US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



United States Department of the Interior U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Washington, DC (September 2005).



This document provides a long-range vision for improving mourning dove management through the development of predictive harvest strategies. The purposes of this plan are to: (1) promote the concept of coordinated management of mourning doves to insure uniformity of regulatory action and equitable conservation across the species range in the 3 Mourning Dove Management Units; (2) acknowledge the need to recognize demographic differences among management units; and, (3) acknowledge that the current harvest management system, and the knowledge base supporting it, needs improvement. Future recommendations will be made regarding management unit-specific harvest strategies and initiation of new, long-term monitoring efforts.

Management has consisted of annual population trend surveys and the establishment of annual hunting regulations. Additionally, some states conducted either annual or periodic harvest surveys. These survey and harvest data, however, did not give managers the ability to either correlate or predict the impact of regulation changes on harvest or population levels. For example, hunting opportunity was restricted in the Western Management Unit (WMU) beginning in 1987 due to long-term dove population declines. The dove population in the WMU appears to have stabilized, but it is unlikely that hunting was solely responsible for the decline that prompted these restrictions. Unfortunately, available data were insufficient to allow managers to relate demographic parameters to harvest or hunting regulations.

Managers have increasingly become concerned about the status of mourning dove populations given their economic and social importance, and apparent population declines. Management concerns include: (1) limited data upon which to make harvest management decisions; (2) population survey results indicating declines; and, (3) uncertainty regarding the cause of population declines. Some managers believe that hunting opportunity should be commensurate with population status while others believe that a restriction on hunting opportunity is unnecessary when harvest is not known to be the causative factor of a decline.