Group Submits Mourning Dove Petition
Published March 30, 2005. By
Melissa Domsic. The State News.
Since last June, when Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the bill to allow mourning dove hunting in Michigan, the Committee to Restore the Dove Shooting Ban has been working to reverse the law.
The committee submitted more than 275,000 petition signatures to the Michigan Bureau of Elections on Monday. If 158,879 of the signatures are confirmed to be from registered Michigan voters, the issue will be included on the November 2006 ballot.
"The Legislature ignored the will of the people," said Julie Baker, campaign director of the Committee to Restore the Dove Shooting Ban.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections has up to 75 days to approve the petition. If accepted, the law will be suspended until the election, ending mourning dove hunting until further notice.
After the law was passed, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved a three-year trial mourning dove hunting season from Sept. 10 to Oct. 30 in Berrien, Branch, Cass, Hillsdale, St. Joseph and Lenawee counties.
"It's never a biological argument as to whether or not we can do it," Michigan Natural Resources Commissioner Bob Garner said. "The whole question is one of emotions, and I suspect the antis may get their way."
A 1998 state House resolution marked the mourning dove as the Michigan Bird of Peace.
"Whether you're burning the American flag or shooting the official bird of peace, it goes against the fabric of our culture," Baker said. "There is no sound reason for them to be used for target practice."
Baker said about 5,000 people circulated the petitions and another 1,500 donated money to the campaign.
Michigan legislation states wildlife management must be based on scientific research, DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff said, adding that studies in other states have shown hunting mourning doves does not cause significant loss to the population.
There are more than 4 million mourning doves in Michigan, and 28,139 were killed last season, the DNR reported.
"We're not threatening the dove population," said David Felbeck, former president of the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners. "People will continue to have doves on bird feeders because the majority that are hunted are rural birds."
Felbeck added that dove hunting would be good for the state's economy, bringing in money from hunters staying in hotels and buying licenses and equipment.
"It's a family sport," he said. "It's a cultural thing."
While members of the Committee to Restore the Dove Shooting Ban waits for the Bureau of Elections to approve their signatures, Baker said they are preparing the campaign to convince Michigan voters to approve the ban next November.
"This will give the majority
a direct voice and the right to vote 'yes' or 'no' on the target
shooting of mourning doves in their backyard community,"
- Songbird Protection Coalition