Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2015-16 Hunting Season; Notice of Meetings, 33223-33227 [2015-14128]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 112 / Thursday, June 11, 2015 / Proposed Rules ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA–R09–OAR–2015–0246; FRL–9928–10– Region 9] Revisions to the California State Implementation Plan, Butte County Air Quality Management District, Feather River Air Quality Management District, and San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). ACTION: Proposed rule. AGENCY: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve revisions to the Butte County Air Quality Management District (BCAQMD), Feather River Air Quality Management District (FRAQMD), and San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District (SLOCAPCD) portions of the California State Implementation Plan (SIP). These revisions concern emission statements, definitions and mobile equipment coating. We are proposing to approve local rules to regulate these emission sources under the Clean Air Act (CAA or the Act). DATES: Any comments on this proposal must arrive by July 13, 2015. ADDRESSES: Submit comments, identified by docket number EPA–R09– OAR–2015–0246, by one of the following methods: 1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov. Follow the on-line instructions. 2. Email: steckel.andrew@epa.gov. 3. Mail or deliver: Andrew Steckel (Air-4), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105–3901. Instructions: All comments will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Information that you consider CBI or otherwise protected should be clearly identified as such and should not be submitted through www.regulations.gov or email. www.regulations.gov is an ‘‘anonymous access’’ system, and the EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send email directly to the EPA, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the public comment. If the EPA cannot read your Lhorne on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:00 Jun 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, the EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. Docket: Generally, documents in the docket for this action are available electronically at www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California 94105–3901. While all documents in the docket are listed at www.regulations.gov, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material, large maps), and some may not be publicly available in either location (e.g., CBI). To inspect the hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment during normal business hours with the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Arnold Lazarus, EPA Region IX, (415) 972–3024, lazarus.arnold@epa.gov. This proposal addresses the following local rules: BCAQMD Rule 101, BCAQMD Rule 434, FRAQMD Rule 3.19 and SLOCAPCD Rule 222. In the Rules and Regulations section of this Federal Register, we are approving these local rules in a direct final action without prior proposal because we believe these SIP revisions are not controversial. If we receive adverse comments, however, we will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule and address the comments in subsequent action based on this proposed rule. Please note that if we receive adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, we may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: We do not plan to open a second comment period, so anyone interested in commenting should do so at this time. If we do not receive adverse comments, no further activity is planned. For further information, please see the direct final action. Dated: May 8, 2015. Alexis Strauss, Acting Regional Administrator, Region IX. [FR Doc. 2015–14077 Filed 6–10–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 33223 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 20 [Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2014–0064; FF09M21200–156–FXMB1231099BPP0] RIN 1018–BA67 Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2015–16 Hunting Season; Notice of Meetings Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental. AGENCY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), proposed in an earlier document to establish annual hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds for the 2015–16 hunting season. This supplement to the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway Council meetings, and provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting from their March meetings. DATES: Comments: You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2015–16 duck hunting seasons on or before June 26, 2015, as detailed in the proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852). Following subsequent Federal Register notices, you will be given an opportunity to submit comments for proposed earlyseason frameworks by July 29, 2015, and for proposed late-season frameworks by August 29, 2015. Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet to consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season migratory bird hunting on June 24 and 25, 2015; and for late-season migratory bird hunting and the 2015 spring/summer Alaskan migratory bird subsistence season on July 29 and 30, 2015. All meetings will commence at approximately 8:30 a.m. and are open to the public. ADDRESSES: Comments: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2014– 0064. • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ– MB–2014–0064; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11JNP1.SGM 11JNP1 33224 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 112 / Thursday, June 11, 2015 / Proposed Rules Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. We will not accept emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public Comments section, below, for more information). Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will meet at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, Virginia. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron W. Kokel at: Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, MS:MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041; (703) 358–1714. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations Schedule for 2015 On April 13, 2015, we published in the Federal Register (80 FR 19852) a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal provided a background and overview of the migratory bird hunting regulations process, and addressed the establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for hunting migratory game birds under §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. This document is the second in a series of proposed, supplemental, and final rules for migratory game bird hunting regulations. We will publish proposed early-season frameworks in early July and late-season frameworks in early August. We will publish final regulatory frameworks for early seasons on or about August 15, 2015, and for late seasons on or about September 19, 2015. Lhorne on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) will meet June 24–25, 2015, to review information on the current status of migratory shore and upland game birds and develop 2015–16 migratory game bird regulations recommendations for these species, plus regulations for migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The SRC will also develop regulations recommendations for September waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In addition, the SRC will review and discuss preliminary information on the status of waterfowl. At the July 29–30, 2015, meetings, the SRC will review information on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2015–16 migratory game bird VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:00 Jun 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl seasons and other species and seasons not previously discussed at the early-season meetings. In addition, the SRC will develop recommendations for the 2016 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska. In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on the matters discussed. Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings Service representatives will be present at the individual meetings of the four Flyway Councils this July. Although agendas are not yet available, these meetings usually commence at 8 a.m. on the days indicated and are also open to the public. Atlantic Flyway Council: July 23–24, Hilton Albany, Albany, NY. Mississippi Flyway Council: July 23– 24, Doubletree Hotel, New Orleans, LA. Central Flyway Council: July 23–24, Best Western GranTree Inn, Bozeman, MT. Pacific Flyway Council: July 24, Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, NV. Review of Public Comments This supplemental rulemaking describes Flyway Council recommended changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the April 13, 2015, Federal Register. We have included only those recommendations requiring either new proposals or substantial modification of the preliminary proposals and do not include recommendations that simply support or oppose preliminary proposals and provide no recommended alternatives. Our responses to some Flyway Council recommendations, but not others, are merely a clarification to aid the reader on the overall regulatory process, not a definitive response to the issue. We will publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks. We seek additional information and comments on the recommendations in this supplemental proposed rule. New proposals and modifications to previously described proposals are discussed below. Wherever possible, they are discussed under headings corresponding to the numbered items identified in the April 13, 2015, proposed rule. Only those categories requiring your attention or for which we received Flyway Council recommendations are discussed below. PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 1. Ducks Duck harvest management categories are: (A) General Harvest Strategy; (B) Regulatory Alternatives, including specification of framework dates, season length, and bag limits; (C) Zones and Split Seasons; and (D) Special Seasons/ Species Management. A. General Harvest Strategy Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that regulations changes be restricted to one step per year, both when restricting as well as liberalizing hunting regulations. Service Response: As we stated in the April 13, 2015, Federal Register, the final adaptive harvest management (AHM) protocol for the 2015–16 season will be detailed in the early-season proposed rule, which will be published in mid-July. B. Regulatory Alternatives Council Recommendations: The Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils recommended that regulatory alternatives for duck hunting seasons remain the same as those used in 2014– 15. Service Response: As we stated in the April 13, 2015, Federal Register, the final regulatory alternatives for the 2015–16 season will be detailed in the early-season proposed rule, which will be published in mid-July. C. Zones and Split Seasons Council Recommendations: The Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils recommended no changes to the existing zone and split season guidelines. However, they further recommended that States be provided the option of changing duck zones and split arrangements in either the 2016–17 or 2017–18 seasons, with the next open season in 2021 for the 2021–25 period. 4. Canada Geese A. Special Seasons Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended increasing season length from 7 to 15 days and the daily bag limit from 2 to 5 for Canada geese in Idaho. B. Regular Seasons Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that the framework opening date for all species of geese for the regular goose seasons be September 16, 2015, in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin, and September 11, 2015, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. E:\FR\FM\11JNP1.SGM 11JNP1 Lhorne on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 112 / Thursday, June 11, 2015 / Proposed Rules 6. Brant For the 2015–16 Atlantic brant season, we will continue to use the existing Flyway Cooperative Management Plan for this species to determine the appropriate hunting regulations. However, as we discuss below, the process for determining regulations for the 2016–17 season will need to be modified. In the April 30, 2014 (79 FR 24512), and the April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852), Federal Registers, we discussed how, under the new regulatory process, the current earlyand late-season regulatory actions will be combined into a new single process beginning with the 2016–17 seasons. Regulatory proposals will be developed using biological data from the preceding year(s), model predictions, or most recently accumulated data that are available at the time the proposals are being formulated. Individual harvest strategies will be modified using data from the previous year(s) because the current year’s data would not be available for many of the strategies. Further, we stated that, during this transition period, harvest strategies and prescriptions would be modified to fit into the new regulatory schedule. Atlantic brant is one such species that will require some modifications to the regulatory process that we have largely used since 1992 to establish the annual frameworks. In developing the annual proposed frameworks for Atlantic brant in the past, the Atlantic Flyway Council and the Service used the number of brant counted during the Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey (MWS) in the Atlantic Flyway, and took into consideration the brant population’s expected productivity that summer. The MWS is conducted each January, and expected brant productivity is based on early-summer observations of breeding habitat conditions and nesting effort in important brant nesting areas. Thus, the data under consideration were available before the annual Flyway and SRC decision-making meetings took place in late July. Although the existing regulatory alternatives for Atlantic brant were developed by factoring together long-term productivity rates (observed during November and December productivity surveys) with estimated observed harvest under different framework regulations, the primary decision-making criterion for selecting the annual frameworks was the MWS count. In the April 13, 2015, Federal Register, we presented the major steps in the 2016–17 regulatory cycle relating to biological information availability, VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:00 Jun 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 open public meetings, and Federal Register notifications. Under the new regulatory schedule due to be implemented this fall and winter for the 2016–17 migratory bird hunting regulations, neither the expected 2016 brant production information (available summer 2016) nor the 2016 MWS count (conducted in January 2016) will be available this October, when the decisions on proposed Atlantic brant frameworks for the 2016–17 seasons must be made. However, the 2016 MWS will be completed and winter brant data available by the expected publication of the final frameworks (late February 2016). Therefore, while we plan to discuss this issue with the Atlantic Flyway Council this summer, we envision proposing frameworks for Atlantic brant in 2016–17 similar to the ones laid out below, with the final decision to be determined by the 2016 MWS count: If the MWS count is <100,000 Atlantic brant, the season will be closed. If the MWS count is between 100,000 and 125,000 brant, States may select a 30-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their seasons into 2 segments. If the MWS count is between 125,000 and 150,000 brant, States may select a 50-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their seasons into 2 segments. If the MWS count is between 150,000 and 200,000 brant, States may select a 60-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their seasons into 2 segments. If the MWS count is >200,000 brant, States may select a 60-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and January 31, with a 3-bird daily bag limit. States may split their seasons into 2 segments. While only an illustration at this point, the example prescriptive regulatory frameworks listed above are identical to those contained in the Atlantic Flyway Council’s current Atlantic brant hunt plan (2011), with the exception of considering expected brant production. However, at this time our new regulatory schedule will likely preclude any formal consideration of the brant population’s expected productivity in the summer. While something similar to this process would be a slight change to the existing mechanics of the Atlantic brant hunt plan, we believe it would have no significant effects on the long-term conservation of the Atlantic brant resource. We look forward to continuing PO 00000 Frm 00027 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 33225 discussions and work on the Atlantic brant issue with the Atlantic Flyway Council this summer in preparation for the 2016–17 season. For a more detailed discussion of the various technical aspects of the new regulatory process, we refer the reader to the 2013 Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement available on our Web site at http:// www.fws.gov/migratorybirds. 8. Swans Council Recommendations: The Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyway Councils recommended increasing tundra swan permit numbers by 25 percent (2,400 permits) for the 2015–16 season, if the final 3-year running average mid-winter count exceeds 110,000 Eastern Population tundra swans, in accordance with the Eastern Population tundra swan management plan. 9. Sandhill Cranes Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Councils recommended that Kentucky be granted an operational sandhill crane hunting season beginning in 2015 following the guidelines established in the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes Management Plan (EP Management Plan). Kentucky’s operational season would consist of a maximum season length of 60 days (with no splits) to be held between September 1 and January 31, with a daily bag limit of 2 birds, and a season limit of 3 birds. Hunting would occur between sunrise and sunset. Per the guidelines set forth in the EP Management Plan, and based on the state’s 5-year peak average of 12,072 birds, Kentucky would be allowed to issue a maximum of 1,207 tags during the 2015–16 season. These permits would be divided among 400 permitted hunters. Hunters would be required to take mandatory whooping crane identification training, utilize Serviceapproved nontoxic shot shells, tag birds, report harvest daily via Kentucky’s reporting system, and complete a postseason survey. The Central and Pacific Flyway Councils recommended using the Rocky Mountain Population (RMP) sandhill crane harvest allocation of 938 birds as proposed in the allocation formula using the 3-year running population average for 2012–14. The Councils also recommended that, under the new annual regulatory process beginning with the 2016–17 season, the harvest strategy described in the Pacific and Central Flyway Management Plan for RMP sandhill cranes be published in the E:\FR\FM\11JNP1.SGM 11JNP1 33226 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 112 / Thursday, June 11, 2015 / Proposed Rules proposed season frameworks and be used to determine allowable harvest. They recommended that the final allowable harvest each year be included in the final season frameworks published in February. The Pacific Flyway Council recommended some minor changes to the hunt area boundaries in Idaho to simplify and clarify hunt area descriptions. More specifically, Area 5 would now include all of Franklin County and Area 1 would include all of Caribou County except that portion lying within the Grays Lake Basin. Service Response: Regarding the RMP crane harvest and the new regulatory process, this issue is very similar to the Atlantic brant issue discussed above under 6. Brant. Currently, results of the fall survey of RMP sandhill cranes, upon which the annual allowable harvest is based, will continue to be released between December 15 and January 31 each year, which is after the date for which proposed frameworks will be formulated. If the usual procedures for determining allowable harvest were used, data 2–4 years old would be used to determine the annual allocation for RMP sandhill cranes. Due to the variability in fall survey counts and recruitment for this population, and their impact on the annual harvest allocations, we agree that relying on data that is 2–4 years old is not ideal. Thus, we look forward to continuing discussions and work on the RMP crane issue with the Central and Pacific Flyway Councils this summer in preparation for the 2016–17 season. Lhorne on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS 11. Moorhens and Gallinules Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended allowing the hunting of purple swamphens in Florida beginning in 2015. They recommended that hunting be allowed during any open waterfowl season and that all regulations in 50 CFR 20 subparts C and D would apply. Further, they recommended a daily bag limit of 25 birds, with a possession limit of 75. They also recommended that we exclude this species from monitoring programs. Councils recommended use of the ‘‘standard’’ season framework comprising a 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limit for States within the Eastern Management Unit. The daily bag limit could be composed of mourning doves and white-winged doves, singly or in combination. The Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils recommend the use of the ‘‘standard’’ season package of a 15-bird daily bag limit and a 70-day season for the 2015–16 mourning dove season in the States within the Central Management Unit. The Pacific Flyway Council recommended use of the ‘‘standard’’ season framework for States in the Western Management Unit (WMU) population of doves. In Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, the season length would be no more than 60 consecutive days with a daily bag limit of 15 mourning and white-winged doves in the aggregate. In Arizona and California, the season length would be no more than 60 consecutive days, which could be split between two periods, September 1–15 and November 1–January 15. In Arizona, during the first segment of the season, the daily bag limit would be 15 mourning and whitewinged doves in the aggregate, of which no more than 10 could be white-winged doves. During the remainder of the season, the daily bag limit would be 15 mourning doves. In California, the daily bag limit would be 15 mourning and white-winged doves in the aggregate, of which no more than 10 could be whitewinged doves. The Central Flyway Council also recommended that the Service adopt a new ‘‘standard’’ season package framework comprising a 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limit for States within the Central Management Unit beginning with the 2016–17 hunting season. 15. Band-Tailed Pigeons Council Recommendations: The Central and Pacific Flyway Councils recommended decreasing the season length for the Interior Population of band-tailed pigeons from 30 days to 14 days, and decreasing the bag limit from 5 to 2. 17. Alaska Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended several changes in the Alaska earlyseason frameworks. Specifically, they recommended: 1. In Unit 18, in western Alaska, increasing white-fronted geese daily bag and possession limits from 8 and 24, to 10 and 30, respectively. 2. For Canada geese in Units 6–B, 6– C, and on Hinchinbrook and Hawkins Islands in Unit 6–D, increasing the possession limit from two times to three times the daily bag limit. 16. Mourning Doves Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Public Comments The Department of the Interior’s policy is, whenever practicable, to VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:00 Jun 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 PO 00000 Frm 00028 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 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 the proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES. Finally, we will not consider handdelivered comments that we do not receive, or mailed comments that are not postmarked, by the date specified in DATES. 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 the 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, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA. 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. Required Determinations Based on our most current data, we are affirming our required determinations made in the proposed rule; for descriptions of our actions to ensure compliance with the following statutes and Executive Orders, see our April 13, 2015, proposed rule (80 FR 19852): • National Environmental Policy Act; E:\FR\FM\11JNP1.SGM 11JNP1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 112 / Thursday, June 11, 2015 / Proposed Rules Lhorne on DSK2VPTVN1PROD with PROPOSALS • Endangered Species Act; • Regulatory Planning and Review; • Regulatory Flexibility Act; • Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act; • Paperwork Reduction Act; • Unfunded Mandates Reform Act; • Executive Orders 12630, 12988, 13175, 13132, and 13211. VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:00 Jun 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 33227 List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20 Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation, Wildlife. promulgated for the 2015–16 hunting season, is authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703–711, 16 U.S.C. 712, and 16 U.S.C. 742 a–j. Authority The rulemaking outlined in the proposed rule published in the Federal Register on April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852) and in this supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, proposed to be Dated: June 2, 2015. Michael J. Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. PO 00000 Frm 00029 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 [FR Doc. 2015–14128 Filed 6–10–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310–55–P E:\FR\FM\11JNP1.SGM 11JNP1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 112 (Thursday, June 11, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33223-33227]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-14128]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2014-0064; FF09M21200-156-FXMB1231099BPP0]
RIN 1018-BA67


Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2015-16 Hunting Season; Notice of 
Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; supplemental.

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

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), proposed in 
an earlier document to establish annual hunting regulations for certain 
migratory game birds for the 2015-16 hunting season. This supplement to 
the proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, announces the 
Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee and Flyway Council 
meetings, and provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting from 
their March meetings.

DATES: Comments: You must submit comments on the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2015-16 duck hunting seasons on or before June 26, 
2015, as detailed in the proposed rule published in the Federal 
Register on April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852). Following subsequent Federal 
Register notices, you will be given an opportunity to submit comments 
for proposed early-season frameworks by July 29, 2015, and for proposed 
late-season frameworks by August 29, 2015.
    Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will 
meet to consider and develop proposed regulations for early-season 
migratory bird hunting on June 24 and 25, 2015; and for late-season 
migratory bird hunting and the 2015 spring/summer Alaskan migratory 
bird subsistence season on July 29 and 30, 2015. All meetings will 
commence at approximately 8:30 a.m. and are open to the public.

ADDRESSES: Comments: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of 
the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-HQ-
MB-2014-0064.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2014-0064; Division of Policy, Performance, and 
Management

[[Page 33224]]

Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, 
Falls Church, VA 22041.
    We will not accept emailed or faxed comments. We will post all 
comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we 
will post any personal information you provide us (see the Public 
Comments section, below, for more information).
    Meetings: The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee will 
meet at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls 
Church, Virginia.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron W. Kokel at: Division of Migratory 
Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the 
Interior, MS:MB, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041; (703) 358-
1714.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Regulations Schedule for 2015

    On April 13, 2015, we published in the Federal Register (80 FR 
19852) a proposal to amend 50 CFR part 20. The proposal provided a 
background and overview of the migratory bird hunting regulations 
process, and addressed the establishment of seasons, limits, and other 
regulations for hunting migratory game birds under Sec. Sec.  20.101 
through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K. This document is the 
second in a series of proposed, supplemental, and final rules for 
migratory game bird hunting regulations. We will publish proposed 
early-season frameworks in early July and late-season frameworks in 
early August. We will publish final regulatory frameworks for early 
seasons on or about August 15, 2015, and for late seasons on or about 
September 19, 2015.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) will meet 
June 24-25, 2015, to review information on the current status of 
migratory shore and upland game birds and develop 2015-16 migratory 
game bird regulations recommendations for these species, plus 
regulations for migratory game birds in Alaska, Puerto Rico, and the 
Virgin Islands. The SRC will also develop regulations recommendations 
for September waterfowl seasons in designated States, special sea duck 
seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and extended falconry seasons. In 
addition, the SRC will review and discuss preliminary information on 
the status of waterfowl.
    At the July 29-30, 2015, meetings, the SRC will review information 
on the current status of waterfowl and develop 2015-16 migratory game 
bird regulations recommendations for regular waterfowl seasons and 
other species and seasons not previously discussed at the early-season 
meetings. In addition, the SRC will develop recommendations for the 
2016 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska.
    In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to 
public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on 
the matters discussed.

Announcement of Flyway Council Meetings

    Service representatives will be present at the individual meetings 
of the four Flyway Councils this July. Although agendas are not yet 
available, these meetings usually commence at 8 a.m. on the days 
indicated and are also open to the public.
    Atlantic Flyway Council: July 23-24, Hilton Albany, Albany, NY.
    Mississippi Flyway Council: July 23-24, Doubletree Hotel, New 
Orleans, LA.
    Central Flyway Council: July 23-24, Best Western GranTree Inn, 
Bozeman, MT.
    Pacific Flyway Council: July 24, Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno, NV.

Review of Public Comments

    This supplemental rulemaking describes Flyway Council recommended 
changes based on the preliminary proposals published in the April 13, 
2015, Federal Register. We have included only those recommendations 
requiring either new proposals or substantial modification of the 
preliminary proposals and do not include recommendations that simply 
support or oppose preliminary proposals and provide no recommended 
alternatives. Our responses to some Flyway Council recommendations, but 
not others, are merely a clarification to aid the reader on the overall 
regulatory process, not a definitive response to the issue. We will 
publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we develop 
final frameworks.
    We seek additional information and comments on the recommendations 
in this supplemental proposed rule. New proposals and modifications to 
previously described proposals are discussed below. Wherever possible, 
they are discussed under headings corresponding to the numbered items 
identified in the April 13, 2015, proposed rule. Only those categories 
requiring your attention or for which we received Flyway Council 
recommendations are discussed below.

1. Ducks

    Duck harvest management categories are: (A) General Harvest 
Strategy; (B) Regulatory Alternatives, including specification of 
framework dates, season length, and bag limits; (C) Zones and Split 
Seasons; and (D) Special Seasons/Species Management.

A. General Harvest Strategy

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended 
that regulations changes be restricted to one step per year, both when 
restricting as well as liberalizing hunting regulations.
    Service Response: As we stated in the April 13, 2015, Federal 
Register, the final adaptive harvest management (AHM) protocol for the 
2015-16 season will be detailed in the early-season proposed rule, 
which will be published in mid-July.

B. Regulatory Alternatives

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi and Central Flyway 
Councils recommended that regulatory alternatives for duck hunting 
seasons remain the same as those used in 2014-15.
    Service Response: As we stated in the April 13, 2015, Federal 
Register, the final regulatory alternatives for the 2015-16 season will 
be detailed in the early-season proposed rule, which will be published 
in mid-July.

C. Zones and Split Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi and Central Flyway 
Councils recommended no changes to the existing zone and split season 
guidelines. However, they further recommended that States be provided 
the option of changing duck zones and split arrangements in either the 
2016-17 or 2017-18 seasons, with the next open season in 2021 for the 
2021-25 period.

4. Canada Geese

A. Special Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
increasing season length from 7 to 15 days and the daily bag limit from 
2 to 5 for Canada geese in Idaho.

B. Regular Seasons

    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended 
that the framework opening date for all species of geese for the 
regular goose seasons be September 16, 2015, in the Lower Peninsula of 
Michigan and Wisconsin, and September 11, 2015, in the Upper Peninsula 
of Michigan.

[[Page 33225]]

6. Brant

    For the 2015-16 Atlantic brant season, we will continue to use the 
existing Flyway Cooperative Management Plan for this species to 
determine the appropriate hunting regulations. However, as we discuss 
below, the process for determining regulations for the 2016-17 season 
will need to be modified. In the April 30, 2014 (79 FR 24512), and the 
April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852), Federal Registers, we discussed how, 
under the new regulatory process, the current early- and late-season 
regulatory actions will be combined into a new single process beginning 
with the 2016-17 seasons. Regulatory proposals will be developed using 
biological data from the preceding year(s), model predictions, or most 
recently accumulated data that are available at the time the proposals 
are being formulated. Individual harvest strategies will be modified 
using data from the previous year(s) because the current year's data 
would not be available for many of the strategies. Further, we stated 
that, during this transition period, harvest strategies and 
prescriptions would be modified to fit into the new regulatory 
schedule. Atlantic brant is one such species that will require some 
modifications to the regulatory process that we have largely used since 
1992 to establish the annual frameworks.
    In developing the annual proposed frameworks for Atlantic brant in 
the past, the Atlantic Flyway Council and the Service used the number 
of brant counted during the Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey (MWS) in the 
Atlantic Flyway, and took into consideration the brant population's 
expected productivity that summer. The MWS is conducted each January, 
and expected brant productivity is based on early-summer observations 
of breeding habitat conditions and nesting effort in important brant 
nesting areas. Thus, the data under consideration were available before 
the annual Flyway and SRC decision-making meetings took place in late 
July. Although the existing regulatory alternatives for Atlantic brant 
were developed by factoring together long-term productivity rates 
(observed during November and December productivity surveys) with 
estimated observed harvest under different framework regulations, the 
primary decision-making criterion for selecting the annual frameworks 
was the MWS count.
    In the April 13, 2015, Federal Register, we presented the major 
steps in the 2016-17 regulatory cycle relating to biological 
information availability, open public meetings, and Federal Register 
notifications. Under the new regulatory schedule due to be implemented 
this fall and winter for the 2016-17 migratory bird hunting 
regulations, neither the expected 2016 brant production information 
(available summer 2016) nor the 2016 MWS count (conducted in January 
2016) will be available this October, when the decisions on proposed 
Atlantic brant frameworks for the 2016-17 seasons must be made. 
However, the 2016 MWS will be completed and winter brant data available 
by the expected publication of the final frameworks (late February 
2016). Therefore, while we plan to discuss this issue with the Atlantic 
Flyway Council this summer, we envision proposing frameworks for 
Atlantic brant in 2016-17 similar to the ones laid out below, with the 
final decision to be determined by the 2016 MWS count:
    If the MWS count is <100,000 Atlantic brant, the season will be 
closed.
    If the MWS count is between 100,000 and 125,000 brant, States may 
select a 30-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and 
January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their 
seasons into 2 segments.
    If the MWS count is between 125,000 and 150,000 brant, States may 
select a 50-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and 
January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their 
seasons into 2 segments.
    If the MWS count is between 150,000 and 200,000 brant, States may 
select a 60-day season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and 
January 31, with a 2-bird daily bag limit. States may split their 
seasons into 2 segments.
    If the MWS count is >200,000 brant, States may select a 60-day 
season between the Saturday nearest September 24 and January 31, with a 
3-bird daily bag limit. States may split their seasons into 2 segments.
    While only an illustration at this point, the example prescriptive 
regulatory frameworks listed above are identical to those contained in 
the Atlantic Flyway Council's current Atlantic brant hunt plan (2011), 
with the exception of considering expected brant production. However, 
at this time our new regulatory schedule will likely preclude any 
formal consideration of the brant population's expected productivity in 
the summer. While something similar to this process would be a slight 
change to the existing mechanics of the Atlantic brant hunt plan, we 
believe it would have no significant effects on the long-term 
conservation of the Atlantic brant resource. We look forward to 
continuing discussions and work on the Atlantic brant issue with the 
Atlantic Flyway Council this summer in preparation for the 2016-17 
season.
    For a more detailed discussion of the various technical aspects of 
the new regulatory process, we refer the reader to the 2013 
Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement available on our Web site 
at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.

8. Swans

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central 
Flyway Councils recommended increasing tundra swan permit numbers by 25 
percent (2,400 permits) for the 2015-16 season, if the final 3-year 
running average mid-winter count exceeds 110,000 Eastern Population 
tundra swans, in accordance with the Eastern Population tundra swan 
management plan.

9. Sandhill Cranes

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils recommended that Kentucky be granted an operational sandhill 
crane hunting season beginning in 2015 following the guidelines 
established in the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes Management 
Plan (EP Management Plan). Kentucky's operational season would consist 
of a maximum season length of 60 days (with no splits) to be held 
between September 1 and January 31, with a daily bag limit of 2 birds, 
and a season limit of 3 birds. Hunting would occur between sunrise and 
sunset. Per the guidelines set forth in the EP Management Plan, and 
based on the state's 5-year peak average of 12,072 birds, Kentucky 
would be allowed to issue a maximum of 1,207 tags during the 2015-16 
season. These permits would be divided among 400 permitted hunters. 
Hunters would be required to take mandatory whooping crane 
identification training, utilize Service-approved nontoxic shot shells, 
tag birds, report harvest daily via Kentucky's reporting system, and 
complete a post-season survey.
    The Central and Pacific Flyway Councils recommended using the Rocky 
Mountain Population (RMP) sandhill crane harvest allocation of 938 
birds as proposed in the allocation formula using the 3-year running 
population average for 2012-14. The Councils also recommended that, 
under the new annual regulatory process beginning with the 2016-17 
season, the harvest strategy described in the Pacific and Central 
Flyway Management Plan for RMP sandhill cranes be published in the

[[Page 33226]]

proposed season frameworks and be used to determine allowable harvest. 
They recommended that the final allowable harvest each year be included 
in the final season frameworks published in February.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended some minor changes to the 
hunt area boundaries in Idaho to simplify and clarify hunt area 
descriptions. More specifically, Area 5 would now include all of 
Franklin County and Area 1 would include all of Caribou County except 
that portion lying within the Grays Lake Basin.
    Service Response: Regarding the RMP crane harvest and the new 
regulatory process, this issue is very similar to the Atlantic brant 
issue discussed above under 6. Brant. Currently, results of the fall 
survey of RMP sandhill cranes, upon which the annual allowable harvest 
is based, will continue to be released between December 15 and January 
31 each year, which is after the date for which proposed frameworks 
will be formulated. If the usual procedures for determining allowable 
harvest were used, data 2-4 years old would be used to determine the 
annual allocation for RMP sandhill cranes. Due to the variability in 
fall survey counts and recruitment for this population, and their 
impact on the annual harvest allocations, we agree that relying on data 
that is 2-4 years old is not ideal. Thus, we look forward to continuing 
discussions and work on the RMP crane issue with the Central and 
Pacific Flyway Councils this summer in preparation for the 2016-17 
season.

11. Moorhens and Gallinules

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic Flyway Council recommended 
allowing the hunting of purple swamphens in Florida beginning in 2015. 
They recommended that hunting be allowed during any open waterfowl 
season and that all regulations in 50 CFR 20 subparts C and D would 
apply. Further, they recommended a daily bag limit of 25 birds, with a 
possession limit of 75. They also recommended that we exclude this 
species from monitoring programs.

15. Band-Tailed Pigeons

    Council Recommendations: The Central and Pacific Flyway Councils 
recommended decreasing the season length for the Interior Population of 
band-tailed pigeons from 30 days to 14 days, and decreasing the bag 
limit from 5 to 2.

16. Mourning Doves

    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils recommended use of the ``standard'' season framework 
comprising a 90-day season and 15-bird daily bag limit for States 
within the Eastern Management Unit. The daily bag limit could be 
composed of mourning doves and white-winged doves, singly or in 
combination.
    The Mississippi and Central Flyway Councils recommend the use of 
the ``standard'' season package of a 15-bird daily bag limit and a 70-
day season for the 2015-16 mourning dove season in the States within 
the Central Management Unit.
    The Pacific Flyway Council recommended use of the ``standard'' 
season framework for States in the Western Management Unit (WMU) 
population of doves. In Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, 
the season length would be no more than 60 consecutive days with a 
daily bag limit of 15 mourning and white-winged doves in the aggregate. 
In Arizona and California, the season length would be no more than 60 
consecutive days, which could be split between two periods, September 
1-15 and November 1-January 15. In Arizona, during the first segment of 
the season, the daily bag limit would be 15 mourning and white-winged 
doves in the aggregate, of which no more than 10 could be white-winged 
doves. During the remainder of the season, the daily bag limit would be 
15 mourning doves. In California, the daily bag limit would be 15 
mourning and white-winged doves in the aggregate, of which no more than 
10 could be white-winged doves.
    The Central Flyway Council also recommended that the Service adopt 
a new ``standard'' season package framework comprising a 90-day season 
and 15-bird daily bag limit for States within the Central Management 
Unit beginning with the 2016-17 hunting season.

17. Alaska

    Council Recommendations: The Pacific Flyway Council recommended 
several changes in the Alaska early-season frameworks. Specifically, 
they recommended:
    1. In Unit 18, in western Alaska, increasing white-fronted geese 
daily bag and possession limits from 8 and 24, to 10 and 30, 
respectively.
    2. For Canada geese in Units 6-B, 6-C, and on Hinchinbrook and 
Hawkins Islands in Unit 6-D, increasing the possession limit from two 
times to three times the daily bag limit.

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 the proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will not accept 
comments sent by email or fax or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES. 
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 DATES. 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 the 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, 5275 Leesburg 
Pike, Falls Church, VA.
    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.

Required Determinations

    Based on our most current data, we are affirming our required 
determinations made in the proposed rule; for descriptions of our 
actions to ensure compliance with the following statutes and Executive 
Orders, see our April 13, 2015, proposed rule (80 FR 19852):
     National Environmental Policy Act;

[[Page 33227]]

     Endangered Species Act;
     Regulatory Planning and Review;
     Regulatory Flexibility Act;
     Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act;
     Paperwork Reduction Act;
     Unfunded Mandates Reform Act;
     Executive Orders 12630, 12988, 13175, 13132, and 13211.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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

Authority

    The rulemaking outlined in the proposed rule published in the 
Federal Register on April 13, 2015 (80 FR 19852) and in this 
supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, proposed to be promulgated 
for the 2015-16 hunting season, is authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 
16 U.S.C. 712, and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: June 2, 2015.
Michael J. Bean,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2015-14128 Filed 6-10-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P