September 7, 2010

Migratory Bird Hunting; 2009 to 2010 Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 34 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of Interior
Regulatory Identification Number
1018-AW31
Agency Name
Department of Interior
Rule Publication Date
04/10/2009
Comment Closing Date
06/26/2009

RULE SUMMARY

The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to establish the 2009–10 late-season hunting regulations for certain migratory game birds. It annually prescribes frameworks, or outer limits, for dates and times when hunting may occur and the number of birds that may be taken and possessed in late seasons. These frameworks are necessary to allow state selections of seasons and limits and to allow recreational harvest at levels compatible with population 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?
1018-AW31 can be found on regulations.gov using the RIN and a keyword search. It can be found on the Department of Interior's website by clicking on Bureaus and Offices. Then, click on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to search by the RIN or the title. The regulatory analysis is from 2008–09. A call to the contact listed in the Federal Register reveals that the same RIA gets used for several years because it is based on survey data gathered every five years. The Federal Register notice mentions the periodic survey but does not explicitly say that the agency re-uses the RIA from a previous year, which made us wonder whether we had the right document. For 2009–10, FWS considered the same alternatives as in 2008–09 and selected the same alternative.
4/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
Some data are explicitly sourced in the text; some are not. Sources of all data appear to be in the references section. Most sources are not linked.
3/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
The consumer behavior models are explained, but no citations are given. Some model inputs are from pre-eixsting literature, which is cited. Most sources appear to be internal.
2/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The RIA presumes the reader is familiar with economics jargon like consumer surplus, producer surplus, and the mathematics of modeling utility functions. Other than that, it is very understandable.
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?
The number of hunters, amount of consumer surplus, and expenditures by hunters are all mentioned. The RIA pinpoints the sum of consumer and producer surplus as the key measure of national welfare. Producer surplus is explicitly not measured due to lack of data. The principal measure in the RIA is consumer surplus, which assumes all relevant benefits and costs are private.
3/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
A clear, testable theory is presented on how reducing restrictions (increasing bag limits) will lead to greater consumer surplus. A broader theory is also presented to justify the regulations generally: "The frameworks safeguard the efficient use of the resource over time by imposing limits on its exploitation. Overexploitation when access to the resource was unconstrained threatened its sustainability. Limiting resource consumption ensures future hunting opportunities and the resulting benefits to hunters." This explains how the regulation affects an output (ducks) over time, but does not explicitly link the regulation to preservation of multi-period consumer welfare.
5/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
For the general justification for the regulation, there is nothing beyond a couple assertions that over-hunting occurred prior to treaties. In the appendix, an econometric model shows that the two factors regulated—bag limits and hunting days—affect the amount of hunting (and hence consumer surplus).
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?
It makes a pretty clear statement: "Migratory birds are a renewable, international, common property resource. Unlike resources with clear ownership, individuals have little or no incentive to conserve common property resources. A bird not taken today may be taken by another hunter tomorrow. Therefore, each consumer has an incentive to take as much of the resource as they can capture, so all consumers together can overexploit the resource. This type of market failure is termed an externality in that the actions of one party impose costs on others that cannot be captured by a market transaction."
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?
The quote above shows why this is a systemic problem that can be solved by changing the rules. The description and theory of the problem suggest that, since birds cross state and international borders, national and international cooperation are needed to address the issue.
4/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
"Over harvesting at the turn of the century resulted in depleted bird populations and inspired the Migratory Bird Treaties between the United States, Great Britain (Canada), Mexico, Japan, and the Soviet Union." This is an empirical claim; citations to evidence would have been helpful. A link is provided to reports that have monitor the status of bird populations for 50 years.
4/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
No relevant discussion.
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?
It gives three alternatives—one liberal (2007–08 bag limits) and two more-restrictive alternatives.
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)?
All alternatives are premutations on the same regulatory scheme. The analysis notes that the differences between the three are small because the different alternatives have a small effect on the number of days hunters are in the field and the total number of birds bagged.
2/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
The analysis calculates how each alternative will affect consumer surplus. The alternatives analyzed affect only duck hunting, which accounts for 62 percent of migratory bird hunting days. Regulations affecting other birds may be different, and no analysis is done on these.
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?
The baseline is the most restrictive alternative, which is analyzed in the same way as the others.
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?
The analysis estimates only benefits, not costs. It mentions states' administrative costs of establishing hunting seasons and says these would be minimal.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
It identifies hunters' expenditures, but not costs that flow from the regulation.
3/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
The analysis estimates hunters' expenditures on goods and services, but not effects of the regulation on prices.
0/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
It estimates benefits, but not costs.
0/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
The analysis identifies the alternative that maximizes consumer surplus, compared to the other options.
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?
It mentions that states will bear some costs that are asserted to be small.
3/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
The primary beneficiaries are hunters. Businesses that serve hunters also benefit. States receive some additional tax revenue from hunting licenses and taxes on hunting equipment, but this is not calculated. The RIA notes that expenditures on hunting are a transfer, not a benefit, because they substitute for other expenditures. Tables estimate migratory bird hunters' expenditures in small businesses in each state.
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 34 / 60