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Survey will explore dove hunter opinions

CHEYENNE — The National Dove Hunter Survey, a cooperative effort by state fish and wildlife agencies, all four flyway councils and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will ask dove hunters from across the U.S. to share their experiences and opinions about dove hunting.

Topics will include learning about hunter characteristics, time spent hunting, their perceived constraints to hunting, and thoughts about potential effects of spent lead from hunting ammunition on mourning doves and other wildlife.

On a national scale, Wyoming dove hunting has a small but loyal following. Often times a cold snap hits Wyoming in late August or early September triggering a migration of many of the doves to warmer climates.
But, according to Wyoming Game and Fish migratory Game bird biologist Larry Roberts, those who do go dove hunting in Wyoming are generally quite successful. “In a report that tracked dove hunter activity from 2002-2011, Wyoming averaged nearly 2,500 hunters each year with an annual harvest of 31,500 doves,” Roberts said. “This averages out to nearly 13 birds per hunter each season.”

Dr. Ken Richkus of the Service’s Population and Habitat Assessment Branch said that nationally, there are more than 1 million dove hunters in the United States.

“This survey will encompass all regions of the country and will give us an excellent picture of hunter opinions and needs,” Richkus said. “The Service and the states want to make sure we use the best science-based information for the management and conservation of our migratory bird resources and take hunter opinions and preferences into account whenever possible.”

As with most surveys, not every dove hunter in the country is contacted, but enough surveys are sent out to where a statistically viable sampling of opinion can be created. The survey will be mailed randomly to hunters in different parts of the country. This survey was originally scheduled to be mailed last year, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, was delayed. The National Dove Hunter Survey is scheduled to begin in June and will be compiled by the end of the year.

Dove hunters to be surveyed were gathered from the database of the National Harvest Information Program from hunters who had indicated on the HIP questionnaire that they had went dove hunting. A HIP permit is required of all licensed hunters who hunt migratory birds.

Hunters receiving the survey are encouraged to respond to the first request to speed up the process and save time and expense of follow-up survey reminders.

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