased waterfowl hunter awareness, continued enforcement of the regulations, and in-season verification of the harvest. Our primary strategy to reduce the threat of shooting mortality of threatened eiders is to continue working with North Slope partners to conduct education, outreach, and harvest monitoring. In addition, the emergency closure authority provides another level of assurance if an unexpected amount of Steller's eider shooting mortality occurs (50 CFR 92.21 and 50 CFR 92.32).
In-season harvest monitoring information would be used to evaluate the efficacy of regulations, conservation measures, and outreach efforts. During 2009 through 2012, no Steller's eiders were reported being taken on the North Slope, and no Steller's eiders were found shot during in-season verification of the subsistence harvest. Based on these successes, the 2012 conservation measures would also be continued, although there would be some modification of the amount of effort and emphasis each would receive. Specifically, local communities have continued to develop greater responsibility for taking actions to ensure Steller's and spectacled eider conservation and recovery, and based on last year's observations, local hunters have demonstrated greater compliance with hunting regulations.
The longstanding general emergency closure provision at 50 CFR 92.21 specifies that the harvest may be closed or temporarily suspended upon finding that a continuation of the regulation allowing the harvest would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of any migratory bird population. With regard to Steller's eiders, the regulation at 50 CFR 92.32, carried over from the past 3 years, would clarify that we would take action under 50 CFR 92.21 as is necessary to prevent further take of Steller's eiders, and that action could include temporary or long-term closures of the harvest in all or a portion of the geographic area open to harvest. If mortality of threatened eiders occurs, we would evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as cause, quantity, sex, age, location, and date. We would consult with the Co-management Council when we are considering an emergency closure. If we determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we would design it to minimize its impact on the subsistence harvest.
Yellow-billed loon (
Consistent with the request of the North Slope Borough Fish and Game Management Committee and the recommendation of the Co-management Council, this rule proposes to continue through 2013 the provisions originally established in 2005, to allow subsistence use of yellow-billed loons inadvertently entangled in subsistence fishing (gill) nets on the North Slope. Yellow-billed loons are culturally important to the Inupiat Eskimo of the North Slope for use in traditional dance regalia. A maximum of 20 yellow-billed loons would be allowed to be kept if found entangled in fishing nets in 2013, under this provision. This proposed provision does not authorize intentional harvest of yellow-billed loons, but allows use of those loons inadvertently entangled during normal subsistence fishing activities.
We are proposing to add a definition of harvest season “closure” to the existing definitions list at 50 CFR 92.4. This change to the regulations would clarify our use of this term. This addition was requested by members of the public who expressed some confusion as to whether or not egg gathering is also prohibited during harvest closures. Under our proposed definition, we clarify that a season “closure” means that the season is closed to all forms of harvest, including hunting and egg gathering, unless specified otherwise.
Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (16 U.S.C. 1536) requires the Secretary of the Interior to “review other programs administered by him and utilize such programs in furtherance of the purposes of the Act” and to “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 * * *.” Prior to issuance of annual spring and summer subsistence regulations, we would consult under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), to ensure that the 2013 subsistence harvest is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species designated as endangered or threatened, or modify or destroy its critical habitats, and that the regulations are consistent with conservation programs for those species. Consultation under section 7 of the Act for the annual subsistence take regulations may cause us to change these regulations. Our biological opinion resulting from the section 7 consultation is a public document available from person listed under
We derive our authority to issue these regulations from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, at 16 U.S.C. 712(1), which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, in accordance with the treaties
Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not significant.
Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.
The Department of the Interior certifies that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601
This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
(a) Would not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. It proposes to legalize and regulate a traditional subsistence activity. It would not result in a substantial increase in subsistence harvest or a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities that would be regulated under this proposed rule are migratory birds. This rule deals with legalizing the subsistence harvest of migratory birds and, as such, does not involve commodities traded in the marketplace. A small economic benefit from this proposed rule would derive from the sale of equipment and ammunition to carry out subsistence hunting. Most, if not all, businesses that sell hunting equipment in rural Alaska qualify as small businesses. We have no reason to believe that this proposed rule would lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits.
(b) Would not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government agencies; or geographic regions. This proposed rule does not deal with traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices for consumers.
(c) Would not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises. This proposed rule deals with the harvesting of wildlife for personal consumption. It does not regulate the marketplace in any way to generate effects on the economy or the ability of businesses to compete.
We have determined and certified under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1501
Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this proposed rule would not have significant takings implications. This proposed rule is not specific to particular land ownership, but applies to the harvesting of migratory bird resources throughout Alaska. A takings implication assessment is not required.
Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this proposed rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this proposed rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act section above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these proposed regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not required.
The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined that it would not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.
Consistent with Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249; November 6, 2000), “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”, and Department of Interior policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes (December 1, 2011), we will send letters to all 229 Alaska Federally recognized Indian tribes. Consistent with Congressional direction (Pub. L. 108-199, div. H, Sec. 161, Jan. 23, 2004, 118
We implemented the amended treaty with Canada with a focus on local involvement. The treaty calls for the creation of management bodies to ensure an effective and meaningful role for Alaska's indigenous inhabitants in the conservation of migratory birds. According to the Letter of Submittal, management bodies are to include Alaska Native, Federal, and State of Alaska representatives as equals. They would develop recommendations for among other things: Seasons and bag limits, methods and means of take, law enforcement policies, population and harvest monitoring, education programs, research and use of traditional knowledge, and habitat protection. The management bodies would involve village councils to the maximum extent possible in all aspects of management. To ensure maximum input at the village level, we required each of the 11 participating regions to create regional management bodies consisting of at least one representative from the participating villages. The regional management bodies meet twice annually to review and/or submit proposals to the Statewide body.
This proposed rule has been examined under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501
The annual regulations and options are considered in the environmental assessment, “Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2013 Spring/Summer Harvest,” September 12, 2012. Copies are available from the person listed under
Executive Order 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. This is not a significant regulatory action under this Executive Order; it would allow only for traditional subsistence harvest and would improve conservation of migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. Further, this proposed rule is not expected to significantly affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action under Executive Order 13211, and no Statement of Energy Effects is required.
Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife.
For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend title 50, chapter I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:
1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows:
16 U.S.C. 703-712.
2. Amend § 92.4 by adding, in alphabetical order, a definition for “
3. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.31 to read as follows:
The 2013 season dates for the eligible subsistence harvest areas are as follows:
(1) Northern Unit (Pribilof Islands):
(i) Season: April 2-June 30.
(ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
(2) Central Unit (Aleut Region's eastern boundary on the Alaska Peninsula westward to and including Unalaska Island):
(i) Season: April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31.
(ii) Closure: June 16-July 15.
(iii) Special Black Brant Season Closure: August 16-August 31, only in Izembek and Moffet lagoons.
(iv) Special Tundra Swan Closure: All hunting and egg gathering closed in units 9(D) and 10.
(3) Western Unit (Umnak Island west to and including Attu Island):
(i) Season: April 2-July 15 and August 16-August 31.
(ii) Closure: July 16-August 15.
(1) Season: April 2-August 31.
(2) Closure: 30-day closure dates to be announced by the Service's Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation Committee. This 30-day period would occur between June 1 and August 15 of each year. A press release announcing the actual closure dates would be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations.
(3) Special Black Brant and Cackling Goose Season Hunting Closure: From the period when egg laying begins until young birds are fledged. Closure dates to be announced by the Service's Alaska Regional Director or his designee, after consultation with field biologists and the Association of Village Council President's Waterfowl Conservation Committee. A press release announcing the actual closure dates would be forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations.
(1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31 (general season); April 2-July 15 for seabird egg gathering only.
(2) Closure: June 15-July 15 (general season); July 16-August 31 (seabird egg gathering).
(1) Stebbins/St. Michael Area (Point Romanof to Canal Point):
(i) Season: April 15-June 14 and July 16-August 31.
(ii) Closure: June 15-July 15.
(2) Remainder of the region:
(i) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31 for waterfowl; April 2-July 19 and August 21-August 31 for all other birds.
(ii) Closure: June 15-July 15 for waterfowl; July 20-August 20 for all other birds.
(1) Season: April 2-June 30 and July 31-August 31 for seabirds; April 2-June 20 and July 22-August 31 for all other birds.
(2) Closure: July 1-July 30 for seabirds; June 21-July 21 for all other birds.
(1) Season: April 2-June 9 and August 15-August 31 (hunting in general); waterfowl egg gathering May 20-June 9 only; seabird egg gathering May 20-July 12 only; hunting molting/non-nesting waterfowl July 1-July 31 only.
(2) Closure: June 10-August 14, except for the taking of seabird eggs and molting/non-nesting waterfowl as provided in paragraph (f)(1) of this section.
(1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary east to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude line 158°30′ W and south of the latitude line 70°45′ N to the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude line 69°45′ N between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
(i) Season: April 2-June 29 and July 30-August 31 for seabirds; April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31 for all other birds.
(ii) Closure: June 30-July 29 for seabirds; June 20-July 19 for all other birds.
(iii) Special Black Brant Hunting Opening: From June 20-July 5. The open area would consist of the coastline, from mean high water line outward to include open water, from Nokotlek Point east to longitude line 158°30′ W. This includes Peard Bay, Kugrua Bay, and Wainwright Inlet, but not the Kuk and Kugrua river drainages.
(2) Northern Unit (At Peard Bay, everything east of the longitude line 158°30′ W and north of the latitude line 70°45′ N to west bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude line 69°45′ N between the west bank of the Ikpikpuk River to the east bank of Sagavinirktok River):
(i) Season: April 6-June 6 and July 7-August 31 for king and common eiders; April 2-June 15 and July 16-August 31 for all other birds.
(ii) Closure: June 7-July 6 for king and common eiders; June 16-July 15 for all other birds.
(3) Eastern Unit (East of eastern bank of the Sagavanirktok River):
(i) Season: April 2-June 19 and July 20-August 31.
(ii) Closure: June 20-July 19.
(4) All Units: Yellow-billed loons. Annually, up to 20 yellow-billed loons total for the region may be inadvertently entangled in subsistence fishing nets in the North Slope Region and kept for subsistence use.
(5) North Coastal Zone (Cape Thompson north to Point Hope and east along the Arctic Ocean coastline around Point Barrow to Ross Point, including Iko Bay, and 5 miles inland).
(i) No person may at any time, by any means, or in any manner, possess or have in custody any migratory bird or part thereof, taken in violation of subpart C and D of this part.
(ii) Upon request from a Service law enforcement officer, hunters taking, attempting to take, or transporting migratory birds taken during the subsistence harvest season must present them to the officer for species identification.
(1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31; egg gathering May 1-June 14 only.
(2) Closure: June 15-July 15.
(1) Season: April 15-May 26 and June 27-August 31.
(2) Closure: May 27-June 26.
(3) The Copper River Basin communities listed above also documented traditional use harvesting birds in Unit 12, making them eligible to hunt in this unit using the seasons specified in paragraph (h) of this section.
(1) Prince William Sound Area (Harvest area: Unit 6[D]), (Eligible Chugach communities: Chenega Bay, Tatitlek):
(i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
(ii) Closure: June 1-30.
(2) Kachemak Bay Area (Harvest area: Unit 15[C] South of a line connecting the tip of Homer Spit to the mouth of Fox River) (Eligible Chugach Communities: Port Graham, Nanwalek):
(i) Season: April 2-May 31 and July 1-August 31.
(ii) Closure: June 1-30.
(1) Season: April 2-May 31—That portion of Unit 16(B) south of the Skwentna River and west of the Yentna River, and August 1-31—That portion of Unit 16(B) south of the Beluga River, Beluga Lake, and the Triumvirate Glacier:
(2) Closure: June 1-July 31.
(1) Community of Hoonah (Harvest area: National Forest lands in Icy Strait and Cross Sound, including Middle Pass Rock near the Inian Islands, Table Rock in Cross Sound, and other traditional locations on the coast of Yakobi Island. The land and waters of Glacier Bay National Park remain closed to all subsistence harvesting (50 CFR 100.3(a)):
(i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 30.
(ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
(2) Communities of Craig and Hydaburg (Harvest area: Small islands and adjacent shoreline of western Prince of Wales Island from Point Baker to Cape Chacon, but also including Coronation and Warren islands):
(i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering only: May 15-June 30.
(ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
(3) Community of Yakutat (Harvest area: Icy Bay (Icy Cape to Point Riou), and coastal lands and islands bordering the Gulf of Alaska from Point Manby southeast to Dry Bay):
(i) Season: Glaucous-winged gull egg gathering: May 15-June 30.
(ii) Closure: July 1-August 31.
4. Amend subpart D by adding § 92.32 to read as follows:
Upon finding that continuation of these subsistence regulations would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of threatened Steller's eiders