Missouri Dove Hunters Asked to Report Banded Birds
The birds are part of a national effort to ensure good dove management.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is among 34 states participating in an effort to gather practical information about the nation’s most popular game bird. The agency is placing leg bands on approximately 2,500 mourning doves annually at 15 conservation areas. Hunter reports of taking banded doves will add to scientific understanding of how many doves there are and how hunting affects dove numbers.
“Birds are so mobile, and it is impossible to count them directly,” said Resource Scientist John Schulz. “Instead we capture a relatively small sample of the entire population and band them. Then we compile reports of banded birds taken by hunters and analyze information about where and when they were taken. The resulting statistics reveal a surprising amount of useful information.”
Schulz noted that hunters’ participation is critical to good dove management. He asks hunters who take banded doves to report their finds, using information printed on the bands.
The Conservation Department traps doves using wire cages baited with grain and fits the birds with leg bands before releasing them. Banders average around 100 doves per site, but as many as 600 doves may be banded on some areas.
Hunters who shoot banded birds have three ways to report their good luck. They can send a post card to BIRD BAND, Laurel, MD 20708, call 800-327-2263, or report the band online at reportband.gov/. Regardless of the reporting method, hunters provide the band number, and where and date the bird was killed.
“The better we understand mourning doves’ biology and population dynamics, the better job we can do managing them,” said Schulz. “The hunter’s role is an important one.”
Missouri’s dove season opens Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 9. The daily and bag limits are 12 and 24, respectively. For more information about migratory bird hunting, visit mdc.mo.gov/8927, or get a copy of the 2008 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest wherever hunting permits are sold.