Un-retrieved and Wounded

Hunter harvest and crippling loss within the continental US has been estimated to be approximately 70 million birds each year (1).  Only about 45 million of these are legally bagged (2).  So what happened to the millions of birds that were not bagged?

As a ground feeder, mourning doves have evolved an effective camouflage which blends within its habitat, especially during late summer and fall.  In comparison to other hunted species, finding downed doves in their environment is very difficult and results in an uncustomary high irretrievable loss rate.

Furthermore, the targeting of a fast erratic flyer, like the mourning dove, is a challenge even for the experienced hunter.  Shots taken are not clear kill shots which result in a significant crippling loss rate average of about 30 percent (3).  These downed birds, if not found, are left to slowly suffer until they die.

Although the use of a retriever dog can significantly increase the efficiency rate of recovery, most dove hunters do not use them.  Dogs do not like to retrieve doves, the feathers shed easily and are small, numerous, and cling to the inside of their mouth....most dogs immediately go "ptooey" and continue to cough and spit for five minutes (4).

Compounding the problem, a substantial number of illegal activities and violations are associated with the shooting of doves as a hunted species.  Wardens with limited resources are forced to pursue violators who double dip by shooting twice the bag limit to recover one bag limit and hunters who participate in multiple bagging.

Set daily bag limits do not reflect hunting pressure waste.  Abandoned dead and crippled birds are an undeniable cruel result of dove season.

Note: Scientific data, research, studies, etc...were compared and complied from multiple sources. Although some research is sited, this is not the limit to which conclusions were assessed. (1) Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, Missouri Department of Conservation. (2) USFWS, Humane Society of the United States. (3) Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, SE Assoc of Game and Fish Commissioners 1957, JH Dunks 1970, GH Haas 1977, and others. (4) Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove, Fund for Animals, Bismark Tribune Outdoor Journal.


Songbird Protection Coalition