Oakland Press Editorial
Published January 5, 2005. Oakland
The battle against dove hunting is not over.
Although it was lost in the Michigan Legislature and although Gov. Jennifer Granholm broke a promise and didn't veto it, the fight goes on.
Now petition signatures are being collected in an attempt to put the issue on the November 2006 state ballot.
Nearly 160,000 will be needed by law and as of Friday 103,576 had been collected. The deadline for submitting them is in late March, which will be here before we know it.
Originally the bill to permit the hunting of mourning doves contained a provision for a mandatory referendum, but those who feared voters would reject such a hunt managed to have the requirement dropped.
The Michigan United Conservation Clubs said it will oppose a referendum to ban the hunt, which is no surprise. It was a major supporter of the idea in the first place.
The MUCC certainly showed its political power in the Legislature. A majority of lawmakers voted to approve a dove season, despite evidence that a majority of the public was opposed.
In a nonsensical "compromise" that supposedly swayed the governor, so-called trial dove hunts are being held in six counties along the state's southern border. If no impact on the dove population is detected, the hunt will become statewide.
About 5,000 people obtained dove-hunting permits for the first Sept. 10-Oct. 30 season last year. The limited hunts also are scheduled to be held this year and in 2006, though a successful petition drive might stop them.
There has been no report yet on how many doves were taken last fall or what the impact on the population may have been.
Most already know the story on dove hunting: With little meat on them, the allure is the marksmanship challenge of the "darty" birds. Plenty of similar birds already are legal targets all the time, such as the non-native sparrows and starlings. Largely rural counties are anxious to attract more hunters' dollars to the bars, party stores and campgrounds during a another game season.
There are and will be plenty of opportunities around here to sign petitions. And they can be obtained from the Michigan Humane Society, (248) 799-7400, Ext. 127.
Signing sites include Pet Supplies Plus in Rochester and Farmington Hills on Saturdays, all Humane Society Shelters, Good Foods in Troy and Canton, Uppity Puppy in Royal Oak beginning Jan. 12, Zerbo's in Livonia on Saturdays and outside Cobo Hall during the Auto Show from Jan. 15-24.
If you're opposed to the hunting of mourning doves, take nothing for granted. At this point the effort isn't even half way to its goal of a numbers large enough to comfortably survive challenges of individual signatures.
The MUCC claims it's too soon to try to stop the dove hunt, since no damage yet has been proven.
But that's not the point. There already is plenty of legitimate game to hunt - using birds largely for target practice simply is unjustifiable.
THE DAILY OAKLAND PRESS
- Songbird Protection Coalition