Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Late Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds, GAO-04-136R, B-292933, October 8, 2003

B-292933: Oct 8, 2003

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This is our report on a major rule promulgated by the Department of the Interior. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on September 29. Enclosed is our assessment of the Service's compliance with the procedural steps required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. If you have any questions about this report. The official responsible for GAO evaluation work relating to the subject matter of the rule is Robert Robinson. The migratory bird hunting regulations (of which this final rule is a part) have an expected welfare benefit of $50 million to $192 million. (ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The survey is updated on a 5-year basis.

Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Late Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds, GAO-04-136R, B-292933, October 8, 2003

The Honorable James M. Inhofe Chairman The Honorable James M. Jeffords Ranking Minority Member Committee on Environment and Public Works United States Senate

The Honorable Richard W. Pombo Chairman The Honorable Nick J. Rahall II Ranking Minority Member Committee on Resources House of Representatives

Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on a major rule promulgated by the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), entitled "Migratory Bird Hunting; Late Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds" (RIN: 1018-AI93). We received the rule on September 23, 2003. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on September 29, 2003. 68 Fed. Reg. 56048.

The final rule prescribes the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and daily bag and possession limits for general waterfowl seasons and those early seasons for which states previously deferred selection.

Enclosed is our assessment of the Service's compliance with the procedural steps required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. Our review indicates that the Service complied with the applicable requirements.

If you have any questions about this report, please contact James W. Vickers, Assistant General Counsel, at (202) 512-8210. The official responsible for GAO evaluation work relating to the subject matter of the rule is Robert Robinson, Managing Director, Natural Resources and Environment. Mr. Robinson can be reached at (202) 512-3841.

signed
Kathleen E. Wannisky
Managing Associate General Counsel

Enclosure

cc: Craig Manson Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks
Department of the Interior

ENCLOSURE

ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. Sec. 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ENTITLED "MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING; LATE SEASONS AND BAG AND POSSESSION LIMITS FOR CERTAIN MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS" (RIN: 1018-AI93)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

Collectively, the migratory bird hunting regulations (of which this final rule is a part) have an expected welfare benefit of $50 million to $192 million.

(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. Secs. 603-605, 607, and 609

The Service's compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act consisted of a "Small Entity Flexibility Analysis" based on the 1996 National Hunting and Fishing Survey issued in 1998. The survey is updated on a 5-year basis. It appears that the analysis was limited because the regulation's impact is primarily beneficial to a very substantial number of small entities. The survey estimated that bird hunters would spend between $429 million and $1.084 billion at small businesses in 2003.

(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. Secs. 1532-1535

The final rule does not contain either an intergovernmental or private sector mandate, as defined in title II, of more than $100 million in any one year.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Secs. 551 et seq.

The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures found at 5 U.S.C. 553. From May 6, 2003, through August 19, 2003, the Service published four Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) covering the various aspects of the migratory bird hunting regulations. The comments received in response to the NPRMs are discussed in the preamble to the final rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. Secs. 3501-3520

The Service states that it uses various information collection requirements to develop future migratory game bird hunting regulations. The information collection requirements of the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned Control No. 1018-0015, expiration date of October 31, 2004.

Statutory authorization for the rule

The rules concerning migratory waterfowl hunting are authorized by 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 742a-j.

Executive Order No. 12866

Collectively, the rules for migratory bird hunting are reviewed by OMB and are considered economically significant.

Executive Order No. 13132 (Federalism)

According to the Service, the final rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism Assessment.