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E-M:/ Mourning dove alert--a little history



Here we go again! Despite popular opposition to the hunting of mourning doves, proponents are counting on HB 5478 (which transfers from the legislature to the NRC the authority to designate game species) to slip through as a sleeper bill.  State-wide polls last December showed that an overwhelming majority were opposed to mourning dove hunting, and last year's bill failed.  But it is back again in disguised form.  The Thursday posting by "Ahinga" exposes the lack of scientific credibility on the Natural Resources Commission. The Detroit News and The Oakland Press have editorialized against it. Since the bill is being rushed through (introduced 11/29; passed out of House committee 12/5, advanced to second reading 12/5) there is little time for reasoned discussion.

MOURNING DOVE FACTS:
Mourning doves are significantly declining in the U.S.  Comparably, non-hunting states have significantly higher survival rates than do hunting states, which report declining populations.  Michigan's peak dove population is only about 1% of the total estimated mourning dove population in the U.S.  Michigan is at the far northern reach of the mourning dove's range.  We do not see the migrations other states see coming across their borders.  It is our resident population population that would be hunted if the legal status changed.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION (from the legislative webpage)

Michigan Humane Society v Natural Resources Commission. In 1985, the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) voted to establish a mourning dove
hunting season, and the Department of Natural Resources followed that action by issuing hunting regulations for a 22-day open hunting season for
mourning doves in the fall of 1985. The Michigan Humane Society filed suit against the commission and the DNR challenging their authority to
establish a mourning dove season, and the Michigan Court of Appeals (158 Mich App 393, 1987) found that, while the commission had the power to
establish the time, manner, and bag limits of a hunt, the power to declare an open season rested with the legislature as provided under the then-Game
Law of 1929. The court said, in part, that this matter is too important to rest on the assumption that the NRC has implied authority to establish a
mourning dove season simply because no laws expressly forbid such a season. One year later, the Wildlife Conservation Act repealed the Game Law
of 1929, and replaced and modified several of its provisions, including a provision that only the legislature could designate a species as game and
authorize the establishment of the first open season for a newly designated game animal. Mourning doves were not included on the list of species
considered game under the Wildlife Conservation Act (which since has been repealed and incorporated into the Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection Act of 1994).

.....Argument against the bill:

As the branch of government most closely representative of and accountable to citizens, the legislature should be the only agency entrusted with
making decisions on which native wildlife is to be designated as game. Both the state constitution and the NREPA make it clear that the legislature is
to hold wildlife in trust for the people of the state. Article IV, Section 52 of the state constitution says,

The conservation and development of the natural resources of the state are hereby declared to be of paramount public concern in the interest of the health,
safety and general welfare of the people. The legislature shall provide for the protection of the air, water and other natural resources of the state from
pollution, impairment and destruction. Similarly, Section 40110 of the NREPA, which the bill would repeal, reads as following: Only the legislature may
designate a species as game. If an animal is designated under this section by the legislature as game, then only the legislature may authorize the
establishment of the first open season for that animal. After the legislature authorizes the establishment of the first open season for game pursuant to this
section, the department [of natural resources] may issue orders pertaining to that animal for each of the purposes listed in section 40107.

Game is considered to be among the renewable natural resources of the state, and the legislature statutorily addresses the constitutional mandate to
protect this natural resource under the NREPA. Moreover, by transferring the legislature's authority to designate game, the bill would make it difficult
for ordinary citizens to voice opinions on sensitive issues. For example, if the NRC were to add mourning doves to the list of game, which some people
believe may be one intent of the bill, voters would have an opportunity to attend two public hearings on the issue, but those unable to attend the
hearings wouldn't have the option of notifying their state legislators to make their opinions heard. In testimony before the House committee, the
Michigan Humane Society reminded legislators of the events of 1985, when the NRC voted to establish a mourning dove hunting season, and the
humane society brought suit against the commission to have its decision overturned see (Background Information).