New effort to gauge support for Michigan dove hunting

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New efforts rise over dove hunting.

Both sides begin letter campaigns in Michigan.

Detroit Free Press

October 15, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The debate over whether to legalize dove hunting is stirring again, with a coalition opposed to such a change planning to step up its efforts.

Rep. Susan Tabor, R-Delta Township, has begun a letter campaign to gauge whether she has enough support to reintroduce a bill to legalize dove hunting. The same bill failed by one Senate vote last December.

The Lansing State Journal reported that Tabor said she has no immediate plans to reintroduce the legislation. But she said she would if she gets enough letters of support.

"I still want to see mourning dove hunting in Michigan," Tabor said. "I haven't changed my mind on that. And I will push for it again if there's enough support out there."

Countering her efforts are about 4,700 members of the Lansing-based Songbird Protection Coalition. The group, formed in response to Tabor's attempt last year, has started its own letter campaign.

"We have several ideas in the works, but I don't want to reveal those just yet," said Julie Baker, one of the founding members.

A message posted last week on the Web site for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Ownership urges people to help promote passage of the dove hunting bill by writing to Gov. John Engler. The message blames animal rights activists for the failure of the bill last year.

The message says it is from Tabor and Jim Shaeffer, vice chairman of the state council of Pheasants Forever. Tabor said she did not write the letter but that the coalition asked whether it could put her name on it, and she obliged.

Tabor is a member of the gun ownership coalition and is on the board of the group's educational foundation.

Helping her with the campaign will be the Dove Sportsmen's Society of Michigan, created this summer to help promote legislation to create a dove season.

There have been several efforts to end the 96-year ban on hunting mourning doves.

The Senate passed similar bills three times, most recently in 1995, but they died in the House.

In 1987, a court stopped the Michigan Natural Resources Commission from establishing a dove hunting season without the Legislature's approval.

Supporters say the migratory birds are fun to hunt because their fast, erratic flight patterns make them a challenge to shoot.

Opponents, which include the Humane Society of America, say there is no reason to shoot doves because they yield only an ounce or less of meat and can be confused with some protected birds.

Thirty-nine other states have made mourning doves legal targets.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are more than 400 million of the birds, including about 4 million in Michigan.
 

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