May 25, 2010

Migratory Bird Hunting; 2008 to 2009 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 35 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of Interior
Regulatory Identification Number
1018-AV62
Agency Name
Department of Interior
Rule Publication Date
05/28/2008

RULE SUMMARY

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter the Service or we) proposes to establish annual hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds for the 2008–09 hunting season. We annually prescribe outside limits (frameworks) within which states may select hunting seasons. This proposed rule provides the regulatory schedule, describes the proposed regulatory alternatives for the 2008–09 duck hunting seasons, requests proposals from Indian tribes that wish to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on federal Indian reservations and ceded lands, and requests proposals for the 2009 spring/ summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska. Migratory game bird hunting seasons provide hunting opportunities for recreation and sustenance; aid federal, state, and tribal governments in the management of migratory game birds; and permit harvests at levels compatible with migratory game bird population status and habitat conditions.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
The rule and the "Economic Analysis of the Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations for the 2008–2009 Season" can be found on regulations.gov using the RIN and a keyword search (four clicks). Additionally, the "Federal Register Documents" and "Division of Migratory Bird Management Reports" sections of fws.gov contain links to the rule and RIA, respectively.
5/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
Sources are given for all data but no links; it seems verifiable with some research.
3/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
The models are justified with arguments, but not bolstered by citations or previous studies' choices of models. Of course, it may be that no one else has done this, but even then some basic econometric literature citations would suffice to back up the arguments made.
2/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
Most of the analysis is clear and understandable to a layperson. Since the theoretical models used are explained in plain English, an informed layperson could probably understand all of the results. An economist would understand all of it.
4/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
3/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
The outcome is greater hunting days available to hunters, which allows higher consumer surplus from hunting.
3/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
Not explicit, but in making (theoretical) calculations of consumer surplus for this RIA, the measures to be used to identify it in the future are named. It could be improved by specifically proposing measures (new or old).
3/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
The RIA outlines an extensive model of "duck-hunting economics" in appendix A to compare the impact of each of the three alternatives. As such, the analysis compares the consumer surplus effects of the current restrictive federal framework, i.e. the minimum migratory bird hunting permitted, to more liberal policies, and determined that liberal migratory bird hunting regulations were the best fit. Their choice of duck hunting to represent the overall bird population seems appropriate since "duck hunting represented approximately 50 percent of all migratory bird hunting in 2006" (2006 National Survey). A clear, testable theory presented on how reducing restrictions (increasing bag limits) will lead to greater consumer surplus.
5/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
The analysis presents a logistic regression analysis estimating the effects of changes in bag limits, using historical data with variability in average daily bags. This supports the model that when bags increase, so does hunting. However, the tables in appendix A lack clarity in which parameter estimates are significant (no *s, and t-stats appear incorrect).
3/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
The RIA performs its analysis under assumptions from the 2006 National Survey and does not account for factors that would cause current hunting activities to be different with respect to those of earlier years. Other uncertainties appear to only be addressed implicitly within the regression analysis.
1/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
3/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
The analysis identifies a market failure—a tragedy of the commons that migrate.
5/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
Overharvesting under previous rules (from the early 20th century) is mentioned to support the market failure theory. No citations on it are included, though.
4/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
See above. Although bag limits are created to avoid overharvesting, there is no analysis of the appropriate limit to sustain or grow bird populations.
4/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
The analysis does not adequately address uncertainty.
0/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
4/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
Three options are considered: a very restrictive alternative with both bag limits and shorter season, a moderately restrictive alternative with a shorter season while maintaining previous bag limits, and a liberal alternative maintaining the old bag limits and season length.
4/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
The range is narrow; all regulatory options are command and control. Market-based alternatives could have been considered.
2/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
Yes.
5/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
Yes.
5/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
2/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
It mentions costs but does not quantify them. It seems they could be quantified (e.g. changes in tax revenue, enforcement cost changes).
1/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
It identifies them, but offers nothing more.
3/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
No; this might be very relevant for private hunting grounds.
0/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
The analysis does not address this topic.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
Given the approaches, yes. But not enough considered.
4/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
No, because costs are claimed to be incalculable. Costs in terms of species loss also ignored.
0/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
The states are the identified parties who would bear administrative and enforcement costs.
3/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
Yes, mostly to hunters, some to hunter industry (although it claims producer surplus likely zero due to competition, which seems wrong). Incidence not explicitly broken down.
3/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
The rule mentions that the basic structure of the current regulatory alternatives was adopted in 1997 and remained largely unchanged until 2002, when DOI extended framework dates in the "moderate" and "liberal" regulatory alternatives. Since the alternatives were "grandfathered" in, the RIA seems to be affected more by the established rule. Further, since states can select hunting seasons themselves, the RIA serves more as a guide than a mandate.
1/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
The rule maximizes net consumer surplus for hunters among the alternatives considered.
4/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
The rule notes that the "process for adopting migratory game bird hunting regulations, located at 50 CFR part 20…" is well established (30712), which infers that all regulations will follow similar guidelines and thus be easier to track. It is also implicit that the same data used for the RIA can be used going forward. But this is not explicitly adopted.
2/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
The analysis notes that "limiting resource consumption ensures future hunting opportunities and the resulting benefits to hunters" and creates a model that can easily be run with updated variables at future dates, but makes no direct mention that it will do so.
2/5
 
Total 35 / 60