[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 105 (Friday, May 31, 2013)]
[Pages 32686-32688]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-12443]



Fish and Wildlife Service

[FWS-R9-MB-2012-N056; FF09M21200-134-FXMB1231099BPP0]

Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the Issuance 
of Annual Regulations Permitting the Hunting of Migratory Birds

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service or we) has 
prepared a final supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for 
the issuance of annual regulations permitting the hunting of migratory 
birds. We published a draft environmental impact statement in July 
2010. We considered over 280 public comments in revising the document. 
The SEIS analyzes a range of management alternatives for addressing the 
hunting of migratory birds. The analysis provided in the final SEIS is 
intended to: inform the public of the proposed action and alternatives; 
address public comments we received on the draft SEIS; and disclose the

[[Page 32687]]

direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects of the proposed 
action and each of the alternatives.

DATES: The public inspection period for the final SEIS will last 30 
days and will end on July 1, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may inspect comments during normal business hours at the 
office of the Pacific Flyway Representative, 911 NE 11th Ave., 
Portland, OR 97232. The final SEIS is available by either writing to 
the street address indicated above or by viewing it on our Web site at 

Representative, Division of Migratory Bird Management, (503) 231-6162; 
or Brad Bortner, Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, (703) 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On September 8, 2005, and again on March 9, 
2006, the Service published notice in the Federal Register (70 FR 53376 
and 71 FR 12216, respectively) announcing that we intended to prepare a 
supplemental environmental impact statement for the issuance of annual 
regulations permitting the hunting of migratory birds. In those 
notices, we invited public comments on the scope and substance of the 
SEIS, particular issues the SEIS should address and why, and options or 
alternatives we should consider. Please refer to the notices (70 FR 
53376 and 71 FR 12216) for further information about our regulatory 
process pertaining to the hunting of migratory birds.
    We received public comments on the notices, considered those 
comments, and developed a draft SEIS that we made available in a July 
9, 2010, Federal Register notice (75 FR 39577) in accordance with the 
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 
U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), its implementing regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 
to 1508), and Service procedures for compliance with those regulations.
    The final SEIS evaluates seven components of the proposed action 
regarding how we establish the annual regulations for the hunting of 
migratory birds. The first six components deal with the fall-winter 
hunting season and include:
    (1) Schedule and timing of the general regulatory process. 
Promulgation of annual hunting regulations relies on a well-defined 
process of monitoring, data collection, and scientific assessment. At 
key points during that process, Flyway Technical Committees, Flyway 
Councils, and the public review and provide valuable input on technical 
assessments or other documents related to proposed regulatory 
frameworks. After we adopt final regulatory frameworks, each State 
selects its seasons, usually following its own schedule of public 
hearings and other deliberations. After State selections are completed, 
the Service adopts them as Federal regulations through publication in 
the Federal Register. In the final SEIS, we present four alternatives 
regarding the schedule and timing of the general regulatory process.
    (2) Frequency of review and adoption of duck regulatory packages. 
Duck regulatory packages are the set of framework regulations that 
apply to the general duck hunting seasons. Packages include opening and 
closing dates, season lengths, daily bag limits, and shooting hours. 
Current regulatory packages contain a set of frameworks for each of the 
four flyways and a set of four regulatory alternatives: restrictive 
(relatively short seasons and low daily bag limits), moderate 
(intermediate season lengths and daily bag limits), liberal (longer 
seasons and higher daily bag limits), and closed. In the final SEIS, we 
present two alternatives regarding how frequently duck regulatory 
packages should be reviewed and adopted.
    (3) Stock-specific harvest strategies. We define a stock as a 
species, population, or portion of a population that is treated 
separately for harvest management purposes. Harvest strategies have 
been developed for stocks deemed not biologically capable of sustaining 
the same harvest levels that jointly managed stocks are capable of 
sustaining, or whose migration and distribution do not conform to 
patterns followed by the most commonly harvested species. The final 
SEIS presents three alternatives regarding the use of stock-specific 
harvest strategies.
    (4) Special regulations. Special regulations differ from stock 
harvest strategies because they entail additional days of harvest 
opportunity outside the established frameworks for general seasons. 
Special regulations are employed to provide additional harvest 
opportunity on overabundant species, species that are lightly harvested 
and can sustain greater harvest pressure, or stocks whose migration and 
distribution provide opportunities outside the time period in which 
regular seasons are held. In the final SEIS, we offer two alternatives 
concerning the development of special regulations.
    (5) Management scale for the harvest of migratory birds. We define 
management scale as the geographic area in which stocks are monitored 
and harvest is managed. The finer the scale of management employed in 
harvest management, the higher the cost of monitoring to management 
agencies. The desire for smaller management scales is driven by the 
potential for increased harvest opportunity associated with more 
refined geographic management. The final SEIS presents three 
alternatives regarding the scale at which migratory birds should be 
    (6) Zones and split seasons. A zone is a geographic area or portion 
of a State, with a contiguous boundary, for which an independent season 
may be selected. A split is a situation where a season is broken into 
two or more segments with a closed period between segments. The 
combination of zones and split seasons allows a State to maximize 
harvest opportunity within the Federal frameworks without exceeding the 
number of days allowed for a given season. In the final SEIS, we 
present two alternatives regarding the use of zones and split seasons.
    In addition, the final SEIS considers a seventh component of the 
proposed action concerning the subsistence hunting regulations process 
for Alaska. Regulations governing the subsistence harvest of migratory 
birds provide a framework that enables the continuation of customary 
and traditional subsistence uses of migratory birds in Alaska. These 
regulations are subject to annual review and are developed under a co-
management process involving the Service, the Alaska Department of Fish 
and Game, and Alaska Native representatives. This annual review process 
establishes regulations that prescribe frameworks for dates when 
harvesting of birds may occur, species that can be taken, and methods 
and means that are excluded from use. In the final SEIS, we offer two 
alternatives regarding the subsistence harvest of migratory birds in 
    In the final SEIS, we also discuss the impact of cumulative harvest 
of migratory bird hunting on national wildlife refuges.
    Finally, the final SEIS provides and analyzes alternatives for each 
of these seven components with regard to their potential impacts on 
migratory bird species, other wildlife species, special status species, 
vegetation, outdoor recreational activities, physical and cultural 
resources, and the socioeconomic/administrative environment.
    On July 9, 2010 (75 FR 39527), the Environmental Protection Agency 
published a notice of availability of our draft SEIS. On July 9, 2010 
(75 FR 39577), we also published our own notice of availability of the 
draft SEIS.

[[Page 32688]]

We published a notice of intent to prepare an SEIS on September 8, 2005 
(70 FR 53376) and a notice of meetings on the SEIS on March 9, 2006 (71 
FR 12216). Comments were accepted until May 30, 2006.
    We received public comments on the draft SEIS from three private 
individuals, eight State wildlife resource agencies, three 
nongovernmental organizations, four Flyway Councils, the National 
Flyway Council, and two Federal agencies. For six of the seven 
components outlined in the draft SEIS, the Service's preferred 
alternative was supported by the majority.
    We modified the draft SEIS to respond to concerns and issues 
expressed by individuals, agencies, and organizations.

    Dated: April 2, 2013.
Daniel M. Ashe,
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-12443 Filed 5-30-13; 8:45 am]