Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2020-21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal Proposals; Notice of Meetings, 55120-55129 [2019-22151]

Download as PDF 55120 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules initially arranges with a railroad for transportation of freight pursuant to the rail carrier’s tariff; or (2) when a rail carrier changes the terms of its demurrage tariff. The modification sought here makes three changes to the existing collection, as follows: (1) Onetime adjustments to the Class I railroads’ billing systems to (a) include information on demurrage invoices, (b) to take appropriate action to ensure that the demurrage invoices are accurate and warranted, and (2) make an annual adjustment to the Class I carriers’ invoicing practices to invoice the shipper when the warehouseman and the shipper reach agreement for the serving Class I carrier to invoice the shipper (estimated 60 agreements). Total Burden Hours (annually including all respondents): 1,329.7 hours. Consistent with the existing, approved information collection, Board staff estimates that: (1) Seven Class I carriers would each take on 15 new customers each year (105 hours); (2) each of the seven Class I carriers would update its demurrage tariffs annually (7 hours); (3) 677 non-Class I carriers would each take on one new customer a year (677 hours); and (4) each of the non-Class I carriers would update its demurrage tariffs every three years (225.7 hours annualized). For the modification to Class I carriers’ invoicing requirements, Board staff estimates that, on average, each Class I rail carrier would have a one-time burden of 40 hours (280 total hours). Amortized over three years, this onetime burden equals 93.3 hours per year. For the modification requiring each Class I carrier to ensure that the demurrage charges are accurate and warranted, Board staff estimates that, on average, each Class I carrier would have a one-time burden of 80 hours (560 total hours) to establish or modify appropriate protocols and procedures. Amortized over three years, this onetime burden equals 186.7 hours per year. For the modification adding a shipper invoicing requirement when a warehouseman and shipper have agreed and notified the Class I carrier, Board staff estimates that annually seven Class I carriers would each receive 60 requests per year for additional shipper invoices at five minutes per invoice (35 hours). The total hour burdens are also set forth in the table below. TABLE—TOTAL BURDEN HOURS [per year] Existing annual burden (hours) khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Respondents Existing annual update burden (hours) Estimated one-time burden for additional data (hours) Estimated one-time burden for appropriate protocols (hours) Estimated annual burden for invoicing agreement (hours) Total yearly burden hours 7 Class I Carriers ..................................... 677 Non-Class I Carriers ......................... 105 677 7 225.7 93.3 ........................ 186.7 ........................ 35 ........................ 427 902.7 Totals ................................................ 782 232.7 93.3 186.7 35 1,329.7 Total ‘‘Non-hour Burden’’ Cost: There are no other costs identified because filings are submitted electronically to the Board. Needs and Uses: Demurrage is a charge that railroads assess their customers for detaining rail cars beyond a specified amount of time. It both compensates railroads for expenses incurred for that rail car and serves as a penalty for undue car detention to promote efficiency. Demurrage is subject to the Board’s jurisdiction under 49 U.S.C. 10702 and section 10746. A railroad and its customers may enter into demurrage contracts without providing notice, but, in the absence of such contracts, demurrage will be governed by the railroad’s demurrage tariff. Under 49 CFR 1333.3, a railroad’s ability to charge demurrage pursuant to its tariff is conditional on its having given, prior to rail car placement, actual notice of the demurrage tariff to the person receiving rail cars for loading and unloading. Once a shipper receives a notice as to a particular tariff, additional notices are required only when the tariff changes materially. The parties rely on the information in the demurrage tariffs to avoid demurrage disputes, and the Board uses the tariffs VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 to adjudicate demurrage disputes that come before the agency. As described in more detail above in the NPRM, the Board is amending the rules that apply to this collection of demurrage disclosure requirements to require the inclusion of additional information in the billing invoices issued by Class I carriers, to require Class I carriers to ensure that demurrage charges are accurate and warranted, and to require Class I carriers to invoice the shipper when the warehouseman and the shipper reach agreement for the Class I carrier to do so. The collection by the Board of this information, and the agency’s use of this information, enables the Board to meet its statutory duties. [FR Doc. 2019–22202 Filed 10–11–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915–01–P PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 20 [Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0004; FF09M21200–189–FXMB1231099BPP0] RIN 1018–BD89 Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2020–21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal Proposals; Notice of Meetings Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior. ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of supplemental information. AGENCY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter the Service or we) proposes to establish annual hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds for the 2020–21 hunting season. We annually prescribe outside limits (frameworks) within which States may select hunting seasons. This proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) meetings, describes the proposed regulatory SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules alternatives for the 2020–21 duck hunting seasons, and requests proposals from Indian tribes that wish to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on Federal Indian reservations and ceded lands. Migratory bird hunting seasons provide opportunities for recreation and sustenance; aid Federal, State, and tribal governments in the management of migratory game birds; and permit harvests at levels compatible with migratory game bird population status and habitat conditions. DATES: Comments: You may comment on the general harvest strategy and the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2020–21 season until November 15, 2019. Following subsequent Federal Register documents, you will be given an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed frameworks by January 15, 2020. Tribes must submit proposals and related comments on or before December 1, 2019. Meetings: The SRC will conduct a meeting on October 8–9, 2019, to consider and develop proposed regulations for the 2020–21 migratory game bird hunting seasons. Meetings on both days are open to the public and will commence at approximately 8:00 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–2019– 0004. • U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–HQ– MB–2019–0004; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management 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 your entire submission—including any personal identifying information—will be posted on the website. See the Public Comments section, below, for more information. Meetings: The October 8–9, 2019, SRC meeting will be at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 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: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Process for the Annual Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations Beginning in the summer of 2015, with the development of the 2016–17 hunting seasons, we now make decisions for migratory bird harvest management based on predictions derived from long-term biological information and established harvest strategies. Under this 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. This proposed rule is the first in a series of proposed and final rulemaking documents for the establishment of the 2020–21 hunting seasons. Background and Overview Migratory game birds are those bird species so designated in conventions between the United States and several foreign nations for the protection and management of these birds. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703–712), the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to determine when ‘‘hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, purchase, shipment, transportation, carriage, or export of any * * * bird, or any part, nest, or egg’’ of migratory game birds can take place, and to adopt regulations for this purpose. These regulations are written after giving due regard to ‘‘the zones of temperature and to the distribution, abundance, economic value, breeding habits, and times and lines of migratory flight of such birds’’ and are updated annually (16 U.S.C. 704(a)). This responsibility has been delegated to the Service as the lead Federal agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United States. However, migratory game bird management is a cooperative effort of State, Tribal, and Federal governments. The Service develops migratory game bird hunting regulations by establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting. Acknowledging regional differences in hunting conditions, the Service has administratively divided the Nation into four Flyways for the primary purpose of managing migratory game birds. Each Flyway (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific) has a Flyway Council, a formal organization generally composed of one member from each State and Province in that Flyway. The Flyway Councils, established through the Association of Fish and Wildlife PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55121 Agencies, also assist in researching and providing migratory game bird management information for Federal, State, and Provincial governments, as well as private conservation entities and the general public. The process for adopting migratory game bird hunting regulations, located in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 20, is constrained by three primary factors. Legal and administrative considerations dictate how long the rulemaking process will last. Most importantly, however, the biological cycle of migratory game birds controls the timing of datagathering activities and thus the dates on which these results are available for consideration and deliberation. For the regulatory cycle, Service biologists gather, analyze, and interpret biological survey data and provide this information to all those involved in the process through a series of published status reports and presentations to Flyway Councils and other interested parties. Because the Service is required to take abundance of migratory game birds and other factors into consideration, the Service undertakes a number of surveys throughout the year in conjunction with Service Regional Offices, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and Provincial wildlifemanagement agencies. To determine the appropriate frameworks for each species, we consider factors such as population size and trend, geographical distribution, annual breeding effort, condition of breeding and wintering habitat, number of hunters, and anticipated harvest. After frameworks are established for season lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting, States may select season dates, bag limits, and other regulatory options for the hunting seasons. States may always be more conservative in their selections than the Federal frameworks, but never more liberal. Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings The SRC conducted an open meeting on April 23, 2019, to discuss preliminary issues for the 2020–21 regulations, and will conduct another meeting on October 8–9, 2019 to review information on the current status of migratory game birds and develop 2020–21 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. See DATES and ADDRESSES for information about these meetings. E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55122 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules Notice of Intent To Establish Open Seasons This document announces our intent to establish open hunting seasons and daily bag and possession limits for certain designated groups or species of migratory game birds for 2020–21 in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, under §§ 20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K of 50 CFR part 20. For the 2020–21 migratory game bird hunting season, we will propose regulations for certain designated members of the avian families Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans); Columbidae (doves and pigeons); Gruidae (cranes); Rallidae (rails, coots, moorhens, and gallinules); and Scolopacidae (woodcock and snipe). We describe these proposals under Proposed 2020–21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) in this document. We annually publish definitions of flyways and management units, and a description of the data used in and the factors affecting the regulatory process (see June 4, 2018, Federal Register (83 FR 25738) for the latest definitions and descriptions). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Regulatory Schedule for 2020–21 This document is the first in a series of proposed, supplemental, and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting regulations. We will publish additional supplemental proposals for public comment in the Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, and other information become available. Major steps in the 2020–21 regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register notifications are illustrated in the diagram at the end of this proposed rule. All publication dates of Federal Register documents are target dates. All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining hunting frameworks and guidelines are organized under numbered headings. These headings are: 1. Ducks A. General Harvest Strategy B. Regulatory Alternatives C. Zones and Split Seasons D. Special Seasons/Species Management i. September Teal Seasons ii. September Teal/Wood Duck Seasons iii. Eastern Mallards iv. Black Ducks v. Canvasbacks vi. Pintails vii. Scaup viii. Mottled Ducks ix. Wood Ducks x. Youth Hunt xi. Mallard Management Units xii. Other VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 2. Sea Ducks 3. Mergansers 4. Canada Geese A. Special Early Seasons B. Regular Seasons C. Special Late Seasons 5. White-fronted Geese 6. Brant 7. Snow and Ross’s (Light) Geese 8. Swans 9. Sandhill Cranes 10. Coots 11. Moorhens and Gallinules 12. Rails 13. Snipe 14. Woodcock 15. Band-tailed Pigeons 16. Doves 17. Alaska 18. Hawaii 19. Puerto Rico 20. Virgin Islands 21. Falconry 22. Other contact: Tina Chouinard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 606 Browns Church Road, Jackson, TN 38305; 731–432– 0981; tina_chouinard@fws.gov. Requests for Tribal Proposals Background Later sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to numbered items requiring your attention. Therefore, it is important to note that we will omit those items requiring no attention, so remaining numbered items will be discontinuous, making the list appear incomplete. The proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2020–21 duck hunting seasons are contained at the end of this document. We plan to publish final duck regulatory alternatives and proposed season frameworks in midDecember 2019. We plan to publish final season frameworks in late February 2020. Review of Public Comments This proposed rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2020–21 duck hunting seasons. This proposed rulemaking also describes other recommended changes or specific preliminary proposals that vary from the 2019–20 regulations and issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of the States or tribes. We will publish responses to all proposals and written comments when we develop final frameworks for the 2020–21 season. We seek additional information and comments on this proposed rule. Consolidation of Rulemaking Documents For administrative purposes, this document consolidates the notice of our intent to establish open migratory game bird hunting seasons and the request for tribal proposals with the preliminary proposals for the annual hunting regulations-development process. We will publish the remaining proposed and final rulemaking documents separately. For inquiries on tribal guidelines and proposals, tribes should PO 00000 Frm 00050 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 Beginning with the 1985–86 hunting season, we have employed guidelines described in the June 4, 1985, Federal Register (50 FR 23467) to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on Federal Indian reservations (including off-reservation trust lands) and ceded lands. We developed these guidelines in response to tribal requests for our recognition of their reserved hunting rights, and for some tribes, recognition of their authority to regulate hunting by both tribal and nontribal members throughout their reservations. The guidelines include possibilities for: (1) On-reservation hunting by both tribal and nontribal members, with hunting by nontribal members on some reservations to take place within Federal frameworks, but on dates different from those selected by the surrounding State(s); (2) On-reservation hunting by tribal members only, outside of usual Federal frameworks for season dates, season length, and daily bag and possession limits; and (3) Off-reservation hunting by tribal members on ceded lands, outside of usual framework dates and season length, with some added flexibility in daily bag and possession limits. In all cases, tribal regulations established under the guidelines must be consistent with the annual March 11 to August 31 closed season mandated by the 1916 Convention Between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds (Convention). The guidelines are applicable to those tribes that have reserved hunting rights on Federal Indian reservations (including offreservation trust lands) and ceded lands. They also may be applied to the establishment of migratory game bird hunting regulations for nontribal members on all lands within the exterior boundaries of reservations where tribes have full wildlifemanagement authority over such hunting, or where the tribes and affected States otherwise have reached agreement over hunting by nontribal members on non-Indian lands. Tribes usually have the authority to regulate migratory game bird hunting by nonmembers on Indian-owned reservation lands, subject to our approval. The question of jurisdiction is E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS more complex on reservations that include lands owned by non-Indians, especially when the surrounding States have established or intend to establish regulations governing migratory bird hunting by non-Indians on these lands. In such cases, we encourage the tribes and States to reach agreement on regulations that would apply throughout the reservations. When appropriate, we will consult with a tribe and State with the aim of facilitating an accord. We also will consult jointly with tribal and State officials in the affected States where tribes may wish to establish special hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded lands. It is incumbent upon the tribe and/or the State to request consultation as a result of the proposal being published in the Federal Register. We will not presume to make a determination, without being advised by either a tribe or a State, that any issue is or is not worthy of formal consultation. One of the guidelines provides for the continuation of tribal members’ harvest of migratory game birds on reservations where such harvest is a customary practice. We do not oppose this harvest, provided it does not take place during the closed season required by the Convention, and it is not so large as to adversely affect the status of the migratory game bird resource. Since the inception of these guidelines, we have reached annual agreement with tribes for migratory game bird hunting by tribal members on their lands or on lands where they have reserved hunting rights. We will continue to consult with tribes that wish to reach a mutual agreement on hunting regulations for on-reservation hunting by tribal members. Tribes should not view the guidelines as inflexible. These guidelines provide appropriate opportunity to accommodate the reserved hunting rights and management authority of Indian tribes while also ensuring that the migratory game bird resource receives necessary protection. The conservation of this important international resource is paramount. Use of the guidelines is not required if a tribe wishes to observe the hunting regulations established by the State(s) in which the reservation is located. Details Needed in Tribal Proposals Tribes that wish to use the guidelines to establish special hunting regulations for the 2020–21 migratory game bird hunting season should submit a proposal that includes: (1) The requested migratory game bird hunting season dates and other details regarding the proposed regulations; (2) harvest VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 anticipated under the proposed regulations; and (3) tribal capabilities to enforce migratory game bird hunting regulations. For those situations where it could be shown that failure to limit tribal harvest could seriously impact the migratory game bird resource, we also request information on the methods employed to monitor harvest and any potential steps taken to limit level of harvest. A tribe that desires the earliest possible opening of the migratory game bird season for nontribal members should specify this request in its proposal, rather than request a date that might not be within the final Federal frameworks. Similarly, unless a tribe wishes to set more restrictive regulations than Federal regulations will permit for nontribal members, the proposal should request the same daily bag and possession limits and season length for migratory game birds that Federal regulations are likely to permit the States in the Flyway in which the reservation is located. Tribal Proposal Procedures We will publish details of tribal proposals for public review in later Federal Register documents. Because of the time required for review by us and the public, Indian tribes that desire special migratory game bird hunting regulations for the 2020–21 hunting season should submit their proposals no later than December 1, 2019. Tribes should direct inquiries regarding the guidelines and proposals to the person listed above under the caption Consolidation of Rulemaking Documents. Tribes that request special migratory game bird hunting regulations for tribal members on ceded lands should send a courtesy copy of the proposal to officials in the affected State(s). Public Comments The Department of the Interior’s policy is, whenever practicable, to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed regulations. Before promulgation of final migratory game bird hunting regulations, we will take into consideration all comments we receive. Such comments, and any additional information we receive, may lead to final regulations that differ from these proposals. You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. We will not accept comments sent by email or fax or to an PO 00000 Frm 00051 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55123 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 this proposed rule, will be available for public inspection on http:// www.regulations.gov, or by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. For each series of proposed rulemakings, we will establish specific comment periods. We will consider, but 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. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Consideration The programmatic document, ‘‘Second Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual Regulations Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (EIS 20130139),’’ filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 24, 2013, addresses NEPA compliance by the Service for issuance of the annual framework regulations for hunting of migratory game bird species. We published a notice of availability in the Federal Register on May 31, 2013 (78 FR 32686), and our Record of Decision on July 26, 2013 (78 FR 45376). We also address NEPA compliance for waterfowl hunting frameworks through the annual preparation of separate environmental assessments, the most recent being ‘‘Duck Hunting Regulations for 2019– 20,’’ with its corresponding April 2019 finding of no significant impact. In addition, an August 1985 environmental assessment entitled ‘‘Guidelines for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55124 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands’’ is available from the address indicated under the caption FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Endangered Species Act Consideration Before issuance of the 2020–21 migratory game bird hunting regulations, we will comply with provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531–1543; hereinafter the Act), to ensure that hunting is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species designated as endangered or threatened or modify or destroy its critical habitat and is consistent with conservation programs for those species. Consultations under section 7 of the Act may cause us to change proposals in future supplemental proposed rulemaking documents. Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563) Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will review all significant rules. OIRA has reviewed this rule and has determined that this rule is significant because it would have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy. E.O. 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation’s regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements. An economic analysis was prepared for the 2019–20 season. This analysis was based on data from the 2011 and 2016 National Hunting and Fishing Survey, the most recent years for which data are available (see discussion in Regulatory Flexibility Act section below). This analysis estimated consumer surplus for three alternatives for duck hunting (estimates for other species are not quantified due to lack of data). The alternatives are (1) issue restrictive regulations allowing fewer days than those issued during the 2018– VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 19 season, (2) issue moderate regulations allowing more days than those in alternative 1, and (3) issue liberal regulations identical to the regulations in the 2018–19 season. For the 2019–20 season, we chose Alternative 3, with an estimated consumer surplus across all flyways of $263–$347 million with a mid-point estimate of $305 million. We also chose alternative 3 for the 2009–10 through 2018–19 seasons. We will select regulations for the 2020–21 season in December. The analysis is part of the record for this rule and is available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0004. Regulatory Flexibility Act The annual migratory bird hunting regulations have a significant economic impact on substantial numbers of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). We analyzed the economic impacts of the annual hunting regulations on small business entities in detail as part of the 1981 costbenefit analysis. This analysis was revised annually from 1990 through 1995. In 1995, the Service issued a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), which was subsequently updated in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2008, 2013, 2018, and 2019. The primary source of information about hunter expenditures for migratory game bird hunting is the National Hunting and Fishing Survey, which is generally conducted at 5-year intervals. The 2019 Analysis is based on the 2011 and 2016 National Hunting and Fishing Survey and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s County Business Patterns, from which it was estimated that migratory bird hunters would spend approximately $1.6 billion at small businesses in 2019. Copies of the Analysis are available upon request from the Division of Migratory Bird Management (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or from http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS–HQ–MB–2019–0004. Clarity of the Rule We are required by E.O. 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must: (a) Be logically organized; (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly; (c) Use clear language rather than jargon; (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible. PO 00000 Frm 00052 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To better help us revise the rule, your comments should be as specific as possible. For example, you should tell us the numbers of the sections or paragraphs that are unclearly written, which sections or sentences are too long, the sections where you feel lists or tables would be useful, etc. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act This proposed rule is a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. For the reasons outlined above, this rule would have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more. However, because this rule would establish hunting seasons, we do not plan to defer the effective date under the exemption contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1). Paperwork Reduction Act An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. This rule does not contain any new collection of information that require approval by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). OMB has previously approved the information collection requirements associated with migratory bird surveys and the procedures for establishing annual migratory bird hunting seasons under the following OMB control numbers: • 1018–0019, ‘‘North American Woodcock Singing Ground Survey’’ (expires 6/30/2021, and in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10, an agency may continue to conduct or sponsor this collection of information while the submission is pending at OMB). • 1018–0023, ‘‘Migratory Bird Surveys, 50 CFR 20.20’’ (expires 8/31/ 2020). Includes Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program, Migratory Bird Hunter Surveys, Sandhill Crane Survey, and Parts Collection Survey. • 1018–0171, ‘‘Establishment of Annual Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons, 50 CFR part 20’’ (expires 06/ 30/2021). Unfunded Mandates Reform Act We have determined and certify, in compliance with the requirements of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this proposed rulemaking would not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local or State government or private E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules entities. Therefore, this rule is not a ‘‘significant regulatory action’’ under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. Civil Justice Reform—Executive Order 12988 The Department, in promulgating this proposed rule, has determined that this proposed rule will not unduly burden the judicial system and that it meets the requirements of sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of E.O. 12988. Takings Implication Assessment In accordance with E.O. 12630, this proposed rule, authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, does not have significant takings implications and does not affect any constitutionally protected property rights. This rule would not result in the physical occupancy of property, the physical invasion of property, or the regulatory taking of any property. In fact, this rule would allow hunters to exercise otherwise unavailable privileges and, therefore, reduce restrictions on the use of private and public property. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Energy Effects—Executive Order 13211 E.O. 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy Effects when undertaking certain actions. While this proposed rule is a significant regulatory action under E.O. 12866, it is not expected to adversely affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this action is not a significant energy action and no Statement of Energy Effects is required. Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes In accordance with the President’s memorandum of April 29, 1994, ‘‘Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments’’ (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and 512 DM 2, we have evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and have determined that there are no effects on Indian trust resources. However, in this proposed rule, we solicit proposals for special migratory bird hunting regulations for certain tribes on Federal Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 2020–21 migratory bird hunting season. The resulting proposals will be contained in a separate proposed rule. By virtue of these actions, we have consulted with tribes affected by this rule. Federalism Effects Due to the migratory nature of certain species of birds, the Federal Government has been given responsibility over these species by the VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We annually prescribe frameworks from which the States make selections regarding the hunting of migratory birds, and we employ guidelines to establish special regulations on Federal Indian reservations and ceded lands. This process preserves the ability of the States and tribes to determine which seasons meet their individual needs. Any State or Indian tribe may be more restrictive than the Federal frameworks at any time. The frameworks are developed in a cooperative process with the States and the Flyway Councils. This process allows States to participate in the development of frameworks from which they will make selections, thereby having an influence on their own regulations. These rules do not have a substantial direct effect on fiscal capacity, change the roles or responsibilities of Federal or State governments, or intrude on State policy or administration. Therefore, in accordance with E.O. 13132, these regulations do not have significant federalism effects and do not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism summary impact statement. Executive Order 13771—Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs This action is not subject to Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) because it is issued with respect to routine hunting and fishing activities. 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 2020–21 hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703–711, 712, and 742 a–j. Dated: October 1, 2019. Rob Wallace, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. Proposed 2020–21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) Pending current information on populations, harvest, and habitat conditions, and receipt of recommendations from the four Flyway Councils, we may defer specific regulatory proposals. No changes from the 2019–20 frameworks in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways are being proposed at this time. Other issues requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of the States or tribes are contained below: PO 00000 Frm 00053 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55125 1. Ducks Categories used to discuss issues related to duck harvest management are: (A) General Harvest Strategy, (B) Regulatory Alternatives, (C) Zones and Split Seasons, and (D) Special Seasons/ Species Management. Only those categories containing substantial recommendations are discussed below. A. General Harvest Strategy We propose to continue using adaptive harvest management (AHM) to help determine appropriate duckhunting regulations for the 2020–21 season. AHM permits sound resource decisions in the face of uncertain regulatory impacts and provides a mechanism for reducing that uncertainty over time. We use AHM to evaluate four alternative regulatory levels for duck hunting in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways based on the population status of mallards. We use AHM based on the population status of a suite of four species in the Atlantic Flyway (see below). We have specific hunting strategies for species of special concern, such as black ducks, scaup, and pintails. For additional information of AHM, see https://www.fws.gov/birds/ management/adaptive-harvestmanagement.php. Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways The prescribed regulatory alternative for the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways is based on the status of mallard populations that contribute primarily to each Flyway. In the Central and Mississippi Flyways, we set hunting regulations based on the status and dynamics of mid-continent mallards. Mid-continent mallards are those breeding in central North America (Federal survey strata 13–18, 20–50, and 75–77, and State surveys in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan). In the Pacific Flyway, we set hunting regulations based on the status and dynamics of western mallards. Western mallards are those breeding in Alaska and the northern Yukon Territory (as based on Federal surveys in strata 1–12), and in California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia (as based on State- or Province-conducted surveys). For the 2020–21 season, we recommend continuing to use independent optimization to determine the optimal regulatory choice for each mallard stock. This means that we would develop regulations for midcontinent mallards and western mallards independently, based upon the breeding stock that contributes E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 55126 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules primarily to each Flyway. We detailed implementation of this AHM decision framework for western and midcontinent mallards in the July 24, 2008, Federal Register (73 FR 43290). khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS Atlantic Flyway Last year, we implemented a multistock protocol for the Atlantic Flyway. The protocol is based on a suite of four species that represents the dynamics of duck harvest in the Atlantic Flyway and the various habitat types used by waterfowl throughout the Atlantic Flyway: Green-winged teal (Anas crecca), common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris), and wood duck (Aix sponsa). These species comprise more than 40 percent of the Atlantic Flyway’s total duck harvest, and they reflect regional variation in harvest composition. The selected species represent upland nesters in boreal and southern Canada (green-winged teal), over-water nesters in boreal Canada (ring-necked duck), cavity nesters in the United States and southern Canada (wood duck), and cavity nesters in boreal Canada (goldeneye). The most important winter waterfowl habitats in the Atlantic Flyway (salt marsh, freshwater marsh, tidal waters, freshwater ponds and lakes, rivers and streams) are important to at least one of these four species. Species selection was also influenced by our need for sufficient time series of estimates of annual abundance and estimates of harvest rate or annual harvest. The protocol has a harvest objective of no more than 98 percent of maximum sustainable long-term yield for any of the four species. Regulatory alternatives are the same as those used in the past (under eastern mallard AHM), except that the mallard bag limit is not prescribed by the optimal regulatory alternative as determined by the multi-stock AHM protocol. Further details on biological models used in the protocol, data sources, optimization methods, and simulation results are available at http://www.regulations.gov and on our website at https:// www.fws.gov/birds/index.php. Although season length in the Atlantic Flyway is determined by the proposed multi-stock protocol, the daily bag limit for black ducks will still be determined by the international black duck AHM harvest strategy. The mallard bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway will be based on a separate assessment of the harvest potential of eastern mallards (see section D.iii. Eastern Mallards below for further information). VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 Final 2020–21 AHM Protocol We will detail the final AHM protocol for the 2020–21 season in the supplemental proposed rule, which we will publish in late-September (see Schedule of Biological Information Availability, Regulations Meetings and Federal Register Publications for the 2020–21 Seasons at the end of this proposed rule for further information). We will propose a specific regulatory alternative in December for each of the Flyways to use for their 2020–21 seasons after status information becomes available in late August 2019. B. Regulatory Alternatives The basic structure of the current regulatory alternatives for AHM was adopted in 1997. In 2002, based upon recommendations from the Flyway Councils, we extended framework dates in the ‘‘moderate’’ and ‘‘liberal’’ regulatory alternatives by changing the opening date from the Saturday nearest October 1 to the Saturday nearest September 24, and by changing the closing date from the Sunday nearest January 20 to the last Sunday in January. These extended dates were made available with no associated penalty in season length or bag limits. Last year, we adopted a closing duck framework date of January 31 for the ‘‘moderate’’ and ‘‘liberal’’ alternatives in the Atlantic Flyway as part of the Atlantic Flyway’s new multi-stock AHM protocol (83 FR 47868; September 21, 2018). We subsequently further extended the framework closing date to January 31 across all four Flyways for the 2019–20 hunting season (84 FR 16152; April 17, 2019). More recently, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Act), signed into law on March 12, 2019 (Pub. L. 116–9), amended the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to specify that the framework closing date for hunting ducks, mergansers, and coots ‘‘shall be no later than January 31 of each year.’’ The Act also states that, with regard to these species, the Secretary shall ‘‘adopt the recommendation of each respective flyway council (as defined in section 20.152 of title 50, Code of Federal Regulations) for the Federal framework if the Secretary determines that the recommendation is consistent with science-based and sustainable harvest management.’’ Thus, as directed by the law, we have adjusted the framework closing date under each regulatory alternative for all four Flyways to January 31. For 2020–21, we propose to utilize the same regulatory alternatives that are in PO 00000 Frm 00054 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 effect for the 2019–20 season, with the exceptions noted above (see table below for specifics of the regulatory alternatives). Alternatives are specified for each Flyway and are designated as ‘‘RES’’ for the restrictive, ‘‘MOD’’ for the moderate, and ‘‘LIB’’ for the liberal alternative. We will finalize the regulatory alternatives for each of the Flyways for the 2020–21 seasons in early-December 2019. C. Zones and Split Seasons Zones and split seasons are ‘‘special regulations’’ designed to distribute hunting opportunities and harvests according to temporal, geographic, and demographic variability in waterfowl and other migratory game bird populations. For ducks, States have been allowed the option of dividing their allotted hunting days into two (or in some cases three) segments (splits) to take advantage of species-specific peaks of abundance or to satisfy hunters in different areas who want to hunt during the peak of waterfowl abundance in their area. However, the split-season option does not fully satisfy many States who wish to provide a more equitable distribution of harvest opportunities. Therefore, we also have allowed the establishment of independent seasons in up to four zones within States for the purpose of providing more equitable distribution of harvest opportunity for hunters throughout the State. In 1978, we prepared an environmental assessment (EA) on the use of zones to set duck hunting regulations. A primary tenet of the 1978 EA was that zoning would be for the primary purpose of providing equitable distribution of duck hunting opportunities within a State or region and not for the purpose of increasing total annual waterfowl harvest in the zoned areas. In fact, target harvest levels were to be adjusted downward if they exceeded traditional levels as a result of zoning. Subsequent to the 1978 EA, we conducted a review of the use of zones and split seasons in 1990. In 2011, we prepared a new EA analyzing some specific proposed changes to the zone and split-season guidelines. The current guidelines were then finalized in 2011 (76 FR 53536; August 26, 2011). Currently, every 5 years, States are afforded the opportunity to change the zoning and split-season configuration within which they set their annual duck hunting regulations. The next regularly scheduled open season for changes to zone and split-season configurations will be in 2020, for use during the 2021– 25 period. For those States wishing to change zone and split-season configurations in time for the 2021–25 E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules seasons, we will need to receive new configuration and zone descriptions by May 1, 2020. For the 2021–25 open season, the guidelines for duck zone and splitseason configurations are as follows: Guidelines for Duck Zones and Split Seasons The following zone and split-season guidelines apply only for the regular duck season: (1) A zone is a geographic area or portion of a State, with a contiguous boundary, for which independent dates may be selected for the regular duck season. (2) Consideration of changes for management-unit boundaries is not subject to the guidelines and provisions governing the use of zones and split seasons for ducks. (3) Only minor (less than a county in size) boundary changes will be allowed for any grandfathered arrangement, and changes are limited to the open season. (4) Once a zone and split option is selected during an open season, it must remain in place for the following 5 years. Any State may continue the configuration used in the previous 5year period. If changes are made, the zone and split-season configuration must conform to one of the following options: (1) No more than four zones with no splits; (2) Split seasons (no more than three segments) with no zones; or (3) No more than three zones with the option for two-way (two-segment) split seasons in one, two, or all zones. Grandfathered Zone and Split Arrangements khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS When we first implemented the zone and split guidelines in 1991, several States had completed experiments with zone and split arrangements different from our original options. We offered those States a one-time opportunity to continue (‘‘grandfather’’) those arrangements, with the stipulation that only minor changes could be made to zone boundaries. If any of those States VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 now wish to change their zone and split arrangement: (1) The new arrangement must conform to one of the three options identified above; and (2) The State cannot go back to the grandfathered arrangement that it previously had in place. Management Units We will continue to utilize the specific limitations previously established regarding the use of zones and split seasons in special management units, including the High Plains Mallard Management Unit. We note that the original justification and objectives established for the High Plains Mallard Management Unit provided for additional days of hunting opportunity at the end of the regular duck season. In order to maintain the integrity of the management unit, current guidelines prohibit simultaneous zoning and/or three-way split seasons within a management unit and the remainder of the State. Removal of this limitation would allow additional proliferation of zone and split configurations and compromise the original objectives of the management unit. D. Special Seasons/Species Management iii. Eastern Mallards For the Atlantic Flyway, under the proposed multi-stock AHM protocol for the Atlantic Flyway, the mallard bag limit is not prescribed by the regulatory alternative, but is instead based on a separate assessment of the harvest potential of eastern mallards. We will propose a specific mallard bag limit for the Atlantic Flyway in December. 16. Doves In 2006 (see July 28, 2006, Federal Register, 71 FR 43008), we approved guidelines for the use of zones and split seasons for doves with implementation beginning in the 2007–08 season. While the initial period was for 4 years (2007– 10), we further stated that, beginning in 2011, zoning would conform to a 5-year period. PO 00000 Frm 00055 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 55127 The next open season for changes to dove zone and split configurations will be in 2020, for use during the 2021–25 period. For those States wishing to change zone and split-season configurations in time for the 2021–25 seasons, we will need to receive new configuration and zone descriptions by May 1, 2020. The guidelines are as follows: Guidelines for Dove Zones and Split Seasons in the Eastern and Central Mourning Dove Management Units (1) A zone is a geographic area or portion of a State, with a contiguous boundary, for which independent seasons may be selected for dove hunting. (2) States may select a zone and split option during an open season. The option must remain in place for the following 5 years except that States may make a one-time change and revert to their previous zone and split configuration in any year of the 5-year period. Formal approval will not be required, but States must notify the Service before making the change. (3) Zoning periods for dove hunting will conform to those years used for ducks, e.g., 2021–25. (4) The zone and split configuration consists of two zones with the option for three-way (three-segment) split seasons in one or both zones. As a grandfathered arrangement, Texas will have three zones with the option for two-way (twosegment) split seasons in one, two, or all three zones. (5) States that do not wish to zone for dove hunting may split their seasons into no more than three segments. For the 2021–25 period, any State may continue the configuration used in 2016–20. If changes are made, the zone and split-season configuration must conform to one of the options listed above. If Texas uses a new configuration for the entirety of the 5-year period, it cannot go back to the grandfathered arrangement that it previously had in place. BILLING CODE 4333–15–P E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 VerDate Sep<11>2014 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00056 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4725 E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 EP15OC19.002</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS 55128 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 199 / Tuesday, October 15, 2019 / Proposed Rules 55129 [FR Doc. 2019–22151 Filed 10–11–19; 8:45 am] VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:07 Oct 11, 2019 Jkt 250001 PO 00000 Frm 00057 Fmt 4702 Sfmt 4702 E:\FR\FM\15OCP1.SGM 15OCP1 EP15OC19.003</GPH> khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with PROPOSALS BILLING CODE 4333–15–C

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 199 (Tuesday, October 15, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 55120-55129]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22151]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 20

[Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0004; FF09M21200-189-FXMB1231099BPP0]
RIN 1018-BD89


Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2020-21 Migratory Game Bird 
Hunting Regulations (Preliminary) With Requests for Indian Tribal 
Proposals; Notice of Meetings

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; availability of supplemental information.

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SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter the Service or 
we) proposes to establish annual hunting regulations for certain 
migratory game birds for the 2020-21 hunting season. We annually 
prescribe outside limits (frameworks) within which States may select 
hunting seasons. This proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, 
announces the Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee (SRC) 
meetings, describes the proposed regulatory

[[Page 55121]]

alternatives for the 2020-21 duck hunting seasons, and requests 
proposals from Indian tribes that wish to establish special migratory 
game bird hunting regulations on Federal Indian reservations and ceded 
lands. Migratory bird hunting seasons provide opportunities for 
recreation and sustenance; aid Federal, State, and tribal governments 
in the management of migratory game birds; and permit harvests at 
levels compatible with migratory game bird population status and 
habitat conditions.

DATES: Comments: You may comment on the general harvest strategy and 
the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2020-21 season until 
November 15, 2019. Following subsequent Federal Register documents, you 
will be given an opportunity to submit comments on the proposed 
frameworks by January 15, 2020. Tribes must submit proposals and 
related comments on or before December 1, 2019.
    Meetings: The SRC will conduct a meeting on October 8-9, 2019, to 
consider and develop proposed regulations for the 2020-21 migratory 
game bird hunting seasons. Meetings on both days are open to the public 
and will commence at approximately 8:00 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-2019-0004.
     U.S. Mail or Hand-Delivery: Public Comments Processing, 
Attn: FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0004; Division of Policy, Performance, and 
Management 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 your 
entire submission--including any personal identifying information--will 
be posted on the website. See the Public Comments section, below, for 
more information.
    Meetings: The October 8-9, 2019, SRC meeting will be at the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service, 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:

Process for the Annual Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

    Beginning in the summer of 2015, with the development of the 2016-
17 hunting seasons, we now make decisions for migratory bird harvest 
management based on predictions derived from long-term biological 
information and established harvest strategies. Under this 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. This proposed rule is the first in a 
series of proposed and final rulemaking documents for the establishment 
of the 2020-21 hunting seasons.

Background and Overview

    Migratory game birds are those bird species so designated in 
conventions between the United States and several foreign nations for 
the protection and management of these birds. Under the Migratory Bird 
Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703-712), the Secretary of the Interior is 
authorized to determine when ``hunting, taking, capture, killing, 
possession, sale, purchase, shipment, transportation, carriage, or 
export of any * * * bird, or any part, nest, or egg'' of migratory game 
birds can take place, and to adopt regulations for this purpose. These 
regulations are written after giving due regard to ``the zones of 
temperature and to the distribution, abundance, economic value, 
breeding habits, and times and lines of migratory flight of such 
birds'' and are updated annually (16 U.S.C. 704(a)). This 
responsibility has been delegated to the Service as the lead Federal 
agency for managing and conserving migratory birds in the United 
States. However, migratory game bird management is a cooperative effort 
of State, Tribal, and Federal governments.
    The Service develops migratory game bird hunting regulations by 
establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag 
limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting. Acknowledging 
regional differences in hunting conditions, the Service has 
administratively divided the Nation into four Flyways for the primary 
purpose of managing migratory game birds. Each Flyway (Atlantic, 
Mississippi, Central, and Pacific) has a Flyway Council, a formal 
organization generally composed of one member from each State and 
Province in that Flyway. The Flyway Councils, established through the 
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, also assist in researching 
and providing migratory game bird management information for Federal, 
State, and Provincial governments, as well as private conservation 
entities and the general public.
    The process for adopting migratory game bird hunting regulations, 
located in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at part 
20, is constrained by three primary factors. Legal and administrative 
considerations dictate how long the rulemaking process will last. Most 
importantly, however, the biological cycle of migratory game birds 
controls the timing of data-gathering activities and thus the dates on 
which these results are available for consideration and deliberation. 
For the regulatory cycle, Service biologists gather, analyze, and 
interpret biological survey data and provide this information to all 
those involved in the process through a series of published status 
reports and presentations to Flyway Councils and other interested 
parties. Because the Service is required to take abundance of migratory 
game birds and other factors into consideration, the Service undertakes 
a number of surveys throughout the year in conjunction with Service 
Regional Offices, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and State and 
Provincial wildlife-management agencies. To determine the appropriate 
frameworks for each species, we consider factors such as population 
size and trend, geographical distribution, annual breeding effort, 
condition of breeding and wintering habitat, number of hunters, and 
anticipated harvest. After frameworks are established for season 
lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting, States 
may select season dates, bag limits, and other regulatory options for 
the hunting seasons. States may always be more conservative in their 
selections than the Federal frameworks, but never more liberal.

Service Migratory Bird Regulations Committee Meetings

    The SRC conducted an open meeting on April 23, 2019, to discuss 
preliminary issues for the 2020-21 regulations, and will conduct 
another meeting on October 8-9, 2019 to review information on the 
current status of migratory game birds and develop 2020-21 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. See DATES and ADDRESSES for information about these 
meetings.

[[Page 55122]]

Notice of Intent To Establish Open Seasons

    This document announces our intent to establish open hunting 
seasons and daily bag and possession limits for certain designated 
groups or species of migratory game birds for 2020-21 in the contiguous 
United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, 
under Sec. Sec.  20.101 through 20.107, 20.109, and 20.110 of subpart K 
of 50 CFR part 20. For the 2020-21 migratory game bird hunting season, 
we will propose regulations for certain designated members of the avian 
families Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans); Columbidae (doves and 
pigeons); Gruidae (cranes); Rallidae (rails, coots, moorhens, and 
gallinules); and Scolopacidae (woodcock and snipe). We describe these 
proposals under Proposed 2020-21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting 
Regulations (Preliminary) in this document. We annually publish 
definitions of flyways and management units, and a description of the 
data used in and the factors affecting the regulatory process (see June 
4, 2018, Federal Register (83 FR 25738) for the latest definitions and 
descriptions).

Regulatory Schedule for 2020-21

    This document is the first in a series of proposed, supplemental, 
and final rulemaking documents for migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. We will publish additional supplemental proposals for 
public comment in the Federal Register as population, habitat, harvest, 
and other information become available. Major steps in the 2020-21 
regulatory cycle relating to open public meetings and Federal Register 
notifications are illustrated in the diagram at the end of this 
proposed rule. All publication dates of Federal Register documents are 
target dates. All sections of this and subsequent documents outlining 
hunting frameworks and guidelines are organized under numbered 
headings. These headings are:

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

    Later sections of this and subsequent documents will refer only to 
numbered items requiring your attention. Therefore, it is important to 
note that we will omit those items requiring no attention, so remaining 
numbered items will be discontinuous, making the list appear 
incomplete.
    The proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2020-21 duck hunting 
seasons are contained at the end of this document. We plan to publish 
final duck regulatory alternatives and proposed season frameworks in 
mid-December 2019. We plan to publish final season frameworks in late 
February 2020.

Review of Public Comments

    This proposed rulemaking contains the proposed regulatory 
alternatives for the 2020-21 duck hunting seasons. This proposed 
rulemaking also describes other recommended changes or specific 
preliminary proposals that vary from the 2019-20 regulations and issues 
requiring early discussion, action, or the attention of the States or 
tribes. We will publish responses to all proposals and written comments 
when we develop final frameworks for the 2020-21 season. We seek 
additional information and comments on this proposed rule.

Consolidation of Rulemaking Documents

    For administrative purposes, this document consolidates the notice 
of our intent to establish open migratory game bird hunting seasons and 
the request for tribal proposals with the preliminary proposals for the 
annual hunting regulations-development process. We will publish the 
remaining proposed and final rulemaking documents separately. For 
inquiries on tribal guidelines and proposals, tribes should contact: 
Tina Chouinard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 606 Browns Church Road, 
Jackson, TN 38305; 731-432-0981; [email protected].

Requests for Tribal Proposals

Background

    Beginning with the 1985-86 hunting season, we have employed 
guidelines described in the June 4, 1985, Federal Register (50 FR 
23467) to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on 
Federal Indian reservations (including off-reservation trust lands) and 
ceded lands. We developed these guidelines in response to tribal 
requests for our recognition of their reserved hunting rights, and for 
some tribes, recognition of their authority to regulate hunting by both 
tribal and nontribal members throughout their reservations. The 
guidelines include possibilities for:
    (1) On-reservation hunting by both tribal and nontribal members, 
with hunting by nontribal members on some reservations to take place 
within Federal frameworks, but on dates different from those selected 
by the surrounding State(s);
    (2) On-reservation hunting by tribal members only, outside of usual 
Federal frameworks for season dates, season length, and daily bag and 
possession limits; and
    (3) Off-reservation hunting by tribal members on ceded lands, 
outside of usual framework dates and season length, with some added 
flexibility in daily bag and possession limits.
    In all cases, tribal regulations established under the guidelines 
must be consistent with the annual March 11 to August 31 closed season 
mandated by the 1916 Convention Between the United States and Great 
Britain (for Canada) for the Protection of Migratory Birds 
(Convention). The guidelines are applicable to those tribes that have 
reserved hunting rights on Federal Indian reservations (including off-
reservation trust lands) and ceded lands. They also may be applied to 
the establishment of migratory game bird hunting regulations for 
nontribal members on all lands within the exterior boundaries of 
reservations where tribes have full wildlife-management authority over 
such hunting, or where the tribes and affected States otherwise have 
reached agreement over hunting by nontribal members on non-Indian 
lands.
    Tribes usually have the authority to regulate migratory game bird 
hunting by nonmembers on Indian-owned reservation lands, subject to our 
approval. The question of jurisdiction is

[[Page 55123]]

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

Details Needed in Tribal Proposals

    Tribes that wish to use the guidelines to establish special hunting 
regulations for the 2020-21 migratory game bird hunting season should 
submit a proposal that includes: (1) The requested migratory game bird 
hunting season dates and other details regarding the proposed 
regulations; (2) harvest anticipated under the proposed regulations; 
and (3) tribal capabilities to enforce migratory game bird hunting 
regulations. For those situations where it could be shown that failure 
to limit tribal harvest could seriously impact the migratory game bird 
resource, we also request information on the methods employed to 
monitor harvest and any potential steps taken to limit level of 
harvest. A tribe that desires the earliest possible opening of the 
migratory game bird season for nontribal members should specify this 
request in its proposal, rather than request a date that might not be 
within the final Federal frameworks. Similarly, unless a tribe wishes 
to set more restrictive regulations than Federal regulations will 
permit for nontribal members, the proposal should request the same 
daily bag and possession limits and season length for migratory game 
birds that Federal regulations are likely to permit the States in the 
Flyway in which the reservation is located.

Tribal Proposal Procedures

    We will publish details of tribal proposals for public review in 
later Federal Register documents. Because of the time required for 
review by us and the public, Indian tribes that desire special 
migratory game bird hunting regulations for the 2020-21 hunting season 
should submit their proposals no later than December 1, 2019. Tribes 
should direct inquiries regarding the guidelines and proposals to the 
person listed above under the caption Consolidation of Rulemaking 
Documents. Tribes that request special migratory game bird hunting 
regulations for tribal members on ceded lands should send a courtesy 
copy of the proposal to officials in the affected State(s).

Public Comments

    The Department of the Interior's policy is, whenever practicable, 
to afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking 
process. Accordingly, we invite interested persons to submit written 
comments, suggestions, or recommendations regarding the proposed 
regulations. Before promulgation of final migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will take into consideration all comments we receive. 
Such comments, and any additional information we receive, may lead to 
final regulations that differ from these proposals.
    You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed 
rule by one of the methods listed in 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 this proposed rule, will 
be available for public inspection on http://www.regulations.gov, or by 
appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, 5275 Leesburg 
Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
    For each series of proposed rulemakings, we will establish specific 
comment periods. We will consider, but 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.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Consideration

    The programmatic document, ``Second Final Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement: Issuance of Annual Regulations 
Permitting the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds (EIS 20130139),'' filed 
with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on May 24, 2013, 
addresses NEPA compliance by the Service for issuance of the annual 
framework regulations for hunting of migratory game bird species. We 
published a notice of availability in the Federal Register on May 31, 
2013 (78 FR 32686), and our Record of Decision on July 26, 2013 (78 FR 
45376). We also address NEPA compliance for waterfowl hunting 
frameworks through the annual preparation of separate environmental 
assessments, the most recent being ``Duck Hunting Regulations for 2019-
20,'' with its corresponding April 2019 finding of no significant 
impact. In addition, an August 1985 environmental assessment entitled 
``Guidelines for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations on

[[Page 55124]]

Federal Indian Reservations and Ceded Lands'' is available from the 
address indicated under the caption FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Endangered Species Act Consideration

    Before issuance of the 2020-21 migratory game bird hunting 
regulations, we will comply with provisions of the Endangered Species 
Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; hereinafter the Act), to 
ensure that hunting is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence 
of any species designated as endangered or threatened or modify or 
destroy its critical habitat and is consistent with conservation 
programs for those species. Consultations under section 7 of the Act 
may cause us to change proposals in future supplemental proposed 
rulemaking documents.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) will review all significant rules. OIRA has reviewed 
this rule and has determined that this rule is significant because it 
would have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy.
    E.O. 13563 reaffirms the principles of E.O. 12866 while calling for 
improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote 
predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most 
innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. 
The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches 
that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for 
the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and 
consistent with regulatory objectives. E.O. 13563 emphasizes further 
that regulations must be based on the best available science and that 
the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open 
exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent 
with these requirements.
    An economic analysis was prepared for the 2019-20 season. This 
analysis was based on data from the 2011 and 2016 National Hunting and 
Fishing Survey, the most recent years for which data are available (see 
discussion in Regulatory Flexibility Act section below). This analysis 
estimated consumer surplus for three alternatives for duck hunting 
(estimates for other species are not quantified due to lack of data). 
The alternatives are (1) issue restrictive regulations allowing fewer 
days than those issued during the 2018-19 season, (2) issue moderate 
regulations allowing more days than those in alternative 1, and (3) 
issue liberal regulations identical to the regulations in the 2018-19 
season. For the 2019-20 season, we chose Alternative 3, with an 
estimated consumer surplus across all flyways of $263-$347 million with 
a mid-point estimate of $305 million. We also chose alternative 3 for 
the 2009-10 through 2018-19 seasons. We will select regulations for the 
2020-21 season in December. The analysis is part of the record for this 
rule and is available at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-
HQ-MB-2019-0004.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The annual migratory bird hunting regulations have a significant 
economic impact on substantial numbers of small entities under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). We analyzed the 
economic impacts of the annual hunting regulations on small business 
entities in detail as part of the 1981 cost-benefit analysis. This 
analysis was revised annually from 1990 through 1995. In 1995, the 
Service issued a Small Entity Flexibility Analysis (Analysis), which 
was subsequently updated in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2008, 2013, 2018, and 
2019. The primary source of information about hunter expenditures for 
migratory game bird hunting is the National Hunting and Fishing Survey, 
which is generally conducted at 5-year intervals. The 2019 Analysis is 
based on the 2011 and 2016 National Hunting and Fishing Survey and the 
U.S. Department of Commerce's County Business Patterns, from which it 
was estimated that migratory bird hunters would spend approximately 
$1.6 billion at small businesses in 2019. Copies of the Analysis are 
available upon request from the Division of Migratory Bird Management 
(see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT) or from http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0004.

Clarity of the Rule

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

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This proposed rule is a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small 
Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. For the reasons outlined 
above, this rule would have an annual effect on the economy of $100 
million or more. However, because this rule would establish hunting 
seasons, we do not plan to defer the effective date under the exemption 
contained in 5 U.S.C. 808(1).

Paperwork Reduction Act

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required 
to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number. This rule does not contain any new 
collection of information that require approval by OMB under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). OMB has 
previously approved the information collection requirements associated 
with migratory bird surveys and the procedures for establishing annual 
migratory bird hunting seasons under the following OMB control numbers:
     1018-0019, ``North American Woodcock Singing Ground 
Survey'' (expires 6/30/2021, and in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10, an 
agency may continue to conduct or sponsor this collection of 
information while the submission is pending at OMB).
     1018-0023, ``Migratory Bird Surveys, 50 CFR 20.20'' 
(expires 8/31/2020). Includes Migratory Bird Harvest Information 
Program, Migratory Bird Hunter Surveys, Sandhill Crane Survey, and 
Parts Collection Survey.
     1018-0171, ``Establishment of Annual Migratory Bird 
Hunting Seasons, 50 CFR part 20'' (expires 06/30/2021).

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    We have determined and certify, in compliance with the requirements 
of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, 2 U.S.C. 1502 et seq., that this 
proposed rulemaking would not impose a cost of $100 million or more in 
any given year on local or State government or private

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entities. Therefore, this rule is not a ``significant regulatory 
action'' under the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

Civil Justice Reform--Executive Order 12988

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

Takings Implication Assessment

    In accordance with E.O. 12630, this proposed rule, authorized by 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, does not have significant takings 
implications and does not affect any constitutionally protected 
property rights. This rule would not result in the physical occupancy 
of property, the physical invasion of property, or the regulatory 
taking of any property. In fact, this rule would allow hunters to 
exercise otherwise unavailable privileges and, therefore, reduce 
restrictions on the use of private and public property.

Energy Effects--Executive Order 13211

    E.O. 13211 requires agencies to prepare Statements of Energy 
Effects when undertaking certain actions. While this proposed rule is a 
significant regulatory action under E.O. 12866, it is not expected to 
adversely affect energy supplies, distribution, or use. Therefore, this 
action is not a significant energy action and no Statement of Energy 
Effects is required.

Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, 
``Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal 
Governments'' (59 FR 22951), E.O. 13175, and 512 DM 2, we have 
evaluated possible effects on Federally recognized Indian tribes and 
have determined that there are no effects on Indian trust resources. 
However, in this proposed rule, we solicit proposals for special 
migratory bird hunting regulations for certain tribes on Federal Indian 
reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 
2020-21 migratory bird hunting season. The resulting proposals will be 
contained in a separate proposed rule. By virtue of these actions, we 
have consulted with tribes affected by this rule.

Federalism Effects

    Due to the migratory nature of certain species of birds, the 
Federal Government has been given responsibility over these species by 
the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We annually prescribe frameworks from 
which the States make selections regarding the hunting of migratory 
birds, and we employ guidelines to establish special regulations on 
Federal Indian reservations and ceded lands. This process preserves the 
ability of the States and tribes to determine which seasons meet their 
individual needs. Any State or Indian tribe may be more restrictive 
than the Federal frameworks at any time. The frameworks are developed 
in a cooperative process with the States and the Flyway Councils. This 
process allows States to participate in the development of frameworks 
from which they will make selections, thereby having an influence on 
their own regulations. These rules do not have a substantial direct 
effect on fiscal capacity, change the roles or responsibilities of 
Federal or State governments, or intrude on State policy or 
administration. Therefore, in accordance with E.O. 13132, these 
regulations do not have significant federalism effects and do not have 
sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a 
federalism summary impact statement.

Executive Order 13771--Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory 
Costs

    This action is not subject to Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, 
February 3, 2017) because it is issued with respect to routine hunting 
and fishing activities.

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 2020-21 
hunting season are authorized under 16 U.S.C. 703-711, 712, and 742 a-
j.

    Dated: October 1, 2019.
Rob Wallace,
Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.

Proposed 2020-21 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations (Preliminary)

    Pending current information on populations, harvest, and habitat 
conditions, and receipt of recommendations from the four Flyway 
Councils, we may defer specific regulatory proposals. No changes from 
the 2019-20 frameworks in the Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways 
are being proposed at this time. Other issues requiring early 
discussion, action, or the attention of the States or tribes are 
contained below:

1. Ducks

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

A. General Harvest Strategy

    We propose to continue using adaptive harvest management (AHM) to 
help determine appropriate duck-hunting regulations for the 2020-21 
season. AHM permits sound resource decisions in the face of uncertain 
regulatory impacts and provides a mechanism for reducing that 
uncertainty over time. We use AHM to evaluate four alternative 
regulatory levels for duck hunting in the Mississippi, Central, and 
Pacific Flyways based on the population status of mallards. We use AHM 
based on the population status of a suite of four species in the 
Atlantic Flyway (see below). We have specific hunting strategies for 
species of special concern, such as black ducks, scaup, and pintails. 
For additional information of AHM, see https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/adaptive-harvest-management.php.
Mississippi, Central, and Pacific Flyways
    The prescribed regulatory alternative for the Mississippi, Central, 
and Pacific Flyways is based on the status of mallard populations that 
contribute primarily to each Flyway. In the Central and Mississippi 
Flyways, we set hunting regulations based on the status and dynamics of 
mid-continent mallards. Mid-continent mallards are those breeding in 
central North America (Federal survey strata 13-18, 20-50, and 75-77, 
and State surveys in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan). In the 
Pacific Flyway, we set hunting regulations based on the status and 
dynamics of western mallards. Western mallards are those breeding in 
Alaska and the northern Yukon Territory (as based on Federal surveys in 
strata 1-12), and in California, Oregon, Washington, and British 
Columbia (as based on State- or Province-conducted surveys).
    For the 2020-21 season, we recommend continuing to use independent 
optimization to determine the optimal regulatory choice for each 
mallard stock. This means that we would develop regulations for mid-
continent mallards and western mallards independently, based upon the 
breeding stock that contributes

[[Page 55126]]

primarily to each Flyway. We detailed implementation of this AHM 
decision framework for western and mid-continent mallards in the July 
24, 2008, Federal Register (73 FR 43290).
Atlantic Flyway
    Last year, we implemented a multi-stock protocol for the Atlantic 
Flyway. The protocol is based on a suite of four species that 
represents the dynamics of duck harvest in the Atlantic Flyway and the 
various habitat types used by waterfowl throughout the Atlantic Flyway: 
Green-winged teal (Anas crecca), common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), 
ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris), and wood duck (Aix sponsa). These 
species comprise more than 40 percent of the Atlantic Flyway's total 
duck harvest, and they reflect regional variation in harvest 
composition. The selected species represent upland nesters in boreal 
and southern Canada (green-winged teal), over-water nesters in boreal 
Canada (ring-necked duck), cavity nesters in the United States and 
southern Canada (wood duck), and cavity nesters in boreal Canada 
(goldeneye). The most important winter waterfowl habitats in the 
Atlantic Flyway (salt marsh, freshwater marsh, tidal waters, freshwater 
ponds and lakes, rivers and streams) are important to at least one of 
these four species.
    Species selection was also influenced by our need for sufficient 
time series of estimates of annual abundance and estimates of harvest 
rate or annual harvest. The protocol has a harvest objective of no more 
than 98 percent of maximum sustainable long-term yield for any of the 
four species. Regulatory alternatives are the same as those used in the 
past (under eastern mallard AHM), except that the mallard bag limit is 
not prescribed by the optimal regulatory alternative as determined by 
the multi-stock AHM protocol. Further details on biological models used 
in the protocol, data sources, optimization methods, and simulation 
results are available at http://www.regulations.gov and on our website 
at https://www.fws.gov/birds/index.php.
    Although season length in the Atlantic Flyway is determined by the 
proposed multi-stock protocol, the daily bag limit for black ducks will 
still be determined by the international black duck AHM harvest 
strategy. The mallard bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway will be based on 
a separate assessment of the harvest potential of eastern mallards (see 
section D.iii. Eastern Mallards below for further information).
Final 2020-21 AHM Protocol
    We will detail the final AHM protocol for the 2020-21 season in the 
supplemental proposed rule, which we will publish in late-September 
(see Schedule of Biological Information Availability, Regulations 
Meetings and Federal Register Publications for the 2020-21 Seasons at 
the end of this proposed rule for further information). We will propose 
a specific regulatory alternative in December for each of the Flyways 
to use for their 2020-21 seasons after status information becomes 
available in late August 2019.

B. Regulatory Alternatives

    The basic structure of the current regulatory alternatives for AHM 
was adopted in 1997. In 2002, based upon recommendations from the 
Flyway Councils, we extended framework dates in the ``moderate'' and 
``liberal'' regulatory alternatives by changing the opening date from 
the Saturday nearest October 1 to the Saturday nearest September 24, 
and by changing the closing date from the Sunday nearest January 20 to 
the last Sunday in January. These extended dates were made available 
with no associated penalty in season length or bag limits. Last year, 
we adopted a closing duck framework date of January 31 for the 
``moderate'' and ``liberal'' alternatives in the Atlantic Flyway as 
part of the Atlantic Flyway's new multi-stock AHM protocol (83 FR 
47868; September 21, 2018). We subsequently further extended the 
framework closing date to January 31 across all four Flyways for the 
2019-20 hunting season (84 FR 16152; April 17, 2019).
    More recently, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, 
and Recreation Act (Act), signed into law on March 12, 2019 (Pub. L. 
116-9), amended the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to specify that the 
framework closing date for hunting ducks, mergansers, and coots ``shall 
be no later than January 31 of each year.'' The Act also states that, 
with regard to these species, the Secretary shall ``adopt the 
recommendation of each respective flyway council (as defined in section 
20.152 of title 50, Code of Federal Regulations) for the Federal 
framework if the Secretary determines that the recommendation is 
consistent with science-based and sustainable harvest management.'' 
Thus, as directed by the law, we have adjusted the framework closing 
date under each regulatory alternative for all four Flyways to January 
31.
    For 2020-21, we propose to utilize the same regulatory alternatives 
that are in effect for the 2019-20 season, with the exceptions noted 
above (see table below for specifics of the regulatory alternatives). 
Alternatives are specified for each Flyway and are designated as 
``RES'' for the restrictive, ``MOD'' for the moderate, and ``LIB'' for 
the liberal alternative. We will finalize the regulatory alternatives 
for each of the Flyways for the 2020-21 seasons in early-December 2019.

C. Zones and Split Seasons

    Zones and split seasons are ``special regulations'' designed to 
distribute hunting opportunities and harvests according to temporal, 
geographic, and demographic variability in waterfowl and other 
migratory game bird populations. For ducks, States have been allowed 
the option of dividing their allotted hunting days into two (or in some 
cases three) segments (splits) to take advantage of species-specific 
peaks of abundance or to satisfy hunters in different areas who want to 
hunt during the peak of waterfowl abundance in their area. However, the 
split-season option does not fully satisfy many States who wish to 
provide a more equitable distribution of harvest opportunities. 
Therefore, we also have allowed the establishment of independent 
seasons in up to four zones within States for the purpose of providing 
more equitable distribution of harvest opportunity for hunters 
throughout the State.
    In 1978, we prepared an environmental assessment (EA) on the use of 
zones to set duck hunting regulations. A primary tenet of the 1978 EA 
was that zoning would be for the primary purpose of providing equitable 
distribution of duck hunting opportunities within a State or region and 
not for the purpose of increasing total annual waterfowl harvest in the 
zoned areas. In fact, target harvest levels were to be adjusted 
downward if they exceeded traditional levels as a result of zoning. 
Subsequent to the 1978 EA, we conducted a review of the use of zones 
and split seasons in 1990. In 2011, we prepared a new EA analyzing some 
specific proposed changes to the zone and split-season guidelines. The 
current guidelines were then finalized in 2011 (76 FR 53536; August 26, 
2011).
    Currently, every 5 years, States are afforded the opportunity to 
change the zoning and split-season configuration within which they set 
their annual duck hunting regulations. The next regularly scheduled 
open season for changes to zone and split-season configurations will be 
in 2020, for use during the 2021-25 period. For those States wishing to 
change zone and split-season configurations in time for the 2021-25

[[Page 55127]]

seasons, we will need to receive new configuration and zone 
descriptions by May 1, 2020.
    For the 2021-25 open season, the guidelines for duck zone and 
split-season configurations are as follows:
Guidelines for Duck Zones and Split Seasons
    The following zone and split-season guidelines apply only for the 
regular duck season:
    (1) A zone is a geographic area or portion of a State, with a 
contiguous boundary, for which independent dates may be selected for 
the regular duck season.
    (2) Consideration of changes for management-unit boundaries is not 
subject to the guidelines and provisions governing the use of zones and 
split seasons for ducks.
    (3) Only minor (less than a county in size) boundary changes will 
be allowed for any grandfathered arrangement, and changes are limited 
to the open season.
    (4) Once a zone and split option is selected during an open season, 
it must remain in place for the following 5 years.
    Any State may continue the configuration used in the previous 5-
year period. If changes are made, the zone and split-season 
configuration must conform to one of the following options:
    (1) No more than four zones with no splits;
    (2) Split seasons (no more than three segments) with no zones; or
    (3) No more than three zones with the option for two-way (two-
segment) split seasons in one, two, or all zones.
Grandfathered Zone and Split Arrangements
    When we first implemented the zone and split guidelines in 1991, 
several States had completed experiments with zone and split 
arrangements different from our original options. We offered those 
States a one-time opportunity to continue (``grandfather'') those 
arrangements, with the stipulation that only minor changes could be 
made to zone boundaries. If any of those States now wish to change 
their zone and split arrangement:
    (1) The new arrangement must conform to one of the three options 
identified above; and
    (2) The State cannot go back to the grandfathered arrangement that 
it previously had in place.
Management Units
    We will continue to utilize the specific limitations previously 
established regarding the use of zones and split seasons in special 
management units, including the High Plains Mallard Management Unit. We 
note that the original justification and objectives established for the 
High Plains Mallard Management Unit provided for additional days of 
hunting opportunity at the end of the regular duck season. In order to 
maintain the integrity of the management unit, current guidelines 
prohibit simultaneous zoning and/or three-way split seasons within a 
management unit and the remainder of the State. Removal of this 
limitation would allow additional proliferation of zone and split 
configurations and compromise the original objectives of the management 
unit.

D. Special Seasons/Species Management

iii. Eastern Mallards
    For the Atlantic Flyway, under the proposed multi-stock AHM 
protocol for the Atlantic Flyway, the mallard bag limit is not 
prescribed by the regulatory alternative, but is instead based on a 
separate assessment of the harvest potential of eastern mallards. We 
will propose a specific mallard bag limit for the Atlantic Flyway in 
December.

16. Doves

    In 2006 (see July 28, 2006, Federal Register, 71 FR 43008), we 
approved guidelines for the use of zones and split seasons for doves 
with implementation beginning in the 2007-08 season. While the initial 
period was for 4 years (2007-10), we further stated that, beginning in 
2011, zoning would conform to a 5-year period.
    The next open season for changes to dove zone and split 
configurations will be in 2020, for use during the 2021-25 period. For 
those States wishing to change zone and split-season configurations in 
time for the 2021-25 seasons, we will need to receive new configuration 
and zone descriptions by May 1, 2020.
    The guidelines are as follows:
Guidelines for Dove Zones and Split Seasons in the Eastern and Central 
Mourning Dove Management Units
    (1) A zone is a geographic area or portion of a State, with a 
contiguous boundary, for which independent seasons may be selected for 
dove hunting.
    (2) States may select a zone and split option during an open 
season. The option must remain in place for the following 5 years 
except that States may make a one-time change and revert to their 
previous zone and split configuration in any year of the 5-year period. 
Formal approval will not be required, but States must notify the 
Service before making the change.
    (3) Zoning periods for dove hunting will conform to those years 
used for ducks, e.g., 2021-25.
    (4) The zone and split configuration consists of two zones with the 
option for three-way (three-segment) split seasons in one or both 
zones. As a grandfathered arrangement, Texas will have three zones with 
the option for two-way (two-segment) split seasons in one, two, or all 
three zones.
    (5) States that do not wish to zone for dove hunting may split 
their seasons into no more than three segments.
    For the 2021-25 period, any State may continue the configuration 
used in 2016-20. If changes are made, the zone and split-season 
configuration must conform to one of the options listed above. If Texas 
uses a new configuration for the entirety of the 5-year period, it 
cannot go back to the grandfathered arrangement that it previously had 
in place.
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