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

GAO-05-1018R: Sep 9, 2005

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GAO reviewed the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) new rule on migratory bird hunting. GAO found that (1) the rule establishes the early-season frameworks from which the states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands may select dates and other options available to them for the 2005-2006 migratory bird hunting seasons; and (2) FWS complied with 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-05-1018R, September 9, 2005

B-297116

September 9, 2005

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

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: 1810-AT76). We received the rule on August 26, 2005. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on August 30, 2005. 70 Fed. Reg. 51522.

The final rule establishes the early-season frameworks from which the states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands may select dates and other options available to them for the 2005-2006 migratory bird hunting seasons.

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: Julie MacDonald
Acting Assistant Secretary for
Fish and Wildlife and Parks
Department of the Interior


ENCLOSURE

ANALYSIS UNDER 5 U.S.C. sect. 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; FINAL FRAMEWORKS FOR
EARLY-SEASON MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING REGULATIONS"
(RIN: 1810-AT76)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

Collectively, the migratory bird hunting regulations (of which this final rule is a part) have an expected welfare benefit of $734 million to $1.064 billion with a mid-point estimate of $899 million.

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

The Service's compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act consisted of a –Small Entity Flexibility Analysis— based on the 2001 National Hunting and Fishing Survey. 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 $481 million and $1.2 billion at small businesses in 2004.

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

The final rule will not impose 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. sections 551 et seq.

The final rule was issued using the notice and comment procedures contained at 5 U.S.C. 553. From April 6, 2005, through August 22, 2005, 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. sections 3501-3520

The Service states that it uses various information collection requirements to develop future migratory game bird hunting regulations. The information 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 February 29, 2008. OMB has also approved the Sandhill Crane Harvest Questionnaire, Control No. 1018-0023, with an expiration date of November 30, 2007.

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 to be 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.

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