[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 58 (Monday, March 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 17353-17359]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-7199]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 92

[Docket No. FWS-R7-MB-2011-0090; FF09M21200-123-FXMB1231099BPP0L2]
RIN 1018-AX55


Migratory Bird Subsistence Harvest in Alaska; Harvest Regulations 
for Migratory Birds in Alaska During the 2012 Season

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) establishes 
migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2012 
season. These regulations will 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 regulations were developed under a co-management process 
involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and 
Alaska Native representatives. The rulemaking is necessary because the 
regulations governing the subsistence harvest of migratory birds in 
Alaska are subject to

[[Page 17354]]

annual review. This rulemaking establishes region-specific regulations 
that go into effect on April 2, 2012, and expire on August 31, 2012.

DATES: The amendments to subpart D of 50 CFR part 92 are effective 
April 2, 2012, through August 31, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Fred Armstrong, (907) 786-3887, or 
Donna Dewhurst, (907) 786-3499, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 E. 
Tudor Road, Mail Stop 201, Anchorage, AK 99503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: These regulations will take effect less than 
30 days after publication. If there were a delay in the effective date 
of these regulations after this final rulemaking, subsistence hunters 
would not be able to take full advantage of their subsistence hunting 
opportunities. We therefore find that ``good cause'' exists justifying 
the earlier start date, within the terms of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the 
Administrative Procedure Act, and, under authority of the Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act (July 3, 1918), as amended (16 U.S.C. 703-711).

Why is this rulemaking necessary?

    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 establishes regulations for the taking of migratory 
birds for subsistence uses in Alaska during the spring and summer of 
2012. This rule establishes a list of migratory bird season openings 
and closures in Alaska by region.

How do I find the history of these regulations?

    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 Federal Register on August 16, 2002 (67 FR 53511) and most 
recently on March 29, 2011 (76 FR 17353). Recent Federal Register 
documents, which are all final rules setting forth the annual harvest 
regulations, are available at http://alaska.fws.gov/ambcc/regulations.htm or by contacting one of the people listed under FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

What is the process for issuing regulations for the Subsistence Harvest 
of Migratory Birds in Alaska?

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) are establishing 
migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2012 
season. These regulations 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 final regulations were developed under a co-management 
process involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 
and Alaska Native representatives.
    We opened the process to establish regulations for the 2012 spring 
and summer subsistence harvest of migratory birds in Alaska in a 
proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 8, 2011 (76 FR 
19876). While that proposed rule dealt primarily with the regulatory 
process for hunting migratory birds for all purposes throughout the 
United States, we also discussed the background and history of Alaska 
subsistence regulations, explained the annual process for their 
establishment, and requested proposals for the 2012 season. The 
rulemaking processes for both types of migratory bird harvest are 
related, and the April 8, 2011, proposed rule explained the connection 
between the two.
    The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council (Co-management 
Council) held a meeting in June 2011, to develop recommendations for 
changes that would take effect during the 2012 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 27 
and 28, 2011.
    On November 3, 2011, we published in the Federal Register (76 FR 
68264) a proposed rule that provided our proposed migratory bird 
subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2012 season. 
Regulations presented in that proposed rule were identical to those for 
the 2011 harvest season.

Who is eligible to hunt under these regulations?

    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 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.

What is different in the region-specific regulations for 2012?

    Regulations finalized in this rule are identical to those for the 
2011 harvest season. However, at the June 2, 2011, Co-Management 
Council meeting, the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta and Kodiak Archipelago 
regional representatives requested to remove their respective regions 
from 2012 regulations by not approving the consent agenda. Annually, 
the migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska is closed until 
regulations are passed that open the upcoming season. If regulations do 
not change from year to year, the 11 Alaska regions opt to vote a 
consent agenda whereby regulations from the previous year (2011) are 
accepted for the following year (2012).
    The justification provided at the Co-Management Council Meeting by 
the Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta representative was that the region could not 
support regulations that included the duck stamp requirement. The 
representative indicated that there was a conflict in the application 
of other federal requirements to the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-
Management Council (AMBCC) regulations and that the Federal

[[Page 17355]]

Government does not take into consideration other Native laws that 
could apply to the regulatory program. The representative also 
indicated that there is widespread opposition to the Federal duck stamp 
requirement and that he does not support any regulation requiring the 
Federal duck stamp to hunt waterfowl.
    The justification provided by the Kodiak Archipelago representative 
was that the Kodiak Island representative expressed concerns that he 
was not familiar with the AMBCC process and was not familiar with the 
history of the regional regulations. The Kodiak Archipelago 
representative indicated that, based on discussions with local elders, 
they are not supportive of the closure areas or dates and could not 
support them. He indicated that there is egg gathering in the Kodiak 
Island region and that was another reason why he could not support a 
closure that would stop that activity.
    After the Co-Management Council meeting, the Alaska Regional 
Director and his staff contacted both regional representatives to 
inform them that the Service Regulations Committee would have to 
implement regulations to provide harvest opportunities for subsistence 
users who take migratory birds in those areas and elsewhere. The 
Service Regulations Committee met on July 28, 2011, and does not 
support the lack of subsistence regulations in the Yukon/Kuskokwim and 
Kodiak Archipelago Regions. Therefore, the Service is continuing the 
2011 regulations for those two regions through the 2012 season without 
change. Justification to finalize these regulations is to provide a 
continuity of the regulations affecting subsistence harvesters in those 
areas.

How will the service ensure that the subsistence harvest will not raise 
overall migratory bird harvest or threaten the conservation of 
endangered and threatened species?

    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.

Spectacled and Steller's Eiders

    Spectacled eiders (Somateria fischeri) and the Alaska-breeding 
population of Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri) are listed as 
threatened species; their migration and breeding distribution overlap 
with areas where the spring and summer subsistence migratory bird hunt 
is open in Alaska. Both species are closed to hunting, although harvest 
surveys and Service documentation indicate both species have been taken 
in several regions of Alaska.
    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 sufficient recognition is given to the need 
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 Steller's eider mortality.
    This final rule continues to focus on the North Slope from Barrow 
through Point Hope because Steller's eiders from the listed Alaska 
breeding population are known to breed and migrate there. These 
regulations were designed to address several ongoing eider management 
needs by clarifying for subsistence users that (1) Service law 
enforcement personnel have authority to verify species of birds 
possessed by hunters, and (2) it is illegal to possess any bird closed 
to harvest. This rule also describes how the Service's existing 
authority of emergency closure will be implemented, if necessary, to 
protect Steller's eiders. We are always willing to discuss regulations 
with our partners on the North Slope to ensure these protect closed 
species as well as provide subsistence hunters an opportunity to 
harvest migratory birds in a way that maintains the culture and 
traditional harvest of the community. The regulations pertaining to bag 
checks and possession of illegal birds are deemed necessary to verify 
compliance with not harvesting protected eider species.
    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 
with the first significant breeding season in recent years for 
Steller's eiders occurring in the Barrow area this past summer. 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 will be used to evaluate 
the efficacy of regulations, conservation measures, and outreach 
efforts. During 2009 through 2011, 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 2011 conservation measures will also be continued, 
although there will be some modification of the amount of effort and 
emphasis each will 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 2 years, would clarify that we will 
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 will 
evaluate each mortality event by criteria such as cause, quantity, sex, 
age, location, and date. We will consult with

[[Page 17356]]

the Co-management Council when we are considering an emergency closure. 
If we determine that an emergency closure is necessary, we will design 
it to minimize its impact on the subsistence harvest.

Yellow-Billed Loon And Kittlitz's Murrelet

    Yellow-billed loon (Gavia adamsii) and Kittlitz's murrelet 
(Brachyramphus brevirostris) are candidate species for listing under 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). Their migration and breeding distribution overlaps with where 
the spring and summer migratory bird hunt is open in Alaska. Both 
species are closed to hunting, and there is no evidence Kittlitz's 
murrelets are harvested. On the other hand, harvest surveys have 
indicated that harvest of yellow-billed loons on the North Slope and 
St. Lawrence Island does occur. Most of the yellow-billed loons 
reported harvested on the North Slope were found to be entangled loons 
salvaged from subsistence fishing nets as described below. The Service 
will continue outreach efforts in both areas in 2012, engaging partners 
to improve harvest estimates and decrease take of yellow-billed loons.
    Consistent with the request of the North Slope Borough Fish and 
Game Management Committee and the recommendation of the Co-management 
Council, this rule continues through 2012 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 may be kept if found entangled in 
fishing nets in 2012, under this provision. This provision does not 
authorize intentional harvest of yellow-billed loons, but allows use of 
those loons inadvertently entangled during normal subsistence fishing 
activities.
    In 2010, the Service Regulations Committee's continued support of 
this provision was contingent on the North Slope Borough collaborating 
with the Service and the Co-Management Council to design and implement, 
in 2011, a scientifically defensible survey to estimate the number of 
yellow-billed loons entangled in subsistence fishing nets. During June 
2011, the North Slope submitted a proposal entitled, ``Assessment of 
Yellow-Billed Loons Inadvertently Entangled in Subsistence Fishing Nets 
in the North Slope Borough'' that has been endorsed by the Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game and the Service. The Service Regulations 
Committee met on July 28, 2011, and appreciated the efforts by the 
North Slope Borough to develop a scientifically defensible yellow-
billed loon entanglement survey and therefore supported continuation of 
the provision to allow subsistence use of up to 20 yellow-billed loons 
inadvertently caught in subsistence fishing nets.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    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 * * *'' We conducted an 
intra-agency consultation with the Fairbanks Fish and Wildlife Field 
Office on this harvest as it will be managed in accordance with this 
final rule and the conservation measures. The consultation was 
completed with a March 14, 2012, biological opinion that concluded the 
final rule and conservation measures are not likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of Steller's eider, spectacled eider, yellow-billed 
loon, or Kittlitz's murrelet, or result in the destruction or adverse 
modification of designated critical habitat for Steller's eider or 
spectacled eider.

Summary of Public Involvement

    On November 3, 2011, we published in the Federal Register a 
proposed rule (76 FR 68264) to establish spring and summer migratory 
bird subsistence harvest regulations in Alaska for the 2012 subsistence 
season. The proposed rule provided for a public comment period of 60 
days, ending January 3, 2012. We posted an announcement of the comment 
period dates for the proposed rule, as well as the rule itself and 
related historical documents, on the Co-management Council's Internet 
homepage. We issued a press release announcing our request for public 
comments and the pertinent deadlines for such comments, which was faxed 
to the media Statewide. Additionally, all documents were available on 
http://www.regulations.gov. The Service received two responses, one 
from an organization and the other from an individual.

Response to Public Comments

General Comments

    Comment: We received one general comment on the overall regulations 
that expressed strong opposition to the concept of allowing any harvest 
of migratory birds in Alaska.
    Service Response: For centuries, indigenous inhabitants of Alaska 
have harvested migratory birds for subsistence purposes during the 
spring and summer months. The Canada and Mexico migratory bird treaties 
were amended for the express purpose of allowing subsistence hunting 
for migratory birds during the spring and summer. The amendments 
indicate that the Service should issue regulations allowing such 
hunting as provided in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; see 16 U.S.C. 
712(1). See also Statutory Authority section, below, for more details.

Section 92.20 Methods and Means

    Comment: We received one comment addressing an objection that the 
use of bowhunting for birds was not prohibited. Also the commenter was 
concerned that the use of dogs to retrieve harvested birds was not 
prohibited. The commenter opined that both forms of bird hunting are 
cruel and involve injuries to the birds, often resulting in slow and 
painful deaths.
    Service Response: The amendments to Migratory Bird Treaty Act have 
two mandates: one is for the conservation of migratory birds, and the 
other is to continue the customary and traditional harvest of migratory 
birds during the spring and summer seasons. The use of bowhunting and 
the use of dogs for retrieving are both considered not to be customary 
and traditional practices in rural Alaska for harvesting migratory 
birds, and are rarely if ever practiced. Therefore, they are not 
considered to be issues of conservation concern.

Statutory Authority

    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 with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia, to ``issue such 
regulations as may be necessary to assure that the taking of migratory 
birds and the collection of their eggs, by the indigenous inhabitants 
of the State of Alaska, shall be permitted for their own nutritional 
and other essential needs, as determined by the Secretary of the 
Interior, during seasons established so as to provide for the 
preservation and maintenance of stocks of migratory birds.''

[[Page 17357]]

Required Determinations

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866)

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this 
rule is not significant and has not reviewed this rule under Executive 
Order 12866 (E.O. 12866). OMB bases its determination upon the 
following four criteria:
    (a) Whether the rule will have an annual effect of $100 million or 
more on the economy or adversely affect an economic sector, 
productivity, jobs, the environment, or other units of the government.
    (b) Whether the rule will create inconsistencies with other Federal 
agencies' actions.
    (c) Whether the rule will materially affect entitlements, grants, 
user fees, loan programs, or the rights and obligations of their 
recipients.
    (d) Whether the rule raises novel legal or policy issues.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Department of the Interior certifies that this rule will 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 
et seq.). An initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. 
Accordingly, a Small Entity Compliance Guide is not required. This 
final rule legalizes a pre-existing subsistence activity, and the 
resources harvested will be consumed by the harvesters or persons 
within their local community.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:
    (a) Will not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more. It legalizes and regulates a traditional subsistence activity. 
It will not result in a substantial increase in subsistence harvest or 
a significant change in harvesting patterns. The commodities being 
regulated under this final 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 final rule derives 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 final rule 
will lead to a disproportionate distribution of benefits.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers; individual industries; Federal, State, or local government 
agencies; or geographic regions. This final rule does not deal with 
traded commodities and, therefore, does not have an impact on prices 
for consumers.
    (c) Does 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 
final 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.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certified under the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.) that this final rule will not impose a cost 
of $100 million or more in any given year on local, State, or tribal 
governments or private entities. The final rule does not have a 
significant or unique effect on State, local, or tribal governments or 
the private sector. A statement containing the information required by 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act is not required. Participation on 
regional management bodies and the Co-management Council will require 
travel expenses for some Alaska Native organizations and local 
governments. In addition, they will assume some expenses related to 
coordinating involvement of village councils in the regulatory process. 
Total coordination and travel expenses for all Alaska Native 
organizations are estimated to be less than $300,000 per year. In a 
Notice of Decision (65 FR 16405; March 28, 2000), we identified 7 to 12 
partner organizations (Alaska Native nonprofits and local governments) 
to administer the regional programs. The Alaska Department of Fish and 
Game will also incur expenses for travel to Co-management Council and 
regional management body meetings. In addition, the State of Alaska 
will be required to provide technical staff support to each of the 
regional management bodies and to the Co-management Council. Expenses 
for the State's involvement may exceed $100,000 per year, but should 
not exceed $150,000 per year. When funding permits, we make annual 
grant agreements available to the partner organizations and the Alaska 
Department of Fish and Game to help offset their expenses.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this final rule does 
not have significant takings implications. This final 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.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this final rule does 
not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation 
of a federalism summary impact statement. We discuss effects of this 
final rule on the State of Alaska in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act 
section above. We worked with the State of Alaska to develop these 
regulations. Therefore, a federalism summary impact statement is not 
required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    The Department, in promulgating this final rule, has determined 
that it will not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets 
the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments

    In keeping with the spirit of the President's memorandum of April 
29, 1994, ``Government-to-Government Relations With Native American 
Tribal Governments'' (59 FR 22951), and Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 
67249; November 6, 2000), concerning consultation and coordination with 
Indian Tribal Governments, we submitted over 413 letters to all tribes, 
tribal entities, and Native Corporations in Alaska soliciting their 
input as to whether or not they would like the Service to consult with 
them on the 2012 migratory bird subsistence harvest regulations. We 
received 5 responses, of which 3 requested consultation, and one 
indicated they were happy with the process and did not want 
consultation. We did follow up with a call to the latter tribe, and 
they were undecided as to what they wanted to do. We conducted 3 
consultations with the tribes on December 4, 2012. All 3 tribes were 
happy with the information provided and did not have any comments on 
the regulations.
    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

[[Page 17358]]

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 will 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 will 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.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule has been examined under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and does not contain any new 
collections of information that require Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) approval. OMB has approved our collection of information 
associated with the voluntary annual household surveys used to 
determine levels of subsistence take. The OMB control number is 1018-
0124, which expires April 30, 2013. An 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.

National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) 
Consideration

    The annual regulations and options were considered in the 
environmental assessment, ``Managing Migratory Bird Subsistence Hunting 
in Alaska: Hunting Regulations for the 2012 Spring/Summer Harvest,'' 
October 25, 2011. Copies are available from either the person listed 
under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT or at http://www.regulations.gov.

Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (Executive Order 13211)

    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 will allow 
only for traditional subsistence harvest and will improve conservation 
of migratory birds by allowing effective regulation of this harvest. 
Further, this final 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.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 92

    Hunting, Treaties, Wildlife.

Final Regulation Promulgation

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we amend title 50, chapter 
I, subchapter G, of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 92--MIGRATORY BIRD SUBSISTENCE HARVEST IN ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 92 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712.

Subpart D--Annual Regulations Governing Subsistence Harvest

0
2. Add Sec.  92.31 to subpart D to read as follows:


Sec.  92.31  Region-specific regulations.

    The 2012 season dates for the eligible subsistence harvest areas 
are as follows:
    (a) Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Region.
    (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.
    (b) Yukon/Kuskokwim Delta Region.
    (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 will occur between June 1 
and August 15 of each year. A press release announcing the actual 
closure dates will 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 will be 
forwarded to regional newspapers and radio and television stations.
    (c) Bristol Bay Region.
    (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).
    (d) Bering Strait/Norton Sound Region.
    (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.
    (e) Kodiak Archipelago Region, except for the Kodiak Island roaded 
area, which is closed to the harvesting of migratory birds and their 
eggs. The closed area consists of all lands and waters (including 
exposed tidelands) east of a line extending from Crag Point in the 
north to the west end of Saltery Cove in the south and all lands and 
water south of a line extending from Termination Point along the north 
side of Cascade Lake extending to Anton Larson Bay. Waters adjacent to 
the closed area are closed to harvest within 500 feet from the water's 
edge. The offshore islands are open to harvest.
    (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.
    (f) Northwest Arctic Region.
    (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.
    (g) North Slope Region.

[[Page 17359]]

    (1) Southern Unit (Southwestern North Slope regional boundary east 
to Peard Bay, everything west of the longitude line 158[deg]30' W and 
south of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N to the west bank of the 
Ikpikpuk River, and everything south of the latitude line 69[deg]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[deg]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[deg]30' W and north of the latitude line 70[deg]45' N to west 
bank of the Ikpikpuk River, and everything north of the latitude line 
69[deg]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 subparts 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.
    (h) Interior Region.
    (1) Season: April 2-June 14 and July 16-August 31; egg gathering 
May 1-June 14 only.
    (2) Closure: June 15-July 15.
    (i) Upper Copper River Region (Harvest Area: Units 11 and 13) 
(Eligible communities: Gulkana, Chitina, Tazlina, Copper Center, 
Gakona, Mentasta Lake, Chistochina and Cantwell).
    (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.
    (j) Gulf of Alaska Region.
    (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.
    (k) Cook Inlet (Harvest area: portions of Unit 16[B] as specified 
below) (Eligible communities: Tyonek only):
    (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.
    (l) Southeast Alaska.
    (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 Part 
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.

0
3. Add Sec.  92.32 to subpart D to read as follows:


Sec.  92.32  Emergency regulations to protect Steller's eiders.

    Upon finding that continuation of the subsistence regulations in 
this subpart would pose an imminent threat to the conservation of 
threatened Steller's eiders (Polysticta stelleri), the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service Alaska Regional Director, in consultation with the Co-
management Council, will immediately under Sec.  92.21 take action as 
is necessary to prevent further take. Regulation changes implemented 
could range from a temporary closure of duck hunting in a small 
geographic area to large-scale regional or Statewide long-term closures 
of all subsistence migratory bird hunting. These closures or temporary 
suspensions will remain in effect until the Regional Director, in 
consultation with the Co-management Council, determines that the 
potential for additional Steller's eiders to be taken no longer exists.

    Dated: March 12, 2012.
Rachel Jacobson,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-7199 Filed 3-23-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P