Oakland Press Editorial
Predictably, there's another bill floating around Lansing that would legalize the hunting of mourning doves.
It's come up twice before in the last few years and, obviously, has failed to become law. Both times, it was opposed in this space and is again - dove hunting, not hunting in general.
The main justifications for a dove season seem to be that other states do it and that it would help encourage youngsters to learn to hunt and enjoy it.
What other states do - some 30 of them - is neither here nor there. And if young folks are to embrace hunting as a life-long source of enjoyment it will be because their parents took them along and trained them, not because there's something more to hunt.
Almost 40 species of birds and animals are legal to hunt in Michigan now. That ought to be enough.
The dove, though, apparently has a special allure.
It is said to make a good and lively target. Marksman enjoy the fact that they're small, fast and erratic in the air. And for the less accomplished shooters they can be good for target practice.
Doves would be the only legal perching game bird. They sit on utility wires where they can be picked off easily. Erratic shooters on the ground can damage equipment on the utility poles.
Experience in states in which dove hunting already is legal shows that many nondoves are shot. Protected birds of a similar size and profile are targeted by mistake.
And a seemingly inordinate percentage of the doves shot are not found or are ignored. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates their number at 30 percent of those hit.
Unlike some game, doves are no threat to the environment, other birds and animals or people. They don't kill. They don't carry disease. And there aren't so many of them that they're a nuisance, as sometimes is the case with deer, for example.
If their population was going to explode it would have done so sometime during the nearly 100 years that dove-hunting has been illegal in this state.
Then there is the notion that hunting really ought to have something to do with putting food on the table, if only in theory. The thought of killing purely for fun bothers some people. At a weight of about 4 ounces, there isn't much on a dove to eat. They certainly aren't hunted for their meat as ducks and pheasants and grouse are.
Dove-hunting bills have been used before - and may be again - as cover for amendments that would strip the state Legislature of its hard-won power to determine what will and won't be hunted.
That would be turned over to the Natural Resources Commission, which has been accused in the past of sometimes being too much a tool of the sporting lobby which, like any other, has a narrow interest.
On the other hand, having the Legislature decide has been criticized as letting "politics" prevail. But that's where we want to see the most important decisions made, such as what we will and will not hunt.
The Oakland Press
- Songbird Protection Coalition