According to those who track bird numbers, there are about 350 million mourning doves in the United States. They are the most common dove in this country and a popular target for hunters who shoot 20 million mourning doves each year. There is no dove season in New Hampshire; hunting them is most popular in the south and midwest.
A college friend of mine, Kay Neumann, is working with others in Iowa to urge that State to require a switch from lead shot to steel shot when hunting dove. She notes several reasons why this is needed:
- Research shows that as many doves die from ingesting lead shot and resulting lead poisoning as are harvested during hunting seasons (approximately 17 million birds annually).
- If doves are cleaned in the field, carcasses may be left behind offering a food and poisoning source for many raptor species.
- Federal law bans lead shot for all waterfowl hunting, on public and private land. Research confirmed that this ban has saved millions of ducks from dying of lead poisoning, resulting in cost effective conservation.
I am glad there is no dove season in New Hampshire, but if there were I hope hunters would rally behind the use of non-toxic shot.