Minnesota's first mourning dove season in nearly 60 years will commence this fall.
An estimated 30,000 to 50,000 hunters are expected to hunt doves, with no adverse effect on the bird's population, said Ed Boggess, assistant chief of the DNR wildlife division.
Doves are the most abundant migratory gamebird in the nation, with an estimated fall population of 400 million. Minnesota's fall population is estimated at 10 million to 12 million.
Doves are most commonly hunted around open fields, along tree lines and near water. But they inhabit deserts, pine forests and a variety of other landscapes throughout the 48 contiguous states, Boggess said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulates migratory gamebird hunting, authorizes states to set their dove seasons between Sept. 1 and Jan. 15. There are two options: a 60 day season with daily bag limit of 15, or a 70 day season with daily bag limit of 12. Although a final decision hasn't been made, Boggess said Minnesota's season probably will open on or near Sept. 1, with a daily bag limit of 15.
"Mourning doves begin migrating in late August," Boggess said. "Most birds will have moved out of the state by late September."
Mourning doves are legal game in 40 states. About 25 million are harvested annually nationwide. The Fish and Wildlife Service coordinates an annual mourning dove call-count in cooperation with state agencies. Breeding populations have been monitored since 1966.
"Aside from an additional hunting opportunity," Boggess said, "a mourning dove season would also generate significant economic benefits in rural Minnesota, particularly in southern and western counties of the state. Dove hunting is also an excellent way to introduce new hunters to wing shooting."
Hunters with small game licenses can hunt doves without an additional stamp. But because the birds are migratory, hunters will need to be certified in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program, which can be done at the time of license purchase.
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