In This Season of Peace?
December 15, 2001 - Traverse
City Record Eagle
A piece of legislation that won overwhelming approval from a state House of Representatives committee in early December and will now be considered by the full House is a wolf in wolf's clothing.
For years, interests that support legalizing the hunting of mourning doves in Michigan have tried coming from every which way to get the law prohibiting it changed. They were stopped each time - legislatively or legally. Now they're trying to come in through the back door, hoping no one is looking.
The bill approved by the House Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Committee would move authority for naming new game species from the Legislature to the Natural Resources Commission. Eagle-eyed mourning dove supporters are crying foul because the measure is similar to some introduced in other states as a way of getting around needing legislative approval to make dove hunting legal. It also opens other protected species to becoming new targets - literally - as well.
Just the fact that the proposed bill is moving forward with lightning speed - introduced Nov. 28, OK'd by the committee Dec. 6, going to the full House now - brings about allegations of ulterior motives from opponents of dove hunting.
You have to wonder if they're not on to something. The Natural Resources Commission, an appointed - not elected - body with friends among hunting interests, actually approved a mourning dove hunting season in 1987. However, a court ruled that the commission couldn't establish a season for a new species of game without legislative approval.
This bill would remove that obstacle.
And why? It's not as though you can hunt doves to feed hungry families. A mourning dove yields about an ounce of edible meat.
No, it's about wanting a live quarry for target practice - one that's not particularly hard to find, pursue - what pursuit? - or shoot, by the way.
Supposedly, safeguards built into the bill in its current form - requiring two public hearings before instituting any new game season, giving veto power over any decision the commission makes to the Legislature - will provide checks and balances, according to the lawmaker who introduced the bill.
But an even better check and balance would be to leave things the way they are - in the hands of elected representatives who must answer to a voting constituency for the decisions they make.
There's still time to write your legislators. In this season of love and compassion, you might send your sentiments in a holiday greeting card - maybe one of the many that feature a dove on the cover. Wish them peace on earth - for mourning doves, too.
The State Humane Society is against this bill. Those who care about mourning doves are against it. Those who don't trust the NRC to put the best interests of wildlife first are against it.
And so are we.
- Songbird Protection Coalition