It’s official: Dove hunts cancelled

By Bill

Lansing — There will be no dove kabobs or dove casserole made
from mourning doves harvested in Michigan during the 2005 or 2006
hunting seasons. That’s because there will be no dove hunting
seasons in Michigan for the next two years, until a ballot
referendum is decided at the polls in November of 2006.

When the Board of State Canvassers recently approved signatures
turned in by an anti-dove hunting group, it effectively shut down
the season.

“The Board of State Canvassers took a couple of months to verify
those signatures. When they voted to approve the signatures they
stayed the law,” Mary Dettloff, DNR press secretary, told Michigan
Outdoor News. “The law that allows the season is officially
suspended, so the seasons are suspended.”

Last fall, Michigan held its first dove hunt in nearly 100
years. The DNR says 3,068 hunters participated in that hunt and
combined to kill 28,139 doves.

Two more hunts, this fall and next, were scheduled before
results of those hunts were to be reviewed to determine the future
of dove hunting in Michigan.

“The sad thing is that the group that wants to stop dove hunting
kept us from getting the data to show the results of the hunt and
the impact on the dove population from three years of hunts,” said
Sam Washington, the executive director of Michigan United
Conservation Clubs, the state’s largest conservation

That anti-dove hunting group, which calls itself the Committee

Restore the Dove Shooting Ban, is backed by the Humane Society
of the United States, one of the largest anti-hunting organizations
in the world.

“This is no longer a state issue. National groups have come in
on the side of the anti’s,” Washington said. “The Humane Society
has made it a priority for them to eliminate dove hunting in

Washington recently debated the issue with HSUS’s Wayne Pacelle
on a Detroit-based radio station.

“Wayne Pacelle is the head of HSUS and they’re certainly not
based in Michigan,” Washington said.

In an effort to defeat the anti’s and educate the public about
dove hunting and the biology behind the decision to open the
season, MUCC is organizing a coalition of individuals and
conservation clubs. Washington is calling on sportsmen and
sportswomen statewide to unite in an effort to defeat the
referendum. He said this is no longer a dove issue, but a hunting
versus anti-hunting issue.

“This is just the first step,” Washington said of the dove
referendum. “They’re going to go for what they consider the
low-hanging fruit on the tree. This is the first in a series of
planned attempts to limit or make hunting a thing of the past.
Sportsmen have to realize this — eventually their ox is going to
get gored. This time it’s doves. Next time it may be archery or
trapping or hunting with dogs.”

Last fall’s dove hunt was the culmination of a lengthy
legislative battle that ended when Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed HB
5029 into law, moving the mourning dove from the songbird list to
the game bird list. The legislation authorized the Natural
Resources Commission to establish the hunting season for doves.

The governor signed the legislation after an agreement with the
NRC — which grew out of a compromise proposed by MUCC — to
implement a limited, three-year pilot dove season in Berrien, Cass,
St. Joseph, Branch, Hillsdale, and Lenawee counties.

At the end of the three years, results of the hunt were to be
evaluated and the NRC was to determine the future of dove hunting
in Michigan.

To learn more about the coalition, visit the MUCC web site at, or call (517) 371-1041.

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