Dove hunting season one step closer to reality

Published 10:41 am Thursday, April 8, 2004

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
Recently the Michigan Senate voted 22-15 to create the state's first dove hunting season.
This has been a hot topic and previously was defeated in several attempts by a narrow margin.
But with the passing of what is commonly known as the "Dove Bill," House resolution HB 5029 now goes back to the House for confirmation before heading to Governor Jennifer Granholm's desk to be signed.
The bill narrowly passed the House back in November of 2003.
The Governor, however, has been reported as saying she will veto the bill.
If Gov. Granholm does sign the bill, Michigan will become the 40th state to allow dove hunting. Gov. Granholm has said that she would not sign the bill unless it was voted on in a general election.
The bill calls for a special $2 dove stamp or license with all of the proceeds going to the Department of Natural Resources to be split between the game and nongame divisions.
That would mean millions of additional dollars going toward wildlife management in the DNR budget.
Daily News outdoor columnist Larry Lyons has been following the subject for some time.
In a column he wrote for the Daily News on Nov. 5, 2003, Lyons said that all of Michigan's neighboring states have dove hunting seasons. He added that despite the controversy of the subject, doves are the country's "prevelant and popular game bird."
According to Lyons, "Doves are strictly seed and grain eaters and with wheat, corn and soy beans covering much of rural America… For nearly 40 years their population nationwide has remained at a relatively stable 400-500 million birds. Many experts claim they even outnumber English sparrows and house finches."
But the problem is, people perceive that doves will be eliminated by hunting.
Lyons said common concerns include:
In reality, city doves and rural doves tend to be distinctly separate according to Lyons.
In states where hunting does take place, it usually is done in and around crop fields where the birds flock in large numbers to feed on the grain.
Figures point to the fact that Michigan's dove population is between eight and 10 million birds with the largest portion of that population residing in the southern lower third of the state.
Most doves migrate south for the winter, usually to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Alabama, George and Florida.
From a hunter's perspective, Lyons wrote on Nov. 5 that "at this point a lot of Michigan hunters go to Indiana and Ohio to dove hunt, leaving considerable amounts of cash at the motels, gas stations, restaurants and sporting goods stores of these neighboring states that would otherwise be spent here in Michigan. The DNR also misses out on a lot of license money that would go toward managing all of Michigan's wildlife. Also, dove hunting is great for the elderly and handicapped. Typically hunters simply sit on stands around grain fields and wait for the birds to come in. Since so little effort is involved virtually anyone can participate."
The dove currently is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treat Act, which means that controlled hunting is allowed based upon dove population surveys. States that allow dove hunting are responsible for creating their own hunting seasons within federal guidelines.
All of the southern states allow dove hunting among the 39 states that do so. In the midwest, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have dove hunting seasons.
Approximately 22.7 million doves are harvested annually.
As expected, the National Rifle Association was thrilled by the Michigan vote.