Mourning the Truth
By PJ Perea
The Truth of the Matter
“Anti's target dove hunting because it's the best opportunity to introduce new people to hunting,” Rob Sexton with the U.S. Sportsmens Alliance said. “More people hunt doves than all the duck and goose hunters combined.”
As you can see, the agenda for working against hunters is often rooted in myths and outright lies rather than facts and good science. Dove hunting not only brings families together, but also raises funds to support the conservation wildlife, many of the things that all people can enjoy.
For nearly 2 million outdoor enthusiasts, dove hunting is the start of another great fall season. Occurring in all of the lower 48 states, the mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) is one of the most abundant game birds with fall populations ranging from 350 to 600 million doves.
Unfortunately, anti’s have made it a priority to try and stop hunters from enjoying this fall tradition. Currently 40 states allow dove hunting. Michigan recently lost its legal battle to allow dove hunting and the anti’s have shifted their focus into states like Minnesota where two bills were recently introduced that will outlaw mourning dove hunting, and remove mourning doves from the game bird list. Minnesota hunting enthusiasts must take immediate action to stop legislation to ban the hunt, and are encouraged to contact their local legislators to voice their opinions.
There are many myths created by anti’s and the uninformed about dove hunting that need to be addressed. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Doves are songbirds. False!
The mourning dove is a game bird. The dove is classified as a legitimate game bird by international migratory bird treaties. The mourning dove is specifically named and protected as a game bird by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which implements migratory bird treaties between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
- Doves seen in many urban areas would be at risk. False!
Studies in Ohio concluded that urban mourning doves are far less vulnerable to hunting than rural doves, indicating that doves at backyard feeders are not threatened by rural hunting.
- Dove hunting will wipe out the mourning dove. False!
Mourning doves have been hunted for many years throughout the United States and they continue to be one of the most abundant birds in North America. Nationwide, approximately 41 million doves are harvested annually. Other sources of mortality are 4-5 times higher than hunting mortality. From a biological standpoint, hunting has no adverse impact on mourning dove populations.
- The mourning dove is the “bird of peace” from the Bible. False!
Mourning doves are not the “bird of peace.” They’re a member of the same family of birds as the common pigeon, also known as the rock dove. A better candidate for a bird of peace, both biblically and biologically, would be the turtledove, which inhabits Europe and the Mediterranean.
- Dove hunting is neither biologically sound nor regulated. False!
Dove hunting is highly regulated. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees all migratory birds, regulates dove hunting, sets bag limits and season lengths and other regulations. It sets regulations for doves the same way it does for other migratory birds: through population monitoring and studies.