Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Final Frameworks for Early-Season Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

GAO-08-1139R: Sep 10, 2008

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Shirley A. Jones
(202) 512-8156
jonessa@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO reviewed the Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) new rule on the final frameworks for early-season migratory bird hunting regulations. GAO found that (1) the final rule establishes the early-season frameworks from which states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin islands may select dates, limits, and other options available to them for the 2008-2009 migratory bird hunting seasons; and (2) FWS complied with the applicable requirements in promulgating the rule.

Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Final Frameworks for Early-Season Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations, GAO-08-1139R, September 10, 2008

B-317044

September 10, 2008

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

The Honorable Nick J. Rahall II
Chairman
The Honorable Don Young
Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Natural Resources
House of Representatives

Subject: Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Final Frameworks for Early-Season Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

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; Final Frameworks for Early-Season Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations— (RIN: 1018-AV62). We received the rule on August 25, 2008. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on August 27, 2008. 73 Fed. Reg. 50,678.

The final rule establishes the early-season frameworks from which the states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands may select dates, limits, and other options available to them for the 2008-2009 migratory bird hunting seasons. The frameworks set forth the season dates, the shooting hours, and the daily bag and possession limits for the 2008-2009 season.

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.

Section 808(1) of title 5, United States Code, exempts any rule that –establishes, modifies, opens, closes, or conducts a regulatory program for a commercial, recreational, or subsistence activity related to hunting, fishing, or camping— from the 60-day delay in the effective date otherwise required by section 801(a)(3)(A). This is a rule related to hunting; therefore, the 60-day delay is not applicable. The final rule has an effective date of August 27, 2008.

If you have any questions about this report or wish to contact GAO officials responsible for the evaluation work relating to the subject matter of the rule, please contact Michael R. Volpe, Assistant General Counsel, at (202) 512-8236.

signed

Robert J. Cramer
Associate General Counsel

Enclosure

cc: David M. Verhey
Acting Assistant Secretary
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


ENCLOSURE

REPORT UNDER 5 U.S.C. sect. 801(a)(2)(A) ON A MAJOR RULE
ISSUED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
ENTITLED
"MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING; FINAL FRAMEWORKS FOR
EARLY-SEASON MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING REGULATIONS"
(RIN: 1018-AV62)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

Collectively, the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) expects the migratory bird hunting regulations, of which this final rule is a part, to have an estimated economic benefit range from $274 to $362 million with a mid-point estimate of $318 million.

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

The Service determined that the final rule will have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities under the Act. The Service issued a –Small Entity Flexibility Analysis— that was most recently updated in 2008 and was based on the 2006 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 $1.2 billion at small businesses in 2008.

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

The Service concluded that this rule will not impose a cost of $100 million or more in any given year on local or state governments or on private entities.

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

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

The Service promulgated this final rule using the notice and comment procedures found in the Administrative Procedure Act. 5 U.S.C. sect. 553. The Service published three proposed rules relating to migratory bird hunting from May 28, 2008, through July 24, 2008. The July 24th proposal dealt specifically with frameworks for early season regulations. 73 Fed. Reg. 43,290. The Service received comments to the proposal and responded to the issues raised in the comments in the final rule.

73 Fed. Reg. 50,678

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

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the information collection requirements in the final rule. Specifically, OMB approved the Migratory Bird Survey and assigned control number 1018-0023 (expires 2/28/2011) and the Alaska Subsistence Household Survey and assigned control number 1018-0124 (expires 1/31/2010).

Statutory authorization for the rule

The final rule is authorized by 16 U.S.C. sections 703-712 and 742a -742j.

Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. sections 1531-43

The Service determined that the final rule is not likely to adversely affect any endangered or threatened species.

Executive Order No. 12,866

The final rule was reviewed by OMB and found to be an –economically significant— regulatory action under the order.

Executive Order No. 13,132 (Federalism)

The Service determined that the final rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment.