Dove hunt legislation surfaces in New York Senate
Albany — Legislation that could pave the way for a dove hunting season in New York has been introduced in the state Senate.
Senate Bill 6968, sponsored by Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), would classify mourning doves as “migratory game birds,” allowing New York DEC wildlife officials to set a dove hunting season.
Currently, there is no companion bill in the state Assembly, and DeFrancisco’s bill has been forwarded to the Senate’s environmental conservation committee for review.
While mourning doves are considered migratory by the federal government, they are not classified as such by the state of New York. As a result, the state DEC has been unable to establish a dove hunting season.
New York is one of only nine states in the U.S. that prohibit dove hunting. Although DEC officials have said previously there may not be a widespread interest in dove hunting, game management section head Bryan Swift has said – and DEC’s own website states – “there is no biological reason why doves could not be hunted in New York.”
Central New York sportsman Fred Neff has for years pushed for a dove hunting season in New York, noting that the state’s upland bird hunters would welcome the move.
He also says there’s no logical reason not to allow dove hunting, given the numbers of birds in the state and worldwide.
“It’s the most hunted game bird in the U.S.,” Neff said previously. “Second place isn’t even close. In Argentina (where sportsmen pay big bucks to hunt doves), there’s no closed season and no limit.”
While DEC says its data has shown hunters have been indifferent toward the idea, proponents of dove hunting says that may simply be a product of a lack of experience in hunting doves.
An online poll conducted by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association showed 79 percent support for dove hunting.
Neighboring Pennsylvania has a dove hunting season that’s popular among the wingshooting segment of the Keystone State’s hunters, especially in September before other small-game seasons are open.
Last year, Iowa became the latest state to approve legislation to allow dove hunting. But it wasn’t easy; several anti-hunting groups rallied to oppose the move before lawmakers ultimately approved the measure. The battle percolated for a full decade and included a gubernatorial veto of the measure in 2001.
In New York, there’s been some indication that opposition to a dove hunt may be softening. In 2007, Audubon New York executive director Albert E. Caccese stated the organization would remain neutral on the issue, “provided it is managed by professionals and New York DEC and closely monitored.”
That letter, written to the New York State Conservation Council, also said mourning doves “are one of the least vulnerable” on the continent because of their numbers.
Neff, in lobbying for dove hunting in New York, says the move could also serve as another way to introduce youths to hunting; would provide an opportunity for additional field work for hunting dogs; and notes that doves are excellent table fare.
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance has also weighed in on DeFrancisco’s proposal and urged sportsmen to contact their state lawmakers and voice their support for the measure.
“Doves are one of the post popular game birds in the U.S and there is no reason to continue to prohibit dove hunting in New York,” said Jeremy Rine, the organization’s in-house counsel and associate director of state services. “For too long, the politics of the anti-hunting lobby, and not sound science, have prevented a dove season in New York. It’s time that New York sportsmen are afforded the same opportunity as sportsmen in other states.”