[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 96 (Thursday, May 17, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 29515-29518]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11941]



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Vol. 77

Thursday,

No. 96

May 17, 2012

Part III





 Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 20





Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations for the 2012-13 Hunting Season; Notice of Meetings; 
Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 96 / Thursday, May 17, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2012-0005; FF09M21200-123-FXMB1231099BPP0L2]
RIN 1018-AX97


Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2012-13 Hunting Season; Notice of 
Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental.

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SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), proposed in 
an earlier document to establish annual hunting regulations for certain 
migratory game birds for the 2012-13 hunting season. This supplement to 
the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, announces the 
Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway Council 
meetings, and provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting from 
their March meetings.

DATES: 
    Comments: You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2012-13 duck hunting seasons on or before June 22, 
2012. Following subsequent Federal Register notices, you will be given 
an opportunity to submit comments for proposed early-season frameworks 
by July 27, 2012, and for proposed late-season frameworks and 
subsistence migratory bird seasons in Alaska by August 31, 2012.
    Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will 
meet to consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season 
migratory bird hunting on June 20 and 21, 2012, and for late-season 
migratory bird hunting and the 2013 spring/summer migratory bird 
subsistence seasons in Alaska on July 25 and 26, 2012. All meetings 
will commence at approximately 8:30 a.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of 
the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R9-
MB-2012-0005.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-R9-MB-2012-0005; Division of Policy and Directives 
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 
2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
    We will not accept emailed or faxed comments. We will post all 
comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we 
will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public 
Comments section below for more information).
    Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will 
meet in room 200 of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Arlington 
Square Building, 4401 N. Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron W. Kokel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, Department of the Interior, MS MBSP-4107-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street 
NW., Washington, DC 20240; (703) 358-1714.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Regulations Schedule for 2012

    On April 17, 2012, we published in the Federal Register (77 FR 
23094) a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal provided a 
background and overview of the migratory bird hunting regulations 
process, and addressed the establishment of seasons, limits, and other 
regulations for hunting migratory game birds under Sec. Sec.  20.101 
through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. This document is the 
second in a series of proposed, supplemental, and final rules for 
migratory game bird hunting regulations. We will publish proposed 
early-season frameworks in early July and late-season frameworks in 
early August. We will publish final regulatory frameworks for early 
seasons on or about August 16, 2012, and for late seasons on or about 
September 14, 2012.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet June 20-
21, 2012, to review information on the current status of migratory 
shore and upland game birds and develop 2012-13 migratory game bird 
regulations recommendations for these species, plus regulations for 
migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. 
The Committee will also develop regulations recommendations for 
September waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck 
seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In 
addition, the Committee will review and discuss preliminary information 
on the status of waterfowl.
    At the July 25-26, 2012, meetings, the Committee will review 
information on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2012-13 
migratory game bird regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl 
seasons and other species and seasons not previously discussed at the 
early-season meetings. In addition, the Committee will develop 
recommendations for the 2013 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence 
season in Alaska.
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the individual meetings 
of the four Flyway Councils this July. Although agendas are not yet 
available, these meetings usually commence at 8 a.m. on the days 
indicated.
    Atlantic Flyway Council: July 19-20, Kingsmill Resort, 
Williamsburg, VA.
    Mississippi Flyway Council: July 22-23, Stoney Creek Inn, Peoria, 
IL.
    Central Flyway Council: July 18-19, Econolodge Canmore, Canmore, 
Alberta, Canada.
    Pacific Flyway Council: July 13, Oxford Suites, Spokane, WA.

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking describes Flyway Council recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the April 17, 
2012, Federal Register. We have included only those recommendations 
requiring either new proposals or substantial modification of the 
preliminary proposals and do not include recommendations that simply 
support or oppose preliminary proposals and provide no recommended 
alternatives. Our responses to some Flyway Council recommendations, but 
not others, are merely a clarification aid to the reader on the overall 
regulatory process, not a definitive response to the issue. We will 
publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we develop 
final frameworks.
    We seek additional information and comments on the recommendations 
in this supplemental proposed rule. New proposals and modifications to 
previously described proposals are discussed below. Wherever possible, 
they are discussed under headings corresponding to the numbered items 
identified in the April 17 proposed rule. Only those categories 
requiring your attention or for which we received Flyway Council 
recommendations are discussed below.

1. Ducks

    Duck harvest management categories are: (A) General Harvest 
Strategy; (B) Regulatory Alternatives, including

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specification of framework dates, season length, and bag limits; (C) 
Zones and Split Seasons; and (D) Special Seasons/Species Management.

A. General Harvest Strategy

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
that the Eastern Mallard Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) framework be 
revised on an interim basis for the 2012 and subsequent seasons by 
adopting the model set recently proposed by the Service, and that model 
weights be those derived from a retrospective analysis of breeding 
population changes from 2002-11.
    The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that regulations changes 
be restricted to one step per year, both when restricting as well as 
liberalizing hunting regulations.
    Service Response: As we stated in the April 17 Federal Register, 
the final AHM protocol for the 2012-13 season will be detailed in the 
early-season proposed rule, which will be published in mid-July.

B. Regulatory Alternatives

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi and Central Flyway 
Councils recommended that regulatory alternatives for duck hunting 
seasons remain the same as those used in 2011-12.
    Service Response: As we stated in the April 17 Federal Register, 
the final regulatory alternatives for the 2012-13 season will be 
detailed in the early-season proposed rule, which will be published in 
mid-July.

C. Zones and Split Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils recommended that the Service allow States to submit their 
proposed zone/split changes as follows: States that will use their 
zones for seasons that open before the Saturday nearest September 24 
should submit their zone descriptions by June 1, 2012. States that will 
not use their zones until after the Saturday nearest September 24 
should submit their zone descriptions by July 1, 2012; and by July 1 in 
future years when zones/split season options can be changed.
    Service Response: As we discussed in the April 17 Federal Register, 
last year in an August 26, 2011, Federal Register (75 FR 53536), we 
finalized new guidelines for duck zones and split seasons for use by 
States in setting their seasons for the 2011-15 hunting seasons. We 
also prepared an environmental assessment (EA) on the new zone and 
split season guidelines and provided a brief summary of the anticipated 
impacts of the selected alternative with regard to the guidelines. The 
EA and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) on the revised 
guidelines is available by either writing to the address indicated 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT in the preamble of this proposed 
rule or by viewing on our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds, or at http://www.regulations.gov.
    As part of the implementation of these new guidelines, we stated 
last year that those States that were capable of implementing these new 
guidelines immediately were allowed to do so. However, for those States 
not able to implement changes last year, we were committed to extending 
the current open season into 2012. Thus, we asked then, and again in 
the April 17 proposed rule, that States provide us with any changes to 
their zone and split season configuration by May 1, 2012, for use 
during the 2012-13 season. In an effort to provide additional 
accommodation to Flyways' and States' requests, we will allow States to 
submit their proposed zone/split changes and descriptions by June 15, 
2012; and by June 15 in future years when zones/split season options 
can be changed.

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
increasing the daily bag limit in the Pacific Flyway portion of Wyoming 
from two geese to three geese, and increasing the possession limit from 
four to six birds during the special September season.

B. Regular Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended 
that the framework opening date for all species of geese for the 
regular goose seasons in Michigan and Wisconsin be September 16, 2012.

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Central and Pacific Flyway Councils 
recommend using the 2012 Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) sandhill crane 
harvest allocation of 1,270 birds as proposed in the allocation formula 
using the 3-year running average for 2009-11. The Councils also 
recommended the establishment of a new hunting area for RMP greater 
sandhill crane hunting in Colorado. The Pacific Flyway Council also 
recommended the establishment of the expansion of the hunting areas for 
RMP greater sandhill crane hunting in Arizona and the establishment of 
a new RMP sandhill crane hunt area in Idaho.

16. Mourning Doves

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils recommended use of the ``moderate'' season framework for 
States within the Eastern Management Unit population of mourning doves 
resulting in a 70-day season and 15-bird daily bag limit. The daily bag 
limit could be composed of mourning doves and white-winged doves, 
singly or in combination.
    The Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils recommend the use of 
the standard (or ``moderate'') season package of a 15-bird daily bag 
limit and a 70-day season for the 2012-13 mourning dove season in the 
States within the Central Management Unit. They also recommended that 
the Special White-winged Dove Area be expanded to Interstate Highway 37 
in the 2013-14 season.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended use of the ``moderate'' 
season framework for States in the Western Management Unit (WMU) 
population of doves, which represents no change from last year's 
frameworks.

Public Comments

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written 
comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed 
regulations. Before promulgation of final migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will take into consideration all comments we receive. 
Such comments, and any additional information we receive, may lead to 
final regulations that differ from these proposals.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. We will not 
accept comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in the 
ADDRESSES section. Finally, we will not consider hand-delivered 
comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are not 
postmarked, by the date specified in the DATES section.
    We will post all comments in their entirety--including your 
personal identifying information--on http://www.regulations.gov. Before 
including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal 
identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your 
entire

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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.
    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting 
documentation we used in preparing this proposed rule, will be 
available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Room 4107, 
4501 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203.
    For each series of proposed rulemakings, we will establish specific 
comment periods. We will consider, but possibly may not respond in 
detail to, each comment. As in the past, we will summarize all comments 
we receive during the comment period and respond to them after the 
closing date in any final rules.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    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 
significant because it will have an annual effect of $100 million or 
more on the economy.
    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 
estimated 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. We 
also chose alternative 3 for the 2009-10, the 2010-11, and the 2011-12 
seasons. At this time, we are proposing no changes to the season 
frameworks for the 2012-13 season, and as such, we will again consider 
these three alternatives. However, final frameworks will be dependent 
on population status information available later this year. 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 http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/NewReportsPublications/SpecialTopics/SpecialTopics.html#HuntingRegs or at http://www.regulations.gov at 
Docket No. FWS-R9-MB-2012-0005.
    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.

Other Required Determinations

    Based on our most current data, we are affirming our required 
determinations made in the proposed rule; for descriptions of our 
actions to ensure compliance with the following statutes and Executive 
orders, see our April 17, 2012, proposed rule (77 FR 23094):
     National Environmental Policy Act;
     Endangered Species Act;
     Regulatory Flexibility Act;
     Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act;
     Paperwork Reduction Act;
     Unfunded Mandates Reform Act;
     Executive Orders 12630, 12988, 13175, 13132, and 13211.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

    Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Transportation, Wildlife.

    Authority: The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 
2012-13 hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 
U.S.C. 712, and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: May 9, 2012.
Eileen Sobeck,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-11941 Filed 5-16-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P