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Below is an excerpt from a Missouri Dept. of Conservation newsletter.  The
number of acres planted in crops for doves quadrupled this year.  That means
less habitat for other birds.  Once again, game species management prevails
over management for nongame species.

Yvonne Homeyer
St. Louis

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim Low <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Aug. 22 All Outdoors


> 2. Conservation Department quadruples dove acreage
>
> The goal is to provide excellent dove hunting spots within easy driving
> distance of every Show-Me State hunter.
>
> JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri has plenty of mourning doves, and Missouri
> hunters will find thousands of acres of specially managed fields where
> they can hunt them.
>
> Dove hunting season opens Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 9. John Schulz,
> a resource scientist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says
> hunters will find plenty of doves when opening day arrives.
>
> "The number of doves counted in our roadside survey this year was up in
> five out of eight regions," Schulz said. "The dry weather we are having
> probably is helping doves."
>
> Schulz said mourning doves make flimsy nests that provide little
> protection from the elements, so rainy weather cuts into chicks'
> survival. Dry weather reduces such losses.
>
> Furthermore, doves are ground feeders and are not as agile on their
> feet as quail or songbirds. Consequently, they have trouble reaching
> seeds and insect foods when vegetation is thick. Droughty weather
> decreases undergrowth, giving doves easier access to food.
>
> Schulz said hunter success on opening day will depend heavily on
> Midwestern weather conditions just before Sept. 1 and on local
> availability of food that draws doves into huntable concentrations.
>
> The Conservation Department has made a big push to turn the food factor
> in hunters' favor. This year it has dramatically increased the number
> and acreage of crop fields planted with doves' favorite foods -- mainly
> sunflowers and wheat. Doves appreciate the food plots, and hunters
> appreciate having places where doves are easy to find.
>
> The Conservation Department doubled the number of fields planted for
> doves, and it quadrupled the acreage in such fields. In all, the
> Conservation Department has more than 100 dove hunting fields in 50-plus
> counties. The total acreage is approximately 5,000 acres, four times the
> dove hunting ground available on conservation areas last year.
>
> "The mourning dove is Missouri's most popular game bird," said Wildlife
> Division Administrator Dave Erickson. "That's partly because it's a very
> democratic sort of hunting. It doesn't take lots of experience or fancy
> equipment. Just about anyone can enjoy if they have a place to go, and
> we are doing our best to make sure everyone has a dove hunting spot
> within reasonable driving distance of their home."
>
> Maps showing the locations of dove fields are available through
> Conservation Department regional offices statewide. A list of
> conservation areas with dove fields and maps of the areas is available
> at http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/hunt/gamebird/dove/. The latest
> mourning dove status report also is available at
> http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/hunt/.
>
> Areas where dove population indices were up compared to last year
> include the Mississippi Lowlands (+31.5 percent), Ozark Plateau (+26.2
> percent) Western Prairie (+19.7 percent), Northwestern Prairie (+12.7
> percent), and Western Ozark Border (+2.6 percent). Areas where indices
> dipped this year were the northern and Eastern Ozark Border (-16.6
> percent), Northern Riverbreaks (-14.3 percent) and Northeastern
> Riverbreaks (-6.3 percent).
>
> Although dove numbers were down from last year in the Northern and
> Northeastern riverbreaks, these areas remain 10.4 and 6.9 percent above
> their 10-year averages, respectively. Statewide dove numbers were 3.9
> percent higher than last year and 5.5 percent greater than the 10-year
> average.
>
> Dove hunters ages 16 through 64 must buy a Small Game Hunting Permit
> and a Missouri Migratory Bird Hunting Permit to pursue doves. Shooting
> hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
>
> Although mourning doves are the primary object of dove hunters'
> attention, Missouri also has one exotic dove species and another native
> species that is seen occasionally. Eurasian collared-doves and
> white-winged doves are legal game in Missouri, but they must be included
> in the aggregate daily limit of 12 and the possession limit of 24 doves.
>
>
> Full details on dove season regulations are available in the 2003
> Migratory Bird Hunting Digest. The booklet is available free of charge
> at Conservation Department offices and wherever permits are sold.
>
> - Jim Low -
>
>


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