- Associated Press - Sunday, October 2, 2016


Actually, for about 12 years now South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Department biologists have been trapping and banding mourning doves as part of a cooperative effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The idea, said GFP wildlife biologist Corey Huxoll, is to gather information on mourning dove movements and populations as a way to track the species’ health, much like the bands used on ducks and geese. Just a little smaller.

“Basically they’ve created a model,” Huxoll said. “So they can get a picture of hunting mortality.”

The Capital Journal reported (https://bit.ly/2d8gkvQ ) each year around 1,400 mourning doves are banded at eight locations throughout South Dakota. Huxoll has been in charge of the GFP banding efforts near Pierre for several years. He said he usually traps and bands around 200 birds every year. In 2016, Huxoll said, he banded 231 mourning doves at a site 11 miles northeast of Pierre.

This reporter harvested one of those doves on Labor Day. According to data held by the U.S. Geological Survey, which maintains the bird banding database, the dove was banded Aug. 1, 2016 and was thought to have hatched earlier in the summer. Huxoll said the dove was one of two bands he’s heard of being returned so far this year.

“Most of the returns come from South Dakota,” Huxoll said.

The second highest number of returned mourning dove bands comes from Texas, he said. The third highest is Mexico.

Mourning dove populations are tracked at the flyway level, Huxoll said, so there isn’t really a solid South Dakota specific population estimate. There are, however, an estimated 350 million doves in North America and every year hunters harvest about 20 million of them. They are, far and away the most widely hunted bird on the continent.

“They’re just so widespread,” Huxoll said.

South Dakota is a slightly different story. Last year, GFP officials estimated about 7,500 hunters harvested around 135,000 mourning doves in the state.

Eurasian collared doves, the slightly larger, lighter colored and louder doves that have come to populate many urban areas over the last few years aren’t tracked, Huxoll said. The Eurasian collared doves are considered an invasive non-native species. As such they can actually be hunted all year, he said.


Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com



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