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24
Dove hunting season is on in Branch County

By roland stoy-Staff Writer
COLDWATER -- A mourning dove hunting season opened a half-hour before dawn last Friday in Branch County, approved after much debate and many legislative battles by the state Natural Resources Commission (NRC) last Thursday in a 7-0 vote.

Ray Mitoska, of Ray's Gun Shop in Coldwater said the hunters did not beat down his door seeking a $2 dove license to go along with their small game permits.

"I had a few guys come in planning to hunt them, and they bought some light-load shells, but I don't think we will have a big dove season in Branch County," he said. "You need a lot of doves to make a meal. The goose season is on right now, and then it will be pheasants."

Pat Heinemann, of Heinemann's Taxidermy, Bait and Tackle, another popular stop for hunters as well as fishermen, said "I haven't heard anybody say anything about it. It's unbelievable, as much controversy as there was over it. I'm sure there's some guys out there hunting, but I haven't heard anything."

Dove hunting is now legal in the six westernmost counties along the Ohio and Indiana borders, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The AP said Michigan became the 41st state to allow the hunting of America's most populous game bird with the season running through Oct. 30 and a bag limit of 15 birds per day.

The hunt continues through 2006, when the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will review the effects on the dove population.

The NRC meeting was devoid of protests from opponents and only a handful of people made statements urging the commission to legalize the hunt.

The AP said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, came from Washington to watch the vote and said they will collect the 158,000 signatures needed to let voters decide in 2006 whether the hunt should continue. He said that would stop the state from holding the 2005 and 2006 hunts until the vote is held.

Mourning doves are among the most common birds in North America, with a population that fluctuates between 400 million and 500 million.

Mitoska said large numbers of them are seen sitting on telephone wires in the country. Hunters normally try to shoot the birds as they fly into grain fields to feed, and doves are considered the hardest game bird to hit, with a national average of seven shotgun shells fired for every dove killed.

Mitoska said there was a one-day season on doves "15 or 20 years ago. I bought a license for a dollar and the next day the Supreme Court ruled against it."

Mitoska said he has never eaten mourning dove, but that hunters from Indiana have told him they are "delicious."

Final public hearings set for city council meeting tonight

COLDWATER -- Final public hearings before the Coldwater City Council are set tonight for three related industrial tax abatements requested from the city.
Dove hunting season is on in Branch County

COLDWATER -- A mourning dove hunting season opened a half-hour before dawn last Friday in Branch County, approved after much debate and many legislative battles by the state Natural Resources Commission (NRC) last Thursday in a 7-0 vote.

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