Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) new rule on early seasons, bag, and possession limits for certain migratory game birds. GAO noted that: (1) the rule sets the hunting season, hours, areas, and daily bag and possession limits for various listed birds and early waterfowl seasons for migratory game birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; and (2) FWS complied with applicable requirements in promulgating the rule.
Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, OGC-00-63, September 15, 2000
Subject: Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Hunting; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands
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; Early Seasons and Bag and Possession Limits for Certain Migratory Game Birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands" (RIN: 1018-AG08). We received the rule on August 29, 2000. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on September 1, 2000. 65 Fed. Reg. 53492.
This rule is part of a series of regulations dealing with the establishment of seasons, limits, and other regulations for migratory game bird hunting under amendments to 50 C.F.R. part 20.
The final rule sets the hunting seasons, hours, areas, and daily bag and possession limits for various listed birds and early waterfowl seasons for migratory game birds in the Contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
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 Jim Wells, Director, Energy, Resources, and Science Issues. Mr. Wells can be reached at (202) 512-3841.
Robert P. Murphy
ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(B)(i)-(iv) OF A MAJOR RULE
ISSUED BY THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
"MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING; EARLY SEASONS AND BAG AND POSSESSION LIMITS FOR CERTAIN MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS IN THE CONTIGUOUS UNITED STATES, ALASKA, HAWAII, PUERTO RICO, AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS"
(i) Cost-benefit analysis
According to the cost-benefit analysis contained in the filing, the migratory bird hunting regulations (of which these regulations are a part) collectively have an economic impact in excess of an estimated $600 million in direct expenditures. For example, the analysis indicates that $293.3 million will be spent by duck hunters on equipment, $144.3 million on food, $147.1 million on transportation and lodging, plus $73.8 million "other" direct expenditures. Without these regulations, the Service opines that the resources spent in game bird hunting would, to some degree, be spent on other recreational activities.
The analysis notes that the rules impose some costs of administration and enforcement on the state, but as the states also derive revenue from licensing, the net cost, if any, is not quantifiable.
(ii) Agency actions relevant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603-605, 607, and 609
The Service's compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act consisted of a "Small Entity Flexibility Analysis" issued in 1998 using information from the 1996 National Hunting and Fishing Survey. The survey is updated on a 5-year basis. It appears that the analysis was so limited because the regulation's impact is primarily beneficial to a substantial number of small businesses.
The analysis notes that small entities shared in the estimated $429-$1,084 million spent by migratory bird hunters during the 1998-1999 season. There are no new compliance requirements for small businesses resulting from the regulations. In addition, since the regulations are largely beneficial to small entities, the Service indicates that no special treatment was considered for them.
(iii) Agency actions relevant to sections 202-205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1532-1535
The final rule will not impose a federal mandate, as defined in title II, of more than $100 million in any one year on either state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector.
(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders
Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.
The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures contained at 5 U.S.C. 553. On August 23, 2000, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register. 65 Fed. Reg. 51496. The comments received from the notice and those made at the various public meetings held during June and August 2000, were considered in promulgating the final rule.
Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 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 Programs have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned Control No. 1018-0015, expiration date of September 30, 2001. OMB has also approved the Sandhill Crane Harvest Questionnaire, Control No. 1018-0023, expiration date of July 31, 2003.
Statutory authorization for the rule
The rules concerning migratory waterfowl hunting are authorized by 16 U.S.C. 703-712 and 742 a-j.
Executive Order No. 12866
Collectively, the rules for migratory bird hunting are reviewed by OMB and are considered to be economically significant.
Executive Order No. 13132 (Federalism)
The final rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment, according to the Service.