[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 68 (Tuesday, April 9, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21199-21210]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-08212]



[[Page 21199]]

Vol. 78

Tuesday,

No. 68

April 9, 2013

Part II





Department of the Interior





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 Fish and Wildlife Service





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50 CFR Part 20





Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2013-14 Migratory Game Bird Hunting 
Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal Proposals and 
Requests for 2015 Spring and Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest 
Proposals in Alaska; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 78 , No. 68 / Tuesday, April 9, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2013-0057; FF09M21200-134-FXMB1231099BPP0]
RIN 1018-AY87


Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2013-14 Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal 
Proposals and Requests for 2015 Spring and Summer Migratory Bird 
Subsistence Harvest Proposals in Alaska

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of supplemental information.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter the Service or 
we) proposes to establish annual hunting regulations for certain 
migratory game birds for the 2013-14 hunting season. We annually 
prescribe outside limits (frameworks) within which States may select 
hunting seasons. This proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, 
describes the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2013-14 duck 
hunting seasons, requests proposals from Indian tribes that wish to 
establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on Federal 
Indian reservations and ceded lands, and requests proposals for the 
2015 spring and summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska. 
Migratory game bird hunting seasons provide opportunities for 
recreation and sustenance; aid Federal, State, and tribal governments 
in the management of migratory game birds; and permit harvests at 
levels compatible with migratory game bird population status and 
habitat conditions.

DATES: You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory alternatives 
for the 2013-14 duck hunting seasons on or before June 22, 2013. 
Following subsequent Federal Register notices, you will be given an 
opportunity to submit comments for proposed early-season frameworks by 
July 27, 2013, and for proposed late-season frameworks and subsistence 
migratory bird seasons in Alaska by August 31, 2013. Tribes must submit 
proposals and related comments on or before June 1, 2013. Proposals 
from the Co-management Council for the 2015 spring and summer migratory 
bird subsistence harvest season must be submitted to the Flyway 
Councils and the Service on or before June 15, 2013.

ADDRESSES: 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-HQ-
MB-2013-0057.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2013-0057; 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).
    Send your proposals for the 2015 spring and summer migratory bird 
subsistence season in Alaska to the Executive Director of the Co-
management Council, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, 
Anchorage, AK 99503; or fax to (907) 786-3306; or email to 
ambcc@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron W. Kokel, at: Division of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, MS MBSP-4107-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 
20240; (703) 358-1714. For information on the migratory bird 
subsistence season in Alaska, contact Donna Dewhurst, (907) 786-3499, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, 
Anchorage, AK 99503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background and Overview

    Migratory game birds are those bird species so designated in 
conventions between the United States and several foreign nations for 
the protection and management of these birds. Under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), the Secretary of the Interior is 
authorized to determine when ``hunting, taking, capture, killing, 
possession, sale, purchase, shipment, transportation, carriage, or 
export of any * * * bird, or any part, nest, or egg'' of migratory game 
birds can take place, and to adopt regulations for this purpose. These 
regulations are written after giving due regard to ``the zones of 
temperature and to the distribution, abundance, economic value, 
breeding habits, and times and lines of migratory flight of such 
birds'' and are updated annually (16 U.S.C. 704(a)). This 
responsibility has been delegated to the Service as the lead Federal 
agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United 
States.
    The Service develops migratory game bird hunting regulations by 
establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag 
limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting. Acknowledging 
regional differences in hunting conditions, the Service has 
administratively divided the Nation into four Flyways for the primary 
purpose of managing migratory game birds. Each Flyway (Atlantic, 
Mississippi, Central, and Pacific) has a Flyway Council, a formal 
organization generally composed of one member from each State and 
Province in that Flyway. The Flyway Councils, established through the 
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA), also 
assist in researching and providing migratory game bird management 
information for Federal, State, and Provincial governments, as well as 
private conservation agencies and the general public.
    The process for adopting migratory game bird hunting regulations, 
located at 50 CFR part 20, is constrained by three primary factors. 
Legal and administrative considerations dictate how long the rulemaking 
process will last. Most importantly, however, the biological cycle of 
migratory game birds controls the timing of data-gathering activities 
and thus the dates on which these results are available for 
consideration and deliberation.
    The process includes two separate regulations-development 
schedules, based on early and late hunting season regulations. Early 
hunting seasons pertain to all migratory game bird species in Alaska, 
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; migratory game birds other 
than waterfowl (i.e., dove, woodcock, etc.); and special early 
waterfowl seasons, such as teal or resident Canada geese. Early hunting 
seasons generally begin before October 1. Late hunting seasons 
generally start on or after October 1 and include most waterfowl 
seasons not already established.
    There are basically no differences in the processes for 
establishing either early or late hunting seasons. For each cycle, 
Service biologists gather, analyze, and interpret biological survey 
data and provide this information to all those involved in the process 
through a series of published status reports and presentations to 
Flyway Councils and other interested parties. Because the Service is 
required to take abundance of migratory game birds and other factors 
into consideration, the Service undertakes a number of surveys 
throughout the year in conjunction with Service Regional Offices, the 
Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and

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Provincial wildlife-management agencies. To determine the appropriate 
frameworks for each species, we consider factors such as population 
size and trend, geographical distribution, annual breeding effort, the 
condition of breeding and wintering habitat, the number of hunters, and 
the anticipated harvest.
    After frameworks, or outside limits, are established for season 
lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting, 
migratory game bird management becomes a cooperative effort of State 
and Federal governments. After Service establishment of final 
frameworks for hunting seasons, the States may select season dates, bag 
limits, and other regulatory options for the hunting seasons. States 
may always be more conservative in their selections than the Federal 
frameworks but never more liberal.

Notice of Intent To Establish Open Seasons

    This document announces our intent to establish open hunting 
seasons and daily bag and possession limits for certain designated 
groups or species of migratory game birds for 2013-14 in the contiguous 
United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, 
under Sec. Sec.  20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K 
of 50 CFR part 20.
    For the 2013-14 migratory game bird hunting season, we will propose 
regulations for certain designated members of the avian families 
Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans); Columbidae (doves and pigeons); 
Gruidae (cranes); Rallidae (rails, coots, moorhens, and gallinules); 
and Scolopacidae (woodcock and snipe). We describe these proposals 
under Proposed 2013-14 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations 
(Preliminary) in this document. We published definitions of waterfowl 
flyways and mourning dove management units, as well as a description of 
the data used in and the factors affecting the regulatory process, in 
the March 14, 1990, Federal Register (55 FR 9618).

Regulatory Schedule for 2013-14

    This document is the first in a series of proposed, supplemental, 
and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. We will publish additional supplemental proposals for 
public comment in the Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, 
and other information become available. Because of the late dates when 
certain portions of these data become available, we anticipate 
abbreviated comment periods on some proposals. Special circumstances 
limit the amount of time we can allow for public comment on these 
regulations.
    Specifically, two considerations compress the time for the 
rulemaking process: the need, on one hand, to establish final rules 
early enough in the summer to allow resource agencies to select and 
publish season dates and bag limits before the beginning of hunting 
seasons and, on the other hand, the lack of current status data on most 
migratory game birds until later in the summer. Because the regulatory 
process is strongly influenced by the times when information is 
available for consideration, we divide the regulatory process into two 
segments: early seasons and late seasons (further described and 
discussed above in the Background and Overview section).
    Major steps in the 2013-14 regulatory cycle relating to open public 
meetings and Federal Register notifications are illustrated in the 
diagram at the end of this proposed rule. All publication dates of 
Federal Register documents are target dates.
    All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining hunting 
frameworks and guidelines are organized under numbered headings. These 
headings are:

1. Ducks
    A. General Harvest Strategy
    B. Regulatory Alternatives
    C. Zones and Split Seasons
    D. Special Seasons/Species Management
    i. September Teal Seasons
    ii. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons
    iii. Black Ducks
    iv. Canvasbacks
    v. Pintails
    vi. Scaup
    vii. Mottled Ducks
    viii. Wood Ducks
    ix. Youth Hunt
    x. Mallard Management Units
    xi. Other
2. Sea Ducks
3. Mergansers
4. Canada Geese
    A. Special Seasons
    B. Regular Seasons
    C. Special Late Seasons
5. White-fronted Geese
6. Brant
7. Snow and Ross's (Light) Geese
8. Swans
9. Sandhill Cranes
10. Coots
11. Moorhens and Gallinules
12. Rails
13. Snipe
14. Woodcock
15. Band-tailed Pigeons
16. Mourning Doves
17. White-winged and White-tipped Doves
18. Alaska
19. Hawaii
20. Puerto Rico
21. Virgin Islands
22. Falconry
23. Other

    Later sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to 
numbered items requiring your 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.
    We will publish final regulatory alternatives for the 2013-14 duck 
hunting seasons in mid-July. We will publish proposed early season 
frameworks in mid-July and late season frameworks in mid-August. We 
will publish final regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about 
August 16, 2013, and those for late seasons on or about September 14, 
2013.

Request for 2015 Spring and Summer Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest 
Proposals in Alaska

Background

    The 1916 Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds between 
the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) established a closed 
season for the taking of migratory birds between March 10 and September 
1. Residents of northern Alaska and Canada traditionally harvested 
migratory birds for nutritional purposes during the spring and summer 
months. The 1916 Convention and the subsequent 1936 Mexico Convention 
for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Game Mammals provide for the 
legal subsistence harvest of migratory birds and their eggs in Alaska 
and Canada during the closed season by indigenous inhabitants.
    On August 16, 2002, we published in the Federal Register (67 FR 
53511) a final rule that established procedures for incorporating 
subsistence management into the continental migratory bird management 
program. These regulations, developed under a new co-management process 
involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and 
Alaska Native representatives, established an annual procedure to 
develop harvest guidelines for implementation of a spring and summer 
migratory bird subsistence harvest. Eligibility and inclusion 
requirements necessary to participate in the spring and summer 
migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska are outlined in 50 CFR part 
92.
    This proposed rule calls for proposals for regulations that will 
expire on August 31, 2015, for the spring and summer subsistence 
harvest of migratory birds in Alaska. Each year, seasons will open on 
or after March 11 and close before September 1.

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Alaska Spring and Summer Subsistence Harvest Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of the Alaska spring and summer subsistence 
harvest proposals in later Federal Register documents under 50 CFR part 
92. The general relationship to the process for developing national 
hunting regulations for migratory game birds is as follows:
    (a) Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. The public may 
submit proposals to the Co-management Council during the period of 
November 1-December 15, 2013, to be acted upon for the 2015 migratory 
bird subsistence harvest season. Proposals should be submitted to the 
Executive Director of the Co-management Council, listed above under the 
caption ADDRESSES.
    (b) Flyway Councils.
    (1) The Co-management Council will submit proposed 2015 regulations 
to all Flyway Councils for review and comment. The Council's 
recommendations must be submitted before the Service Regulations 
Committee's last regular meeting of the calendar year in order to be 
approved for spring and summer harvest beginning April 2 of the 
following calendar year.
    (2) Alaska Native representatives may be appointed by the Co-
management Council to attend meetings of one or more of the four Flyway 
Councils to discuss recommended regulations or other proposed 
management actions.
    (c) Service Regulations Committee. The Co-management Council will 
submit proposed annual regulations to the Service Regulations Committee 
(SRC) for their review and recommendation to the Service Director. 
Following the Service Director's review and recommendation, the 
proposals will be forwarded to the Department of the Interior for 
approval. Proposed annual regulations will then be published in the 
Federal Register for public review and comment, similar to the annual 
migratory game bird hunting regulations. Final spring and summer 
regulations for Alaska will be published in the Federal Register in the 
preceding winter after review and consideration of any public comments 
received.
    Because of the time required for review by us and the public, 
proposals from the Co-management Council for the 2015 spring and summer 
migratory bird subsistence harvest season must be submitted to the 
Flyway Councils and the Service by June 15, 2014, for Council comments 
and Service action at the late-season SRC meeting.

Review of Public Comments

    This proposed rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2013-14 duck hunting seasons. This proposed 
rulemaking also describes other recommended changes or specific 
preliminary proposals that vary from the 2012-13 final frameworks (see 
August 30, 2012, Federal Register (77 FR 53118) for early seasons and 
September 20, 2012, Federal Register (77 FR 58444) for late seasons) 
and issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of the 
States or tribes. We will publish responses to all proposals and 
written comments when we develop final frameworks for the 2013-14 
season. We seek additional information and comments on this proposed 
rule.

Consolidation of Notices

    For administrative purposes, this document consolidates the notice 
of intent to establish open migratory game bird hunting seasons, the 
request for tribal proposals, and the request for Alaska migratory bird 
subsistence seasons with the preliminary proposals for the annual 
hunting regulations-development process. We will publish the remaining 
proposed and final rulemaking documents separately. For inquiries on 
tribal guidelines and proposals, tribes should contact the following 
personnel:
    Region 1 (Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and the Pacific 
Islands)--Nanette Seto, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 N.E. 11th 
Avenue, Portland, OR 97232-4181; (503) 231-6164.
    Region 2 (Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas)--Greg Hughes, 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103; 
(505) 248-7885.
    Region 3 (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, 
Ohio, and Wisconsin)--Jane West, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
Federal Building, One Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056; 
(612) 713-5432.
    Region 4 (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, South 
Carolina, and Tennessee)--E. J. Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, 1875 Century Boulevard, Room 324, Atlanta, GA 30345; (404) 
679-4000.
    Region 5 (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, 
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, 
Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia)--Chris Dwyer, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 300 Westgate Center Drive, Hadley, MA 01035-9589; 
(413) 253-8576.
    Region 6 (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South 
Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming)--Casey Stemler, U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Building, Denver, CO 80225; 
(303) 236-8145.
    Region 7 (Alaska)--Pete Probasco, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 
1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK 99503; (907) 786-3423.
    Region 8 (California and Nevada)--Marie Strassburger, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1846; (916) 
414-6727.

Requests for Tribal Proposals

Background

    Beginning with the 1985-86 hunting season, we have employed 
guidelines described in the June 4, 1985, Federal Register (50 FR 
23467) to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on 
Federal Indian reservations (including off-reservation trust lands) and 
ceded lands. We developed these guidelines in response to tribal 
requests for our recognition of their reserved hunting rights, and for 
some tribes, recognition of their authority to regulate hunting by both 
tribal and nontribal members throughout their reservations. The 
guidelines include possibilities for:
    (1) On-reservation hunting by both tribal and nontribal members, 
with hunting by nontribal members on some reservations to take place 
within Federal frameworks, but on dates different from those selected 
by the surrounding State(s);
    (2) On-reservation hunting by tribal members only, outside of usual 
Federal frameworks for season dates and length, and for daily bag and 
possession limits; and
    (3) Off-reservation hunting by tribal members on ceded lands, 
outside of usual framework dates and season length, with some added 
flexibility in daily bag and possession limits.
    In all cases, tribal regulations established under the guidelines 
must be consistent with the annual March 10 to September 1 closed 
season mandated by the 1916 Convention Between the United States and 
Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds 
(Convention). The guidelines are applicable to those tribes that have 
reserved hunting rights on Federal Indian reservations (including off-
reservation trust lands) and ceded lands. They also may be applied to 
the establishment of migratory game bird hunting regulations for 
nontribal members on all lands within the exterior boundaries of 
reservations where tribes have full wildlife management authority over 
such hunting, or where the tribes and affected States otherwise have 
reached

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agreement over hunting by nontribal members on non-Indian lands.
    Tribes usually have the authority to regulate migratory game bird 
hunting by nonmembers on Indian-owned reservation lands, subject to our 
approval. The question of jurisdiction is more complex on reservations 
that include lands owned by non-Indians, especially when the 
surrounding States have established or intend to establish regulations 
governing migratory bird hunting by non-Indians on these lands. In such 
cases, we encourage the tribes and States to reach agreement on 
regulations that would apply throughout the reservations. When 
appropriate, we will consult with a tribe and State with the aim of 
facilitating an accord. We also will consult jointly with tribal and 
State officials in the affected States where tribes may wish to 
establish special hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded 
lands. It is incumbent upon the tribe and/or the State to request 
consultation as a result of the proposal being published in the Federal 
Register. We will not presume to make a determination, without being 
advised by either a tribe or a State, that any issue is or is not 
worthy of formal consultation.
    One of the guidelines provides for the continuation of tribal 
members' harvest of migratory game birds on reservations where such 
harvest is a customary practice. We do not oppose this harvest, 
provided it does not take place during the closed season required by 
the Convention, and it is not so large as to adversely affect the 
status of the migratory game bird resource. Since the inception of 
these guidelines, we have reached annual agreement with tribes for 
migratory game bird hunting by tribal members on their lands or on 
lands where they have reserved hunting rights. We will continue to 
consult with tribes that wish to reach a mutual agreement on hunting 
regulations for on-reservation hunting by tribal members.
    Tribes should not view the guidelines as inflexible. We believe 
that they provide appropriate opportunity to accommodate the reserved 
hunting rights and management authority of Indian tribes while also 
ensuring that the migratory game bird resource receives necessary 
protection. The conservation of this important international resource 
is paramount. Use of the guidelines is not required if a tribe wishes 
to observe the hunting regulations established by the State(s) in which 
the reservation is located.

Details Needed in Tribal Proposals

    Tribes that wish to use the guidelines to establish special hunting 
regulations for the 2013-14 migratory game bird hunting season should 
submit a proposal that includes:
    (1) The requested migratory game bird hunting season dates and 
other details regarding the proposed regulations;
    (2) Harvest anticipated under the proposed regulations;
    (3) Methods employed to monitor harvest (mail-questionnaire survey, 
bag checks, etc.);
    (4) Steps that will be taken to limit level of harvest, where it 
could be shown that failure to limit such harvest would seriously 
impact the migratory game bird resource; and
    (5) Tribal capabilities to establish and enforce migratory game 
bird hunting regulations.
    A tribe that desires the earliest possible opening of the migratory 
game bird season for nontribal members should specify this request in 
its proposal, rather than request a date that might not be within the 
final Federal frameworks. Similarly, unless a tribe wishes to set more 
restrictive regulations than Federal regulations will permit for 
nontribal members, the proposal should request the same daily bag and 
possession limits and season length for migratory game birds that 
Federal regulations are likely to permit the States in the Flyway in 
which the reservation is located.

Tribal Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of tribal proposals for public review in 
later Federal Register documents. Because of the time required for 
review by us and the public, Indian tribes that desire special 
migratory game bird hunting regulations for the 2013-14 hunting season 
should submit their proposals as soon as possible, but no later than 
June 1, 2013.
    Tribes should direct inquiries regarding the guidelines and 
proposals to the appropriate Service Regional Office listed above under 
the caption Consolidation of Notices. Tribes that request special 
migratory game bird hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded 
lands should send a courtesy copy of the proposal to officials in the 
affected State(s).

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 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.

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 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

[[Page 21204]]

31341). In addition, an August 1985 environmental assessment entitled 
``Guidelines for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on Federal Indian 
Reservations and Ceded Lands'' is available from the address indicated 
under the caption FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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 (SEIS) 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). We 
released the draft SEIS on July 9, 2010 (75 FR 39577). The draft SEIS 
is available either by writing to the address indicated under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or by viewing our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Before issuance of the 2013-14 migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will comply with provisions of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; hereinafter the Act), to 
ensure that hunting is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of any species designated as endangered or threatened or modify or 
destroy its critical habitat and is consistent with conservation 
programs for those species. Consultations under section 7 of the Act 
may cause us to change proposals in this and future supplemental 
proposed rulemaking documents.

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. OIRA has 
reviewed this rule and has determined that this rule is significant 
because it would have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the 
economy.
    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.
    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 2012-13 
seasons. At this time, we are proposing no changes to the season 
frameworks for the 2013-14 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.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2013-0057.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The annual migratory bird hunting 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 
Division of Migratory Bird Management (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT) or from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/NewReportsPublications/SpecialTopics/SpecialTopics.html#HuntingRegs or 
at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2013-0057.

Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the 
Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain 
language. This means that each rule we publish must:
    (a) Be logically organized;
    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;
    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;
    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and
    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.
    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us 
comments by one of the methods listed in the ADDRESSES section. To 
better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as 
possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections 
or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences 
are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be 
useful, etc.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This proposed 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 would have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more. However, because this rule would establish hunting 
seasons, we do not plan to defer the effective date under the exemption 
contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    We examined these proposed 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 
4/30/2014). This

[[Page 21205]]

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 4/30/2013). 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 
proposed rulemaking would 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 proposed rule, has determined 
that this proposed rule will not unduly burden the judicial system and 
that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of 
Executive Order 12988.

Takings Implication Assessment

    In accordance with Executive Order 12630, this proposed 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 would not result in the physical occupancy 
of property, the physical invasion of property, or the regulatory 
taking of any property. In fact, these rules would 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 proposed 
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 this proposed rule, we solicit proposals for 
special migratory bird hunting regulations for certain Tribes on 
Federal Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded 
lands for the 2013-14 migratory bird hunting season. The resulting 
proposals will be contained in a separate proposed rule. 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 impact summary statement.

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 2013-14 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: March 25, 2013.
Michael J. Bean,
Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

Proposed 2013-14 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary)

    Pending current information on populations, harvest, and habitat 
conditions, and receipt of recommendations from the four Flyway 
Councils, we may defer specific regulatory proposals. No changes from 
the final 2012-13 frameworks established on August 30 and September 20, 
2012 (77 FR 53118 and 77 FR 58444) are being proposed at this time. 
Other issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of 
the States or tribes are contained below:

1. Ducks

    Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest 
management are: (A) General Harvest Strategy, (B) Regulatory 
Alternatives, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special Seasons/
Species Management. Only those containing substantial recommendations 
are discussed below.

A. General Harvest Strategy

    We propose to continue using adaptive harvest management (AHM) to 
help determine appropriate duck-hunting regulations for the 2013-14 
season. AHM permits sound resource decisions in the face of uncertain 
regulatory impacts and provides a mechanism for reducing that 
uncertainty over time. We use AHM to evaluate four alternative 
regulatory levels for duck hunting based on the population status of 
mallards. (We enact special hunting restrictions for species of special 
concern, such as canvasbacks, scaup, and pintails).
Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways
    Until 2008, we based the prescribed regulatory alternative for the 
Pacific, Central, and Mississippi Flyways on the status of mallards and 
breeding-habitat conditions in central North America (Federal survey 
strata 1-18, 20-50, and 75-77, and State surveys in Minnesota, 
Wisconsin, and Michigan). In 2008, we based hunting regulations upon 
the breeding stock that contributes primarily to each Flyway. In the 
Pacific Flyway, we set hunting regulations based on the status and 
dynamics of a newly defined stock of ``western'' mallards. Western 
mallards are those breeding in Alaska and the northern Yukon Territory 
(as based on Federal surveys in strata 1-12), and in California and 
Oregon (as based on State-conducted surveys). In the Central and

[[Page 21206]]

Mississippi Flyways, we set hunting regulations based on the status and 
dynamics of mid-continent mallards. Mid-continent mallards are those 
breeding in central North America not included in the Western mallard 
stock, as defined above.
    For the 2013-14 season, we recommend continuing to use independent 
optimization to determine the optimum regulations. This means that we 
would develop regulations for mid-continent mallards and western 
mallards independently, based upon the breeding stock that contributes 
primarily to each Flyway. We detailed implementation of this new AHM 
decision framework in the July 24, 2008, Federal Register (73 FR 
43290).
Atlantic Flyway
    Since 2000, we have prescribed a regulatory alternative for the 
Atlantic Flyway annually using an eastern mallard AHM decision 
framework that is based on the population status of mallards breeding 
in eastern North America (Federal survey strata 51-54 and 56, and State 
surveys in New England and the mid-Atlantic region). We recommend 
continuation of the AHM process for the 2013-14 season.
    Last year, we proposed and subsequently implemented several changes 
related to the population models used in the eastern mallard AHM 
protocol. For the benefit of the reader, we reiterate those changes 
implemented here. Until last year, the AHM process used to set harvest 
regulations for eastern mallards was based on an objective of 
maximizing long-term cumulative harvest and using predictions from six 
population models representing different hypotheses about the 
recruitment process and sources of bias in population predictions. The 
Atlantic Flyway Council and the Service evaluated the performance of 
the model set used to support eastern mallard AHM and found that the 
then current models used to predict survival (as a function of harvest) 
and recruitment (as a function of breeding population size) did not 
perform adequately, resulting in a consistent over-prediction of 
mallard population size in most years. Consequently, we stated then 
that we believed it was necessary to update those population models 
with more contemporary survival and recruitment information and revised 
hypotheses about the key factors affecting eastern mallard population 
dynamics. Further, the Flyway is also reconsidering harvest management 
objectives and assessing the spatial designation of the eastern mallard 
breeding population. Recognizing that the development of a fully 
revised AHM protocol would likely take several years to complete, we 
developed a revised model set to inform eastern mallard harvest 
decisions until all of the updates to the eastern mallard AHM protocol 
are completed. We propose to again use this model set to inform eastern 
mallard harvest regulations until a fully revised AHM protocol is 
finalized. Further details on the revised models and results of 
simulations of this interim harvest policy are available on our Web 
site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds, or at http://www.regulations.gov.
Final 2013-14 AHM Protocol
    We will detail the final AHM protocol for the 2013-14 season in the 
early-season proposed rule, which we will publish in mid-July (see 
Schedule of Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications at 
the end of this proposed rule for further information). We will propose 
a specific regulatory alternative for each of the Flyways during the 
2013-14 season after survey information becomes available in late 
summer. More information on AHM is located at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/CurrentBirdIssues/Management/AHM/AHM-intro.htm.

B. Regulatory Alternatives

    The basic structure of the current regulatory alternatives for AHM 
was adopted in 1997. In 2002, based upon recommendations from the 
Flyway Councils, we extended framework dates in the ``moderate'' and 
``liberal'' regulatory alternatives by changing the opening date from 
the Saturday nearest October 1 to the Saturday nearest September 24; 
and changing the closing date from the Sunday nearest January 20 to the 
last Sunday in January. These extended dates were made available with 
no associated penalty in season length or bag limits. At that time we 
stated our desire to keep these changes in place for 3 years to allow 
for a reasonable opportunity to monitor the impacts of framework-date 
extensions on harvest distribution and rates of harvest before 
considering any subsequent use (67 FR 12501; March 19, 2002).
    For 2013-14, we are proposing to maintain the same regulatory 
alternatives that were in effect last year (see accompanying table for 
specifics of the proposed regulatory alternatives). Alternatives are 
specified for each Flyway and are designated as ``RES'' for the 
restrictive, ``MOD'' for the moderate, and ``LIB'' for the liberal 
alternative. We will announce final regulatory alternatives in mid-
July. We will accept public comments until June 22, 2013, and you 
should send your comments to an address listed under the caption 
ADDRESSES.

D. Special Seasons/Species Management

i. September Teal Seasons
    In 2009, we agreed to allow an additional 7 days during the special 
September teal season in the Atlantic Flyway (74 FR 43009). In 
addition, we requested that a new assessment of the cumulative effects 
of all teal harvest, including harvest during special September seasons 
be conducted. Furthermore, we indicated that we would not agree to any 
further modifications of special September teal seasons or other 
special September duck seasons until a thorough assessment of the 
harvest potential had been completed for both blue-winged and green-
winged teal, as well as an assessment of the impacts of current special 
September seasons on these two species. Cinnamon teal were subsequently 
included in this assessment.
    We recognize the long-standing interest by the Flyway Councils to 
pursue additional teal harvest opportunity, and the final report of the 
working group indicates that additional opportunity likely can be 
supported by at least some of the teal species. However, we note that 
the working group was not charged with assessing how additional harvest 
opportunity could be provided. Last year, we indicated our willingness 
to work with the Flyways to explore ways to provide that opportunity. 
Previous attempts at providing additional teal harvest opportunity have 
included special September teal seasons, provision of bonus teal during 
the regular season, September duck seasons (e.g. Iowa), and September 
teal/wood duck seasons. Past Service policy has discontinued the use of 
September teal seasons in production States, eliminated bonus teal 
options, and limited the use of September duck seasons to the State of 
Iowa. Furthermore, September teal/wood duck seasons are limited to 
Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Based on these past actions and 
assessments that supported them, we believe that the Flyways would need 
to provide some compelling new information to warrant reconsideration 
of these approaches. However, we recognize such reconsideration may be 
warranted and look forward to further dialogue with the Flyways on what 
method or methods might be best employed to take advantage of the 
additional teal harvest

[[Page 21207]]

potential documented by our joint assessment.
    Also, we believe that substantial technical work will still need to 
be completed by the Flyways and the Service before such opportunities 
can be offered. Furthermore, we believe a comprehensive approach should 
be taken and that any expansion of teal opportunities should be treated 
on an experimental basis with the requirement they be fully evaluated 
in a geographically comprehensive manner and be coordinated within and 
among Flyways, including consideration of teal harvest allocation. 
Lastly, our long standing policy regarding harvest strategies has been 
to review and approve any new, or changes to existing, plans prior to 
any SRC meeting discussing potential implementation of the strategy. We 
do not believe the complex technical work required can be completed and 
vetted with all four flyways during the 2013-14 regulatory cycle in 
accordance with this policy prior to any discussion of potential 
implementation of the strategy for the 2013-14 season.
    As we have previously stated, teal harvest evaluation plans must 
include study objectives, experimental design, decision criteria, and 
identification of data needs. The evaluation plan should address not 
only potential impacts to teal populations, but also impacts to non-
target species and the ability of hunters to comply with special teal 
regulations. Any expansion of teal opportunities should be limited to 
teal and not expanded to include other species, as has been contained 
in previous Flyway Council proposals. Further, because of the 
historical differences between northern and southern States regarding 
how teal harvest regulations have been provided, we expect that 
reaching broad-based agreement on issues such as management objectives, 
appropriate regulatory alternatives, and models to be used to predict 
the effects of the regulatory alternatives on the status of the 
impacted teal species will take a substantial amount of time and effort 
by both the Flyways and the Service. We are willing to work with the 
Flyway Councils to collaboratively develop the evaluation framework.
    A copy of the working groups' final report is available on our Web 
site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds, or at http://www.regulations.gov.
vi. Scaup
    In 2008, we implemented an AHM decision-making framework to inform 
scaup harvest regulations (73 FR 43290; July 24, 2008). At that time, 
restrictive, moderate, and liberal scaup regulatory alternatives were 
defined and implemented in all four Flyways according to guidelines 
established in 2007 (see http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/NewReportsPublications/SpecialTopics/BySpecies/scaup_regs_scoping_draftVI.pdf or www.regulations.gov for a copy of the guidelines). 
Subsequent comment from the Flyway Councils led us to further clarify 
criteria associated with the establishment of ``hybrid seasons'' (74 FR 
16339; April 10, 2009) and to allow additional modifications of the 
alternatives for each Flyway. The resulting updated regulatory 
alternatives were then adopted on July 24, 2009 (74 FR 36870) for use 
during the 2009-10 season. Because of the considerable uncertainty 
involved with predicting scaup harvest, we agreed with the Flyways to 
keep these packages in place for at least 3 years. Since we now have 
scaup harvest information available for the first 3 years of the new 
packages (2009-11 seasons), Flyways have the option to make changes to 
the scaup regulatory alternatives for the 2013-14 season consistent 
with the process and evaluation criteria finalized in 2008 and 
clarified in 2009.

4. Canada Geese

B. Regular Seasons

    In 2011, we denied a request by the Central Flyway Council to 
increase the bag limit of Canada geese from 3 to 5 in the East-Tier 
States during the regular season. At that time, we stated that because 
the birds impacted by this regulations change, the Tall Grass Prairie 
(TGP) population, was shared with the Mississippi Flyway, progress 
needed to be made regarding revising the TGP management plan (76 FR 
58682; September 21, 2011). At a minimum, agreement between the two 
Flyways on management objectives must be reached.
    Last year, the Central Flyway Council again requested an increase 
in the daily bag limit of Canada geese from 3 to 5 in the East-Tier 
States during the regular season. Based on discussions at the meetings, 
we stated it was apparent that the dialogue between the Flyways had 
just begun, and that progress on developing agreed-upon objectives and 
the plan revision was limited (77 FR 58448; September 20, 2012). Thus, 
we did not approve the Council's recommendation.
    At the February 6, 2013, SRC meeting, the Central Flyway indicated 
that technical representatives from the two Flyways had been working on 
a revised management plan for the TGP since last fall, and expects that 
the new plan be adopted during upcoming March Flyway Council meetings. 
If the two Flyways can reach agreement on objectives for the TGP during 
this regulations cycle, we would consider a new recommendation by the 
Central Flyway Council to increase the bag limit on Canada geese in the 
East Tier States during the regular Canada goose season.

16. Mourning Doves

    In 2003, all four Flyway Councils approved the Mourning Dove 
National Strategic Harvest Plan (Plan). The Plan represented a new, 
more informed means of decision-making for dove harvest management 
besides relying solely on traditional roadside counts of mourning doves 
as indicators of population trend. However, recognizing that a more 
comprehensive, national approach would take time to develop, we 
requested the development of interim harvest strategies, by management 
unit, until the elements of the Plan could be fully implemented. In 
2004, each management unit submitted its respective strategy, but the 
strategies used different datasets and different approaches or methods. 
After initial submittal and review in 2006, we requested that the 
strategies be revised, using similar, existing datasets among the 
management units along with similar decision-making criteria. In 2008, 
we accepted and endorsed the interim mourning dove harvest strategies 
for the Central, Eastern, and Western Management Units (73 FR 50678; 
August 27, 2008). In 2009, the interim harvest strategies were 
successfully employed and implemented in all three Management Units (74 
FR 36870; July 24, 2009). For the 2013-14 season, we propose continuing 
to use the interim harvest strategies to determine mourning dove 
hunting regulations.
    Since 2003, much progress has been made on the development of a 
National Mourning Dove harvest strategy which makes use of new 
monitoring data and demographics models. We hope to discuss and approve 
the new national mourning dove harvest strategy at the June SRC 
meeting. A copy of the new strategy is available at available on our 
Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds, or at http://www.regulations.gov.

23. Other

    In the September 23, 2010, Federal Register (75 FR 58250), we 
stated that we were generally supportive of the Flyways' interest in 
increasing the possession limits for migratory game

[[Page 21208]]

birds and appreciated the discussions to frame this important issue. At 
that time, we also stated that we believed there were many unanswered 
questions regarding how this interest could be fully articulated in a 
proposal that satisfies the harvest management community, while 
fostering the support of the law enforcement community and informing 
the general hunting public. Thus, we proposed the creation of a cross-
agency Working Group, chaired by the Service, and comprised of staff 
from the Service's Migratory Bird Program, State Wildlife Agency 
representatives, and Federal and State law enforcement staff, to begin 
to frame a recommendation that fully articulates a potential change in 
possession limits. This effort would include a discussion of the 
current status and use of possession limits, which populations and/or 
species/species groups should not be included in any proposed 
modification of possession limits, potential law enforcement issues, 
and a reasonable timeline for the implementation of any such proposed 
changes.
    After discussions last year at the January SRC meeting and March 
and July Flyway Council meetings, the Atlantic, Central, and Pacific 
Flyway Councils recommended that the Service increase the possession 
limit from 2 times to 3 times the daily bag limit for all migratory 
game bird species and seasons except for those species that currently 
have possession limits of less than 2 times the daily bag limit (e.g., 
rails), permit hunts (e.g., cranes and swans), and for overabundant 
species for which no current possession limits are assigned (e.g., 
light geese), beginning in the 2013-14 season (77 FR 58444; September 
20, 2012). These recommendations from the three Councils are one such 
outgrowth of the efforts started in 2010, and we look forward to 
additional input from the Mississippi Flyway Council. Once we receive 
the Mississippi Flyway Council's input, we plan to discuss these 
recommendations with the Working Group and present recommendations to 
the SRC this spring. We would present any resulting proposal for the 
SRC's consideration at the June SRC meeting (see 2013 Schedule of 
Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications at the end of 
this proposed rule for further information), with proposed 
implementation during the 2013-14 hunting seasons.
    Additionally, when our initial review of possession limits was 
instituted in 2010, we also realized that any review of possession 
limits could not be adequately conducted without expanding the initial 
review to include possession and possession-related regulations. In 
particular, it was our belief that any potential increase in the 
possession limits should be done in concert with a review and update of 
the wanton waste regulations in 50 CFR 20.25. We believed it prudent to 
review some of the long-standing sources of confusion (for both hunters 
and law enforcement) regarding wanton waste. A review of the current 
Federal wanton waste regulations, along with various State wanton waste 
regulations, has been recently completed and we anticipate publishing a 
proposed rule this spring/summer to revise 50 CFR 20.25.
    Lastly, we also recognize that there are other important issues 
surrounding possession, such as termination of possession, that need to 
be reviewed. However, that review is a much larger and more complex 
review than the wanton waste regulations and the possession limit 
regulations. We anticipate starting that review upon completion of the 
wanton waste and possession limits aspects of our overall review.
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