Animal Protection Groups Urge Wisconsin Governor Doyle to Suspend Dove Hunt

The Humane Society of the United States
Thursday, 28 August 2003

Today, HSUS and The Fund for Animals (The Fund), two of the nation's largest animal protection organizations, with a collective membership in Wisconsin exceeding 150,000, called upon Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle to suspend the mourning dove hunt set to begin on September 1. Wisconsin has never had a dove hunt, and the full Legislature has not authorized a hunt. The hunt is set to start on Monday and last 60 days, with each hunter legally allowed to shoot up to 15 birds a day.

In 1971, the Legislature declared the mourning dove the "state symbol of peace" and dropped the bird from the "game bird" list. The Legislature has taken no action to reverse that decision. The Department of Natural Resources did hold meetings in counties throughout the state on the issue before instituting a hunt, but opponents of the dove hunt argue that the DNR does not alone have the authority to institute a new hunting season on a bird or mammal. The groups note that the Michigan DNR tried a similar maneuver in the 1980s, and the state courts rejected that effort; since that time, the Michigan Legislature has rejected all efforts to authorize a dove hunting season.

Wisconsin Citizens Concerned for Cranes and Doves, a non-profit organization consisting of hunters and non-hunters, has sued to halt any hunting of doves in Wisconsin, and its case has been in the courts for more than two years. The case is now pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but the court's ruling is not expected to come until after the planned 60-day season has ended.

"Governor Doyle, we urge you to exercise your executive authority and suspend the impending hunting season on mourning doves until the Wisconsin Supreme Court makes a final ruling on whether the Department of Natural Resources acted within its authority in instituting a hunt," stated Wayne Pacelle, a senior vice president of The HSUS. "This hunt rests on an unsound legal basis, it is not a Wisconsin tradition, and it is cruel and wasteful."

"Governor Doyle must intervene and preserve the centuries-old Wisconsin tradition of protecting gentle mourning doves from target practice," said Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals. "The state symbol of peace should not be blasted into pieces."

Wisconsin has never had a hunting season on mourning doves. Pacelle and Markarian note that there is a good reason that the state has long banned dove hunting. Doves are small, and yield but a morsel of meat. Dove shooting essentially amounts to target shooting of live birds. "The lead shot that hunters discharge on a day of gunning for doves far outweighs the mass of the birds they kill," adds Pacelle.

For more information, or to contact The Humane Society of the United States, see their website at:

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