Activists Obtain Signatures to Put Michigan Dove Season on Ballot

Animal rights activists — funded by $100,000 from the Humane Society of the United States’ lobbying arm the HSUS Fund for Animals — apparently managed to collect more than enough signatures to place a measure to overturn Michigan’s recently approved dove hunt on the 2006 ballot.

In 2004, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed legislation making Michigan the 41st state to allow hunting of mourning doves. The first hunt was held in September 2004. The initial hunt was limited to just six counties, to be expanded after at least three years if studies of the hunt prove to be consistent with good wildlife management policies.

HSUS canvassers needed to collect 159,000 signatures from Michigan residents to place the issue on the 2006 ballot, but collected about 275,000 according to the HSUS.

The HSUS’s Michael Markarian said in a press release,

The dove hunters brought this fight to Michigan after the state’s gentle and inoffensive mourning doves were protected here for several generations. The overwhelming statewide support for the petition drive shows that mainstream Michiganders want to restore the century-old ban on shooting doves. They don’t want the state’s official bird of peace blasted into pieces.

Remember, this comes from a group that claims it does not oppose hunting — apparently it just opposes the killing of animals by hunters!

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance president Bud Pidegon said in a press release,

National animal rights groups have invaded Michigan to spread their anti-hunting, anti-animal use agenda while attacking generations of sportsmen. They want to ban all hunting.

This should set up a very interesting showdown in a state where rural hunters are an important political bloc.


More Than 275,000 Signatures Collected to Allow Vote on Restoring Michigan’s Century-Old Dove Shooting Ban. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, March 28, 2005.

Michigan Opens Dove Hunting Season

Michigan opened its first mourning dove hunting season in September after the state National Resources Commission decided to move forward with a limited hunt this year.

The hunt follows a compromise bill signed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm which allows the hunt but requires the NRC to initially hold a limited hunt and study the effects on the mourning dove population.

The initial hunt his year was limited to just six counties. The mourning dove hunt will remain only in limited areas for at least three years, when the NRC will evaluate the effects of the hunt and then determine whether a wider hunt is good wildlife management policy.

The decision made Michigan the 41st state to allow hunting of mourning doves. The full text of House Bill 5029 which repealed the ban can be read here.


Mourning dove likely to become fair game. Michael Kan and Amy Kwolek, The Michigan Daily. September 9, 2004.

Michigan House Bill 5029 — Repeal of Ban on Mourning Dove Hunting

Act No. 160

Public Acts of 2004

Approved by the Governor

June 18, 2004

Filed with the Secretary of State

June 18, 2004

EFFECTIVE DATE: June 18, 2004




Introduced by Rep. Tabor


AN ACT to amend 1994 PA 451, entitled “An act to protect the environment and natural resources of the state; to codify, revise, consolidate, and classify laws relating to the environment and natural resources of the state; to regulate the discharge of certain substances into the environment; to regulate the use of certain lands, waters, and other natural resources of the state; to prescribe the powers and duties of certain state and local agencies and officials; to provide for certain charges, fees, and assessments; to provide certain appropriations; to prescribe penalties and provide remedies; to repeal certain parts of this act on a specific date; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts,” by amending section40103 (MCL 324.40103), as amended by 2000 PA 191, and by adding section 40110a.

The People of the State of Michigan enact:

Sec. 40103. (1) “Game” means any of the following animals but does not include privately owned cervidae species located on a registered cervidae livestock facility as that term is defined in the privately owned cervidae producers marketing act:

(a) Badger.

(b) Bear.

(c) Beaver.

(d) Bobcat.

(e) Brant.

(f) Coot.

(g) Coyote.

(h) Crow.

(i) Deer.

(j) Duck.

(k) Elk.

(l) Fisher.

(m) Florida gallinule.

(n) Fox.

(o) Geese.

(p) Hare.

(q) Hungarian partridge.

(r) Marten.

(s) Mink.

(t) Moose.

(u) Mourning dove.

(v) Muskrat.

(w) Opossum.

(x) Otter.

(y) Pheasant.

(z) Quail.

(aa) Rabbit.

(bb) Raccoon.

(cc) Ruffed grouse.

(dd) Sharptailed grouse.

(ee) Skunk.

(ff) Snipe.

(gg) Sora rail.

(hh) Squirrel.

(ii) Weasel.

(jj) Wild turkey.

(kk) Woodchuck.

(ll) Woodcock.

(mm) Virginia rail.

(2) “Interim order of the department” means an order of the department issued under section 40108.

(3) “Kind” means an animal’s sex, age, or physical characteristics.

(4) “Normal agricultural practices” means generally accepted agricultural and management practices as defined by the commission of agriculture.

(5) “Open season” means the dates during which game may be legally taken.

(6) “Parts” means any or all portions of an animal, including the skin, plumage, hide, fur, entire body, or egg of an animal.

(7) “Protected” or “protected animal” means an animal or kind of animal that is designated by the department as an animal that shall not be taken.

(8) “Residence” means a permanent building serving as a temporary or permanent home. Residence may include a cottage, cabin, or mobile home, but does not include a structure designed primarily for taking game, a tree blind, a tent, a recreational or other vehicle, or a camper.

Sec. 40110a. (1) The legislature hereby authorizes the establishment of the first open season for mourning doves. The commission may issue orders pertaining to mourning doves for each of the purposes listed in section 40113a, including, but not limited to, orders establishing the first open season for mourning doves.

(2) A person shall not hunt mourning doves unless, in addition to the small game license required by section 43523, the person has a current mourning dove stamp. The format of the mourning dove stamp shall be prescribed by the department. The fee for a mourning dove stamp is $2.00.

(3) The department shall transmit money received from the sale of mourning dove stamps to the state treasurer. The state treasurer shall deposit the money as follows:

(a) Fifty percent in the game and fish protection fund created in section 43553.

(b) Fifty percent in the nongame fish and wildlife trust fund created in section 43902.

(4) In the annual hunting guide available from persons authorized to sell licenses under part 435, the department shall include information on all of the following:

(a) How hunters can distinguish mourning doves from other birds.

(b) Management practices for the propagation of mourning doves.

(c) How mourning dove hunting is conducted ethically, lawfully, and safely.

(d) Special opportunities mourning dove hunting offers to youth, the elderly, and the disabled.

This act is ordered to take immediate effect.

Mourning Dove Hunting Season Opens in Minnesota

On September 1, Minnesota’s first mourning dove hunting season in 58 years opened. The state banned dove hunting in 1946, but a law passed in May of this year made Minnesota the 40th state to create a mourning dove season.

The Associated Press reported that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expects 30,000-50,000 hunters to participate in the 60-day mourning dove season. There are an estimated 10-12 million mourning doves in Minnesota.

Rep. Joe Hoppe (R) introduced the Minnesota House version of the bill authorizing the hunt and also turned up on opening day with shotgun in hand to participate in the hunt. Hoppe told the Associated Press,

If hunting hurts the dove population, the DNR certainly will step in and do something about it, and I’ll be the first one to say we shouldn’t hunt doves if that happens.

Animal rights activist Linda Hatfield, however, told the Associated Press that there was no need for a mourning dove season,

There’s no need for it. It’s strictly a target bird. No one claims they need to control mourning doves.

Hatfield’s group, the Animal Rights Coalition, held a vigil the evening before the start of the seasons “to show your opposition to this needless bloodshed and to memorialize the innocent birds who will die this year in Minnesota’s first Mourning Dove hunting season in 56 years.”


Minnesota opens first mourning dove season in 58 years. Associated Press, September 2, 2004.

Mourning For Mourning Doves Vigil. Animal Rights Coalition, August 2004.

Groups Hope to Block Michigan Mourning Dove Hunting

A coalition of animal rights groups calling itself The Committee to Restore the Dove Shooting Ban is collecting signatures in Michigan to block that state’s recent approval of dove hunting. Earlier this year, Michigan became the 41st state to allow hunting of mourning doves.

The group needs to collect 158,000 signatures by March 2005 in order to place their proposed ban on the November 2005 ballot. The earliest such a ban would go into effect would be 2006, which means dove hunting will almost certainly proceed in Michigan this year and next.

Michigan will likely approve trial hunts for the first few year, these being held in counties that border Indiana and Ohio — both states which already allow dove hunting. That would be followed by studies of the impact of hunting on the dove population before deciding whether to expand the hunt into other parts of Michigan.

Fund for Animals president Michael Markarian told the Detroit Free Press,

Voters will have the final say in whether the bird of peace should be blasted into pieces. There is no reason to shoot them, other than for target practice.


Coalition to launch petition drive to ban dove hunting. Bob Gwizdz, Booth Newspapers, August 6, 2004

Opponents of mourning dove hunting to mount petition drive aimed at 2006. Associated Press, August 5, 2004.

HSUS and Fund for Animals On Mourning Dove Hunting Bill in Minnesota

The Humane Society of the United States and the Fund for Animals issued a press release this week complaining about the close vote that saw the Minnesota legislature approve a bill authorizing the first mourning dove hunt in that state in nearly 60 years.

According to the HSUS press release, a bill that would have stricken the mourning dove provision from the bill originally passed 35-31, but when it was brought up for reconsideration, two senators switched their votes and another abstained, which led to the amendment’s defeat and the mourning dove hunt staying in the bill.

The press release quotes HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle as blaming the entire bill on business who want to sell more ammunition to hunters,

By the narrowest of margins, the Senate has decided to reverse a policy that has endured for nearly 60 years and to allow the target shooting of harmless mourning doves. Legislators who voted to allow the needless target shooting of harmless doves dismissed the views of mainstream Minnesotans and instead sided with gun and hunting manufacturers who simply want to sell more ammunition.

Fund for Animals president Michael Markarian added,

Hunting mourning doves serves no wildlife management purpose. There is no overpopulation problem and the birds pose no threat to any person or agricultural interest. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that dove numbers are rapidly dropping in Minnesota.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did in fact show a dramatic drop in the number of doves observed in Minnesota, but this seems more likely to due with the population dynamics of the mourning dove population. In referring to the rapidly dropping population, I’m assuming Markarian is referring to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s estimates that in 2002 there were 16.4 million breeding pairs in Minnesota compared to only 9.3 million in 2003.

But mourning dove populations take very large jumps, both positive and negative, over the years — likely due to the migratory nature of the birds. For example, in Kansas the number of breeding pairs declined by almost 30 million in 1995, only to increase by almost 30 million in 1996. (Another possibility is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s method of estimating the dove population is prone to gross variations from year to year).

There is, however, a generally accepted decline in the mourning dove population due to development, but the total population in the United States is estimated to be in excess of 500 million. Certainly it is not a species that is in any danger of becoming threatened due to hunting.


HSUS Decries Legislation to Allow Target Shooting of Doves in Minn.,; Dove Hunting Has Been Banned for Nearly 60 Years. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, May 11, 2004.

Mourning Dove Population Status 2003. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2004.

Mourning Dove Population Status 2002. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2003.