Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Dove hunt not likely, says DEC

By Steve
Piatt
Editor

Albany – New York State is one of few states outside of New
England that doesn’t allow dove hunting, and that’s not likely to
change in the near future.

Perhaps the biggest reason that sportsmen won’t have a dove
hunting season is an apparent lack of interest.

“We’re kind of right on the edge,” DEC Chief Wildlife Biologist
John Major said. “New England has no history of dove hunting, while
Pennsylvania and New Jersey have it.”

A movement some two decades ago to pass legislation that would
have allowed dove hunting in the Empire State was met with some
opposition, and not a lot of vocal support from sportsmen, Major
recalls.

The bill, introduced by Syracuse area Assemblyman Mike Bragman,
whom Major called “a great friend of the sportsmen,” failed to
generate the momentum needed for passage.

“Sportsmen were kind of ho-hum about it,” Major recalled. “There
were a couple proponents – Fred Neff in Onondaga County was
probably the biggest – but I could probably count on one hand the
number of hunters who stood up to be counted on the issue.”

In the meantime, opposition arose to the proposal. While Major
says he can’t recall “if it was a grassroots effort or from an
organization like the Audubon Society,” some say it was both.

Ultimately, the bill died for a lack of sportsmen and perhaps
legislative backing. “It just never got that very solid level of
support (from sportsmen),” Major said.

The fact that New York doesn’t have a dove hunting season still
may come as a bit of a surprise to hunters, particularly those who
move into New York from neighboring states like Pennsylvania, where
dove hunting has a solid following.

In fact, dove hunting is hugely popular in many states, notably
in the South, as well as foreign countries like Mexico and
Argentina, where visiting hunters pay big bucks to hunt the
migratory birds.

More mourning doves are taken by hunters in the United States
than all other migratory birds combined, and the nation’s fall
population of doves still remains at around 400 million birds.

An estimated two million sportsmen hunt doves in the U.S. and
they harvest about six percent of the fall population – about 24
million birds – each autumn, according to the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service.

Officials, however, say hunting has little effect on dove
numbers since the average life expectancy of a dove is a little
less than one year due to other factors like predation, disease,
weather and accidents.

Wingshooting for doves is generally regarded as outstanding
sport, and in some states is a young hunter’s first trip afield.
Doves are also surprisingly good table fare, and doves in wine
sauce is one of the most common recipes.

While dove hunting in New York hasn’t generated a great deal of
sporting interest, that’s not the case in Michigan.

Michigan is seeking to become the 40th of the 48 states in the
continental U.S. to allow dove hunting, and that state’s House of
Representatives last year passed such a bill by a 64-44 margin.

The vote came after a rally outside the state Capitol by over
1,000 sportsmen and women in favor of dove hunting.

Since then, however, the season has been stalled by opponents of
the dove hunt who have garnered a sufficient number of signatures
on petitions to have the issue placed on the November 2006 election
ballot. While dove hunting was held on an experimental basis in
some counties in 2004, the hunt has since been placed on hold.

With such a seemingly low level of interest in New York, it’s
doubtful a lawmaker would push a dove hunting bill.

“We view it as a huntable population,” Major said. “And doves
our covered by federal regulations, so we could have a season if it
was approved in New York by the Legislature.”

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