Songbird Protection Coalition

Hunting Doves Does Not Result in More Doves

Dove shooting proponents have tried to use the "analogy of assumption" to claim that doves use compensatory natality when hunted by man.  They assert that "hunting may actually result in MORE doves in the population rather than fewer doves."  However, to their discredit, the scientific research has actually determined otherwise.

A recent research study by two US Fish and Wildlife Service mourning dove biologists (Berdeen and Otis 2003) concluded that "if doves used a reproductive mechanism to compensate for hunting losses, higher harvest age ratios would be expected at sites with greater hunting pressure.  Harvest age ratio varied by site in one year only, when this ratio was greatest at the site with the lowest hunting pressure.  It appears that there was little evidence of compensatory natality during this study."

Conclusion in layman terms: Dove hunting DOES NOT result in "more" doves in the population!

To the contrary.  According to population surveys (USFWS, Mourning Dove Breeding Population Status Reports, multiple years), "dove populations from groups of non-hunting states in the Northeast and Upper Mideast have had much higher annual survival rates" (Otis 2002 and 2003).  Both shooting states to our south, Indiana and Ohio, continue to note downward trends in the populations over the past 10 years (or since seasons were established).

Management studies (Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, Wildlife Management Institute, Library of Congress, WA DC) show "EMU doves from hunting states clearly experience much higher hunting mortality than do doves from non-hunting states. Estimated kill rates for doves banded in hunting states were more than six times greater than those for doves banded in the Unit's non-hunting states."  Banding returns also suggest that legal hunter kill "may run as high as 50 to 60 percent on local juvenile doves during the early season" (Mississippi State University Extension Service, information sheet 630, and others).  They are killing the newly fledged baby birds!

IMPORTANT NOTE: SPC researchers acquire information and data first-hand from legitimate, well-documented, up-to-date, scientific and research sources. Our statements are based on scientific facts that are followed by the original source (usually USFWS research biologists, year of study) enclosed in parenthesis.  To provide you with irrefutable information, we are extremely careful when we research our data.  Because there are often several consistent/duplicative sources available, "all" sources are not necessarily cited.