Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands

Summary

This rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and daily bag and possession limits of mourning, white-winged, and white- tipped doves; band-tailed pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; woodcock; common snipe; sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) waterfowl seasons; migratory game birds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; and some extended falconry seasons. Taking of migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by annual regulations. This rule permits taking of designated species during the 1996-97 season.

Full text

SUMMARY: This rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and 
daily bag and possession limits of mourning, white-winged, and white-
tipped doves; band-tailed pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; 
woodcock; common snipe; sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) 
waterfowl seasons; migratory game birds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, 
and the Virgin Islands; and some extended falconry seasons. Taking of 
migratory birds is prohibited unless specifically provided for by 
annual regulations. This rule permits taking of designated species 
during the 1996-97 season.

EFFECTIVE DATE: August 30, 1996.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul R. Schmidt, Chief, Office of 
Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department 
of the Interior, ms 634-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240 
(703) 358-1714.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations Schedule for 1996

    On March 22, 1996, the Service published in the Federal Register 
(61 FR 11992) a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal dealt 
with the establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for 
migratory game birds under Sections 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 
20.110 of subpart K. On June 13, 1996, the Service published in the 
Federal Register (61 FR 30114) a second document providing supplemental 
proposals for early- and late-season migratory bird hunting regulations 
frameworks. The June 13 supplement also provided detailed information 
on the 1996-97 regulatory schedule and announced the Service Migratory 
Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway Council meetings. On June 14, 
1996, the Service published in the Federal Register (61 FR 30490) a 
third document describing the Service's proposed 1996-97 regulatory 
alternatives for duck hunting and its intent to consider establishing a 
special youth waterfowl hunting day.
    On June 27, 1996, the Service held a public hearing in Washington, 
DC, as announced in the March 22 and June 14 Federal Registers to 
review the status of migratory shore and upland game birds. The Service 
discussed hunting regulations for these species and for other early 
seasons. On July 22, 1996, the Service published in the Federal 
Register (61 FR 37994) a fourth document specifically dealing with 
proposed early-season frameworks for the 1996-97 season. This document 
also extended the public comment period to August 1, 1996, for early-
season proposals.
    On August 2, 1996, the Service held a public hearing in Washington, 
DC, as announced in the March 22, June 14, and July 22 Federal 
Registers to review the status of waterfowl. Proposed hunting 
regulations were discussed for late seasons. On August 15, 1996, (61 FR 
42506), the Service published a fifth and sixth document on migratory 
bird hunting. The fifth document dealt specifically with proposed 
frameworks for the 1996-97 late-season migratory bird hunting 
regulations. The sixth document proposed establishing a youth waterfowl 
hunting day for the 1996-97 duck-hunting season. On August 29, 1996, 
the Service published a seventh document containing final frameworks 
for early migratory bird hunting seasons from which wildlife 
conservation agency officials from the States, Puerto Rico, and the 
Virgin Islands selected early-season hunting dates, hours, areas, and 
limits. The final rule described here is the eighth in the series of 
proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory 
game bird hunting regulations and deals specifically with amending 
subpart K of 50 CFR 20. It sets hunting seasons, hours, areas, and 
limits for mourning, white-winged, and white-tipped doves; band-tailed 
pigeons; rails; moorhens and gallinules; woodcock; common snipe; 
sandhill cranes; sea ducks; early (September) waterfowl seasons; 
mourning doves in Hawaii; migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, 
and the Virgin Islands; and some extended falconry seasons.

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 EPA on June 9, 1988. The Service published a Notice 
of Availability in the June 16, 1988, Federal Register (53 FR 22582). 
The Service published its Record of Decision on August 18, 1988 (53 FR 
31341). Copies of these documents are available from the Service at the 
address indicated under the caption ADDRESSES.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    As in the past, the Service designs hunting regulations to remove 
or alleviate chances of conflict between migratory game bird hunting 
seasons and the protection and conservation of endangered and 
threatened species. Consultations were conducted to ensure that actions 
resulting from these regulatory proposals will not likely jeopardize 
the continued existence of endangered or threatened species or result 
in the destruction or adverse modification of their critical habitat. 
Findings from these consultations are included in a biological opinion and may have modified some regulatory 
measures previously proposed. The final frameworks here reflect any 
such modifications. The Service's biological opinions resulting from 
its Section 7 consultation are public documents available for public 
inspection in the Service's Division of Endangered Species and Office 
of Migratory Bird Management, at the address indicated under the 
caption ADDRESSES.

Regulatory Flexibility Act; Executive Order 12866 and the Paperwork 
Reduction Act

    In the March 22, 1996, Federal Register, the Service reported 
measures it took to comply with requirements of the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act and E.O. 12866. One measure was to prepare a Small 
Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis) in 1996 documenting the 
significant beneficial economic effect on a substantial number of small 
entities. The Analysis estimated that migratory bird hunters would 
spend between $254 and $592 million at small businesses. Copies of the 
Analysis are available upon request from the Office of Migratory Bird 
Management. This rule was not subject to review by the Office of 
Management and Budget under E.O. 12866.
    The Department examined these proposed regulations under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The various information collection 
requirements are utilized in the formulation of migratory game bird 
hunting regulations. OMB has approved these information collection 
requirements and assigned clearance numbers 1018-0015 and 1018-0023.

Regulations Promulgation

    The rulemaking process for migratory game bird hunting must, by its 
nature, operate under severe time constraints. However, the Service 
intends that the public be given the greatest possible opportunity to 
comment on the regulations. Thus, when the preliminary proposed 
rulemaking was published, the Service established what it believed were 
the longest periods possible for public comment. In doing this, the 
Service recognized that when the comment period closed, time would be 
of the essence. That is, if there were a delay in the effective date of 
these regulations after this final rulemaking, the States would have 
insufficient time to select season dates and limits; to communicate 
those selections to the Service; and to establish and publicize the 
necessary regulations and procedures to implement their decisions. 
Therefore, the Service, under authority of the Migratory Bird Treaty 
Act (July 3, 1918), as amended, (16 U.S.C. 703-711), prescribes final 
frameworks setting forth the species to be hunted, the daily bag and 
possession limits, the shooting hours, the season lengths, the earliest 
opening and latest closing season dates, and hunting areas, from which 
State conservation agency officials may select hunting season dates and 
other options. Upon receipt of season and option selections from these 
officials, the Service will publish in the Federal Register a final 
rulemaking amending 50 CFR part 20 to reflect seasons, limits, and 
shooting hours for the conterminous United States for the 1996-97 
season.
    The Service therefore finds that ``good cause'' exists, within the 
terms of 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3) of the Administrative Procedure Act, and 
these frameworks will, therefore, take effect immediately upon 
publication.

Unfunded Mandates

    The Service has determined and certifies in compliance with the 
requirements of the Unfunded Mandates Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that 
this rulemaking will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any 
given year on local or State government or private entities.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

    The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined 
that these regulations meet the applicable standards provided in 
Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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

    Dated: August 27, 1996.
George T. Frampton, Jr.,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

PART 20--[AMENDED]

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 50, chapter I, 
subchapter B, Part 20, subpart K is amended as follows.
    1. The authority citation for Part 20 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

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[FR Doc. 96-22244 Filed 8-29-96; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-C  

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