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#06-81 April 3, 2006

Public input on migratory bird hunting to be sought at April 12 Charleston meeting

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a public meeting Wednesday, April 12 in Charleston to ask for input into drafting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the hunting of migratory birds.            

The public meeting will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 12 at the Fort Johnson Marine Laboratory, 217 Fort Johnson Road, on James Island in Charleston. The Charleston meeting is one of 12 public scoping meetings that will be conducted around the country by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Migratory bird management is a key mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Service Director H. Dale Hall. “This National Environmental Policy Act process will ensure that all voices are heard as we further our nation’s migratory bird hunting tradition and examine its role as a wildlife management tool.”

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sets the migratory game bird seasons in South Carolina using the regulatory processes and season frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Charleston scoping session will allow all sportsmen and wildlife managers to have input into future migratory game bird regulation.
           
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Fish and Wildlife Improvement Act, the Secretary of the Interior has the authority to determine whether migratory bird hunting can take place and issue regulations to guide management. Migratory game birds are species designated in conventions between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Russia.

The draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, which will contain management alternatives, will be published for comment next year. The notice of the public scoping process was published in the March 9 volume of the “Federal Register.”

Written comments regarding the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement scoping are due by May 30 to: Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, MS MBSP-4107-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240. Alternately, comment may be sent by fax to (703) 358-2217 or by e-mail to huntingseis@fws.gov. All comments received from the initiation of this process on Sept. 8, 2005, (when the Service published a Notice of Intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) until May 30 will be considered.

For more information on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on migratory bird hunting, visit the Web site: http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/fedreg/MGBHR.HTML.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulates the hunting of waterfowl, cranes, rails, snipe and woodcock and doves and pigeons. Regulations governing seasons and limits are created annually since bird populations change from year to year. The annual regulations have been written by the Service each year since 1918. Other regulations, termed “basic” regulations, such as those governing hunting methods, are changed only when a need to do so arises.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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