Oakland Press Editorial - Dove Alert!
Published August 26, 2004. Oakland
You may have thought the battle was lost when the state Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill legalizing a hunt in some portions of Michigan.
The major backers of the legislation
promised there first would be an "experiment" in five
counties on Michigan's southern border. Only if it demonstrated
no harm done would a statewide hunt proceed.
The general reaction to that was "yeah, sure." It was written off as a cynical ploy that satisfied no one but Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who was looking for an excuse to sign a bill she'd vowed to veto.
Now, however, Natural Resources Commission Chairman Keith Charters has been quoted as saying the promise is being taken seriously. The decision will be made by the NRC on Sept. 9.
Dove-hunting foes who've attended hearings say the atmosphere is hostile to their views. Nonetheless, it's the more people the better when it comes to weighing in on the necessity of at least keeping the pledge to stage a trial hunt.
Assuming one is held, there will be a subsequent need to make sure the results also are taken seriously. These should not be judged on whether the dove population survives the shooting, which is how Granholm and the NRC are framing the issue now. The doves will survive in large numbers.
The point of opposing the hunt is not so much to prevent the elimination of the species, as with passenger pigeons a century ago. The concerns are the wounding and leaving in the field of a large percentage of birds, damage to power lines from shooting at perching birds and the mistaken shooting of similar but protected species.
Comments on a trial hunt reportedly will be heard until Sept. 9, with any season beginning the next day and lasting until Oct. 30.
The overwhelming number of protesters compared with supporters has been ignored all along by lawmakers and the governor. The ratio has been 2-to-1 against at meetings.
The governor, on a recent visit to The Daily Oakland Press, told us she'd changed her mind on the dove question upon realizing the issue had taken up a lot of legislative time in several sessions and was getting in the way of more important considerations.
But much of the calendar time involved one side waiting on the other while lawmakers were acting on other matters. It was a weak excuse.
Reports are that Lt. Gov. John Cherry, an avid hunter, was instrumental in persuading Granholm to reverse her course.
It is difficult to live with a quarrel in the workplace family, but that's some of what leaders are paid to do.
Meanwhile, opponents of dove hunting are gathering petition signatures with the intention of putting a legal ban on the ballot in 2006. That is no matter whether the trial hunt is held or what its result is.
Those wanting to get involved in the petition drive can call (517) 321-DOVE or e-mail StopShootingDoves.org.
As Yogi Berra says, "The game isn't over till it's over."
THE DAILY OAKLAND PRESS
- Songbird Protection Coalition