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Media Contact: Nicholas Throckmorton, USFWS, (202) 208-5636

March 22, 2006

Public Input Invited for EIS on Migratory Bird Hunting

ROSENBURG, Texas — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has published a notice inviting public comment and participation as a part of the scoping process in drafting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the hunting of migratory birds. Comments can be sent directly to the Service or provided at a dozen scoping meetings to be held around the country, including one in Rosenburg on Thursday, March 30.

The public meeting will be held at the Texas Agricultural Extension Service Education Center, 1402 Band Road, Suite 100, Highway 36 in Rosenburg starting at 7 p.m.

The 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. These "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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department sets hunting seasons in Texas within the framework established each year by the Service. Hunters and others with concerns or recommendations pertaining to migratory bird hunting regulations are urged to participate in the comment process.

"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 Service invites Federal and State Agencies and the public to present their views on the scope and substance of an SEIS, options or alternatives to be considered and important management issues. The SEIS will update the 1975 EIS and 1988 SEIS for issuing of annual hunting regulations.

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 SEIS — 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, 2006, volume of the Federal Register.

Written comments regarding SEIS scoping are due by May 30, 2006, 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 September 8, 2005, (when the Service published a Notice of Intent to prepare a SEIS) until May 30, 2006, will be considered.

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