Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2018-19 Hunting Season; Notice of Meetings, 46011-46015 [2017-21195]

Download as PDF asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 190 / Tuesday, October 3, 2017 / Proposed Rules of the Federal Register, EPA is approving the State’s SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A more detailed description of the state submittal and EPA’s evaluation is included in a technical support document (TSD) prepared in support of this rulemaking action. A copy of the TSD is available, upon request, from the EPA Regional Office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document or is also available electronically within the Docket for this rulemaking action. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time. DATES: Comments must be received in writing by November 2, 2017. ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–R03– OAR–2017–0396 at https:// www.regulations.gov, or via email to stahl.cynthia@epa.gov. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, the EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be confidential business information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/ commenting-epa-dockets. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gavin Huang, (215) 814–2042, or by email at huang.gavin@epa.gov. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:02 Oct 02, 2017 Jkt 244001 For further information, please see the information provided in the direct final action, with the same title, that is located in the ‘‘Rules and Regulations’’ section of this issue of the Federal Register publication. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Dated: September 7, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III. [FR Doc. 2017–21109 Filed 10–2–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560–50–P 46011 to 47 CFR 1.429(e). See also 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1) and 1.429(f), (g). Number of Petitions Filed: 1. Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2017–21239 Filed 10–2–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712–01–P DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 1 and 20 50 CFR Part 20 [Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2017–0028; FF09M21200–178–FXMB1231099BPP0] RIN 1018–BB73 [MB Docket No 11–43; Report No. 3081] Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking Proceeding Federal Communications Commission. ACTION: Petition for Reconsideration. AGENCY: A Petition for Reconsideration (Petition) has been filed in the Commission’s rulemaking proceeding by Rick Chessen, on behalf of NCTA– The Internet & Television Association. DATES: Oppositions to the Petition must be filed on or before October 18, 2017. Replies to an opposition must be filed on or before October 30, 2017. ADDRESSES: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lyle Elder, Media Bureau, at (202) 418–2365 or email: Lyle.Elder@FCC.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission’s document, Report No. 3081, released September 21, 2017. The full text of the Petition is available for viewing and copying at the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY–A257, Washington, DC 20554. It also may be accessed online via the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System at: http://apps.fcc.gov/ ecfs/. The Commission will not send a Congressional Review Act (CRA) submission to Congress or the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the CRA, 5.U.S.C. because no rules are being adopted by the Commission. Subject: Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, FCC 17–88, published at 82 FR 37345, August 10, 2017, in MB Docket No. 11–43. This document is being published pursuant SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00008 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2018–19 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 this year to establish annual hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds for the 2018–19 hunting season. This supplement to that proposed rule provides the regulatory alternatives for the 2018–19 duck hunting seasons, announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings, and provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting from their March meetings. DATES: Comments: We will accept comments on this proposed rule and any subsequent proposed rules resulting from upcoming SRC meetings until January 15, 2018. Meetings: The SRC will meet to consider and develop proposed regulations for the 2018–19 migratory game bird hunting seasons on October 17–18, 2017. Meetings on both days will commence at approximately 8:30 a.m. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2017– 0028. • U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ– MB–2017–0028; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\03OCP1.SGM 03OCP1 46012 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 190 / Tuesday, October 3, 2017 / Proposed Rules We will not accept emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the Web site. See the Public Comments section, below, for more information. Meetings: The October 17–18, 2017, SRC meeting will be at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Office, 5600 American Boulevard, Bloomington, MN 55437. 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: asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS New Process for the Annual Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations As part of DOI’s retrospective regulatory review, 2 years ago we developed a schedule for migratory game bird hunting regulations that is more efficient and provides hunting season dates much earlier than was possible under the old process. The new process makes planning easier for the States and all parties interested in migratory bird hunting. Beginning in the summer of 2015, with the development of the 2016–17 hunting seasons, we started promulgating our annual migratory game bird hunting regulations using a new schedule that combines the previously used early- and late-season regulatory processes into a single process. We make decisions for harvest management based on predictions derived from long-term biological information and established harvest strategies and, therefore, can establish migratory bird hunting seasons much earlier than the system we used for many years. Under the new process, we develop proposed hunting season frameworks for a given year in the fall of the prior year. We then finalize those frameworks a few months later, thereby enabling the State agencies to select and publish their season dates in early summer. We provided a detailed overview of the new process in the August 3, 2017, Federal Register (82 FR 36308). This proposed rule is the second in a series of proposed and final rules for the establishment of the 2018–19 hunting seasons. Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings The SRC will meet October 17–18, 2017, to review information on the current status of migratory game birds, VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:02 Oct 02, 2017 Jkt 244001 consider Flyway Council recommendations, and develop 2018–19 migratory game bird regulations recommendations for these species. In accordance with Departmental policy, these meetings are open to public observation. You may submit written comments to the Service on the matters discussed. Regulatory Schedule for 2017–18 On August 3, 2017, we published a proposal to amend title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 20 (82 FR 36308). 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 additional supplemental proposals for public comment in the Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, and other information become available. Major steps in the 2018–19 regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications were illustrated in the diagram at the end of the August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308). All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining hunting frameworks and guidelines are organized under the numbered headings set forth in the August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308). Later sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to numbered items requiring attention. Therefore, it is important to note that we will omit those items requiring no attention, and remaining numbered items will be discontinuous, thereby making the list appear incomplete. The regulatory alternatives for the 2018–19 duck hunting seasons are shown at the end of this document. We plan to publish proposed season frameworks in mid-December 2017. We plan to publish final season frameworks in late February 2018. Review of Public Comments This proposed rulemaking describes recommended changes or specific preliminary proposals that vary from the 2017–18 regulations and issues requiring discussion, action, or the attention of the States or tribes. We will publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks for the 2018–19 season. We seek additional information PO 00000 Frm 00009 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 and comments on 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 August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308). Only those categories requiring 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 regulation changes be restricted to one step per year, both when restricting as well as liberalizing hunting regulations. Service Response: As we stated in the August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308), we intend to continue use of Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) to help determine appropriate duckhunting regulations for the 2018–19 season. AHM is a tool that permits sound resource decisions in the face of uncertain regulatory impacts, as well as providing a mechanism for reducing that uncertainty over time. The current AHM protocol is used to evaluate four alternative regulatory levels based on the population status of mallards and their breeding habitat (i.e., abundance of ponds). Special hunting restrictions are enacted for certain species, such as canvasbacks, black ducks, scaup, and pintails. Regarding the Mississippi Flyway Council recommendation to limit regulatory changes to one step per year, we recognize the longstanding interest by the Council to impose a one-step constraint on regulatory changes. We note that the Central and Mississippi Flyways have worked with Service staff during the past 3 years to revisit the AHM protocol for managing harvest of mid-continent mallards. This effort has included a discussion of appropriate management objectives, regulatory packages, and management of nonmallard stocks. These discussions are the appropriate venue to discuss what role, if any, a one-step constraint might play in management of waterfowl in the Central and Mississippi Flyways. Such discussions should include the potential impact of a one-step constraint on the E:\FR\FM\03OCP1.SGM 03OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 190 / Tuesday, October 3, 2017 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS frequency of when the liberal, moderate, and restrictive packages would be recommended. On a final note, while we recognize the Council’s concern about potentially communicating a large regulatory change to hunters, we have concerns about the appropriateness of a one-step constraint in situations when the status of the waterfowl resource may warrant such a measure. We look forward to continued work with the Flyway Councils on this issue. 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 2017– 18. The Mississippi Flyway Council further recommended changing the framework closing date to January 31 during ‘‘moderate’’ and ‘‘liberal’’ seasons. Service Response: As we stated in final rules published last year (81 FR 17302, March 28, 2016) and earlier this year (82 FR 24786, May 30, 2017), we do not support the Council’s recommendation to extend the duck season framework closing date to January 31 at this time. We note that the current framework opening and closing dates were developed through a cooperative effort between all four Flyway Councils and that framework dates are only one of several components that comprise the regulatory packages utilized in AHM. Regulatory packages also consider season length, daily bag limits, and shooting hours. The current regulatory packages in the Mississippi Flyway should remain unchanged until revisions to the AHM protocols have been completed. Those efforts will include examination of duck harvest management objectives, model updates, and revisions to regulatory packages, including framework dates. We prefer that the issue of framework dates and any other component of the regulatory packages be addressed through this cooperative process and would prefer a comprehensive approach to revising regulatory packages rather than making incremental changes. Thus, the regulatory alternatives proposed in the August 3, 2017, Federal Register (82 FR 36308) will be used for the 2018–19 hunting season (see accompanying table at the end of this document for specific information). In 2005, the AHM regulatory alternatives were modified to consist only of the maximum season lengths, framework dates, and bag limits for total ducks and mallards. Restrictions for certain species within these frameworks that are not VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:02 Oct 02, 2017 Jkt 244001 covered by existing harvest strategies will be addressed in the proposed frameworks rule in early December 2017. For those species with specific harvest strategies (pintails, black ducks, and scaup), those strategies will again be used for the 2018–19 hunting season. D. Special Seasons/Species Management i. September Teal Seasons Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended that early teal seasons in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin be made operational beginning with the 2018 season and remain operational thereafter. The frameworks would follow the teal harvest strategy, except that Iowa would retain the option of selecting an early September duck season in lieu of an early teal season. Iowa would choose between an early September duck season or early teal season beginning with the 2018–19 hunting season, and this decision will remain in effect under current frameworks. The Council also recommended that Kentucky and Tennessee be granted operational 4-day teal only seasons when 16-day teal seasons are offered for the 2018–19 season and beyond. If a 9-day teal season is offered, the Council recommends that both States would revert to their original 5-day wood duck and teal seasons. The Kentucky and Tennessee seasons would follow the existing teal harvest strategy. 16. Doves Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Councils recommended that the framework closing date for mourning doves in the Eastern Management Unit (EMU) be moved from January 15 to January 31 for the 2018–19 hunting season, and that the National Mourning Dove Harvest Strategy be revised accordingly. The Central and Mississippi Flyway Councils recommended that the National Mourning Dove Harvest Strategy be revised to allow a fixed opening framework date of September 14 for the Texas South Dove Zone. Service Response: We agree with the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway Councils’ recommendation to extend the EMU’s framework closing date to January 31. A review of the available data on mourning dove nesting phenology in the EMU indicated that <1 percent of all mourning dove nest initiations detected occurred in January; thus, the impacts on mourning dove reproduction will be minimal. Furthermore, the maximum additional PO 00000 Frm 00010 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 46013 harvest expected as a result of this action is negligible in relation to the number of mourning doves in the EMU (<0.2 percent of the fall population). Therefore, we do not expect that this action will result in significant impacts to the EMU mourning dove population. However, we also note that nesting phenology may have changed in some areas since the studies cited in the EMU recommendation were conducted and may continue to change in the future. Thus, framework dates later than January 31 should not be considered without new studies that document contemporary nesting phenology throughout the EMU, which would allow assessment of the impact of a later closing date on mourning dove productivity. Regarding the Central and Mississippi Flyway Councils’ recommendation, we supported a change in the opening date to September 14 for the Texas South Dove Zone (82 FR 24794, May 30, 2017). However, we noted that the National Dove Harvest Strategy used to guide dove harvest management had language that did not allow the earlier date, and would need to be revised. Therefore, we delayed implementation of the earlier opening date until the 2018–19 season. We support the recommendations and the change made to the Harvest Strategy, which will allow the earlier framework date in the Texas South Dove Zone for the 2018–19 season. 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 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 E:\FR\FM\03OCP1.SGM 03OCP1 46014 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 190 / Tuesday, October 3, 2017 / Proposed Rules asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS 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. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:02 Oct 02, 2017 Jkt 244001 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 August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308); see that document for descriptions of our actions to ensure compliance with the following statutes and Executive Orders: • National Environmental Policy Act; • Endangered Species Act; • Regulatory Flexibility Act; • Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act; • Paperwork Reduction Act; • Unfunded Mandates Reform Act; and PO 00000 Frm 00011 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 • Executive Orders 12630, 12866, 12988, 13132, 13175, 13211, 13563, and 13771. List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20 Exports, Hunting, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation, Wildlife. Authority The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 2018–19 hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703–711, 16 U.S.C. 712, and 16 U.S.C. 742 a–j. Dated: September 21, 2017. Todd D. Willens, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\03OCP1.SGM 03OCP1 asabaliauskas on DSKBBXCHB2PROD with PROPOSALS PO 00000 ATLANTIC FLYWAY MOD LIB RES Beginning Shooting Time 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunr1se 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise 1/2 hr before sunrise 1/2 hr. before sunrise Ending Shooting T1me Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Sunset Opening Date Oct1 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Oct1 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Oct 1 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Oct 1 Sat nearest Sept 24 Sat nearest Sept 24 Closing Date Jan. 20 Last Sunday 1n Jan. Last Sunday 1n Jan. Sun. nearest Last Sunday Jan. 20 1n Jan. Last Sunday 1n Jan. Season Length (in days) 30 45 60 30 45 60 39 60 74 60 86 107 Daily Bag 3 6 6 3 6 6 3 6 6 4 7 7 4/2 2/1 4/1 4/2 3/1 5/1 5/2 3/1 5/2 7/2 Frm 00012 RES MISSISSIPPI FLYWAY MOD LIB Fmt 4702 Sfmt 9990 Sun. nearest Last Sunday Last Sunday Jan. 20 1n Jan. 1n Jan RES CENTRAL FLYWAY (a) MOD LIB Sun. nearest Last Sunday Last Sunday Jan. 20 1n Jan. 1n Jan. PACIFIC FLYWAY (b)( c) LIB RES MOD E:\FR\FM\03OCP1.SGM Species/Sex Limits within the Overall Daily Bag Limit Mallard (Total/Female) (a) 03OCP1 (b) (c) 3/1 412 In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit, all regulations would be the same as the remainder of the Central Flyway, with the exception of season length. Additional days would be allowed under the various alternatives as follows: restrictive- 12, moderate and liberal- 23. Under all alternatives, additional days must be on or after the Saturday nearest December 10. In the Columbia Basin Mallard Management Unit, all regulations would be the same as the remainder of the Pacific Flyway, with the exception of season length. Under all alternatives except the liberal alternative, an additional? days would be allowed. In Alaska, framework dates, bag limits, and season length would be different from the remainder of the Pacific Flyway. The bag limit (depending on the area) would be 5-8 under the restrictive alternative, and 7-10 under the moderate and liberal alternatives. Under all alternatives, season length would be 107 days and framework dates would be Sep. 1- Jan. 26. Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 190 / Tuesday, October 3, 2017 / Proposed Rules Jkt 244001 [FR Doc. 2017–21195 Filed 10–2–17; 8:45 a.m.] 16:02 Oct 02, 2017 BILLING CODE 4333–15–C VerDate Sep<11>2014 REGULATORY ALTERNATIVES FOR DUCK HUNTING DURING THE 2018-19 SEASON 46015 EP03OC17.000</GPH>

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 190 (Tuesday, October 3, 2017)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 46011-46015]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-21195]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2017-0028; FF09M21200-178-FXMB1231099BPP0]
RIN 1018-BB73


Migratory Bird Hunting; Supplemental Proposals for Migratory Game 
Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2018-19 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 this year to establish annual hunting regulations 
for certain migratory game birds for the 2018-19 hunting season. This 
supplement to that proposed rule provides the regulatory alternatives 
for the 2018-19 duck hunting seasons, announces the Service Migratory 
Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) and Flyway Council meetings, and 
provides Flyway Council recommendations resulting from their March 
meetings.

DATES: Comments: We will accept comments on this proposed rule and any 
subsequent proposed rules resulting from upcoming SRC meetings until 
January 15, 2018.
    Meetings: The SRC will meet to consider and develop proposed 
regulations for the 2018-19 migratory game bird hunting seasons on 
October 17-18, 2017. Meetings on both days will commence at 
approximately 8:30 a.m.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the 
following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-HQ-
MB-2017-0028.
     U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2017-0028; Division of Policy, Performance, and 
Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 
Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.


[[Page 46012]]


We will not accept emailed or faxed comments. We will post all comments 
on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that your entire 
submission--including any personal identifying information--will be 
posted on the Web site. See the Public Comments section, below, for 
more information.
    Meetings: The October 17-18, 2017, SRC meeting will be at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Office, 5600 American 
Boulevard, Bloomington, MN 55437.

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: 

New Process for the Annual Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

    As part of DOI's retrospective regulatory review, 2 years ago we 
developed a schedule for migratory game bird hunting regulations that 
is more efficient and provides hunting season dates much earlier than 
was possible under the old process. The new process makes planning 
easier for the States and all parties interested in migratory bird 
hunting. Beginning in the summer of 2015, with the development of the 
2016-17 hunting seasons, we started promulgating our annual migratory 
game bird hunting regulations using a new schedule that combines the 
previously used early- and late-season regulatory processes into a 
single process. We make decisions for harvest management based on 
predictions derived from long-term biological information and 
established harvest strategies and, therefore, can establish migratory 
bird hunting seasons much earlier than the system we used for many 
years. Under the new process, we develop proposed hunting season 
frameworks for a given year in the fall of the prior year. We then 
finalize those frameworks a few months later, thereby enabling the 
State agencies to select and publish their season dates in early 
summer. We provided a detailed overview of the new process in the 
August 3, 2017, Federal Register (82 FR 36308). This proposed rule is 
the second in a series of proposed and final rules for the 
establishment of the 2018-19 hunting seasons.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The SRC will meet October 17-18, 2017, to review information on the 
current status of migratory game birds, consider Flyway Council 
recommendations, and develop 2018-19 migratory game bird regulations 
recommendations for these species. In accordance with Departmental 
policy, these meetings are open to public observation. You may submit 
written comments to the Service on the matters discussed.

Regulatory Schedule for 2017-18

    On August 3, 2017, we published a proposal to amend title 50 of the 
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 20 (82 FR 36308). 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 additional supplemental proposals for public comment in the 
Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, and other information 
become available. Major steps in the 2018-19 regulatory cycle relating 
to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications were 
illustrated in the diagram at the end of the August 3, 2017, proposed 
rule (82 FR 36308).
    All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining hunting 
frameworks and guidelines are organized under the numbered headings set 
forth in the August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308). Later 
sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to numbered 
items requiring attention. Therefore, it is important to note that we 
will omit those items requiring no attention, and remaining numbered 
items will be discontinuous, thereby making the list appear incomplete.
    The regulatory alternatives for the 2018-19 duck hunting seasons 
are shown at the end of this document. We plan to publish proposed 
season frameworks in mid-December 2017. We plan to publish final season 
frameworks in late February 2018.

Review of Public Comments

    This proposed rulemaking describes recommended changes or specific 
preliminary proposals that vary from the 2017-18 regulations and issues 
requiring discussion, action, or the attention of the States or tribes. 
We will publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we 
develop final frameworks for the 2018-19 season. We seek additional 
information and comments on 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 August 
3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308). Only those categories requiring 
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 regulation changes be restricted to one step per year, both when 
restricting as well as liberalizing hunting regulations.
    Service Response: As we stated in the August 3, 2017, proposed rule 
(82 FR 36308), we intend to continue use of Adaptive Harvest Management 
(AHM) to help determine appropriate duck-hunting regulations for the 
2018-19 season. AHM is a tool that permits sound resource decisions in 
the face of uncertain regulatory impacts, as well as providing a 
mechanism for reducing that uncertainty over time. The current AHM 
protocol is used to evaluate four alternative regulatory levels based 
on the population status of mallards and their breeding habitat (i.e., 
abundance of ponds). Special hunting restrictions are enacted for 
certain species, such as canvasbacks, black ducks, scaup, and pintails.
    Regarding the Mississippi Flyway Council recommendation to limit 
regulatory changes to one step per year, we recognize the longstanding 
interest by the Council to impose a one-step constraint on regulatory 
changes. We note that the Central and Mississippi Flyways have worked 
with Service staff during the past 3 years to revisit the AHM protocol 
for managing harvest of mid-continent mallards. This effort has 
included a discussion of appropriate management objectives, regulatory 
packages, and management of non-mallard stocks. These discussions are 
the appropriate venue to discuss what role, if any, a one-step 
constraint might play in management of waterfowl in the Central and 
Mississippi Flyways. Such discussions should include the potential 
impact of a one-step constraint on the

[[Page 46013]]

frequency of when the liberal, moderate, and restrictive packages would 
be recommended. On a final note, while we recognize the Council's 
concern about potentially communicating a large regulatory change to 
hunters, we have concerns about the appropriateness of a one-step 
constraint in situations when the status of the waterfowl resource may 
warrant such a measure. We look forward to continued work with the 
Flyway Councils on this issue.
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 2017-18. The Mississippi 
Flyway Council further recommended changing the framework closing date 
to January 31 during ``moderate'' and ``liberal'' seasons.
    Service Response: As we stated in final rules published last year 
(81 FR 17302, March 28, 2016) and earlier this year (82 FR 24786, May 
30, 2017), we do not support the Council's recommendation to extend the 
duck season framework closing date to January 31 at this time. We note 
that the current framework opening and closing dates were developed 
through a cooperative effort between all four Flyway Councils and that 
framework dates are only one of several components that comprise the 
regulatory packages utilized in AHM. Regulatory packages also consider 
season length, daily bag limits, and shooting hours. The current 
regulatory packages in the Mississippi Flyway should remain unchanged 
until revisions to the AHM protocols have been completed. Those efforts 
will include examination of duck harvest management objectives, model 
updates, and revisions to regulatory packages, including framework 
dates. We prefer that the issue of framework dates and any other 
component of the regulatory packages be addressed through this 
cooperative process and would prefer a comprehensive approach to 
revising regulatory packages rather than making incremental changes.
    Thus, the regulatory alternatives proposed in the August 3, 2017, 
Federal Register (82 FR 36308) will be used for the 2018-19 hunting 
season (see accompanying table at the end of this document for specific 
information). In 2005, the AHM regulatory alternatives were modified to 
consist only of the maximum season lengths, framework dates, and bag 
limits for total ducks and mallards. Restrictions for certain species 
within these frameworks that are not covered by existing harvest 
strategies will be addressed in the proposed frameworks rule in early 
December 2017. For those species with specific harvest strategies 
(pintails, black ducks, and scaup), those strategies will again be used 
for the 2018-19 hunting season.
D. Special Seasons/Species Management
i. September Teal Seasons
    Council Recommendations: The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended 
that early teal seasons in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin be made 
operational beginning with the 2018 season and remain operational 
thereafter. The frameworks would follow the teal harvest strategy, 
except that Iowa would retain the option of selecting an early 
September duck season in lieu of an early teal season. Iowa would 
choose between an early September duck season or early teal season 
beginning with the 2018-19 hunting season, and this decision will 
remain in effect under current frameworks. The Council also recommended 
that Kentucky and Tennessee be granted operational 4-day teal only 
seasons when 16-day teal seasons are offered for the 2018-19 season and 
beyond. If a 9-day teal season is offered, the Council recommends that 
both States would revert to their original 5-day wood duck and teal 
seasons. The Kentucky and Tennessee seasons would follow the existing 
teal harvest strategy.
16. Doves
    Council Recommendations: The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils recommended that the framework closing date for mourning doves 
in the Eastern Management Unit (EMU) be moved from January 15 to 
January 31 for the 2018-19 hunting season, and that the National 
Mourning Dove Harvest Strategy be revised accordingly. The Central and 
Mississippi Flyway Councils recommended that the National Mourning Dove 
Harvest Strategy be revised to allow a fixed opening framework date of 
September 14 for the Texas South Dove Zone.
    Service Response: We agree with the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway 
Councils' recommendation to extend the EMU's framework closing date to 
January 31. A review of the available data on mourning dove nesting 
phenology in the EMU indicated that <1 percent of all mourning dove 
nest initiations detected occurred in January; thus, the impacts on 
mourning dove reproduction will be minimal. Furthermore, the maximum 
additional harvest expected as a result of this action is negligible in 
relation to the number of mourning doves in the EMU (<0.2 percent of 
the fall population). Therefore, we do not expect that this action will 
result in significant impacts to the EMU mourning dove population. 
However, we also note that nesting phenology may have changed in some 
areas since the studies cited in the EMU recommendation were conducted 
and may continue to change in the future. Thus, framework dates later 
than January 31 should not be considered without new studies that 
document contemporary nesting phenology throughout the EMU, which would 
allow assessment of the impact of a later closing date on mourning dove 
productivity.
    Regarding the Central and Mississippi Flyway Councils' 
recommendation, we supported a change in the opening date to September 
14 for the Texas South Dove Zone (82 FR 24794, May 30, 2017). However, 
we noted that the National Dove Harvest Strategy used to guide dove 
harvest management had language that did not allow the earlier date, 
and would need to be revised. Therefore, we delayed implementation of 
the earlier opening date until the 2018-19 season. We support the 
recommendations and the change made to the Harvest Strategy, which will 
allow the earlier framework date in the Texas South Dove Zone for the 
2018-19 season.

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

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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.
    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 August 3, 2017, proposed rule (82 FR 36308); 
see that document for descriptions of our actions to ensure compliance 
with the following statutes and Executive Orders:
     National Environmental Policy Act;
     Endangered Species Act;
     Regulatory Flexibility Act;
     Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act;
     Paperwork Reduction Act;
     Unfunded Mandates Reform Act; and
     Executive Orders 12630, 12866, 12988, 13132, 13175, 13211, 
13563, and 13771.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 20

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

Authority

    The rules that eventually will be promulgated for the 2018-19 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 16 U.S.C. 712, 
and 16 U.S.C. 742 a-j.

    Dated: September 21, 2017.
Todd D. Willens,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
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[FR Doc. 2017-21195 Filed 10-2-17; 8:45 a.m.]
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