Outdoor Life Online Editor

Six counties in Michigan got the green light last week to hold the first dove hunts in the state in nearly 99 years. Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a bill that will institute a 3-year pilot program. Afterward the Natural Resources Commission will decide whether or not mourning dove hunting should be expanded in the state. According to the new proposal, the six counties permitted to hold seasons are in the southern portion of Michigan, bordering Ohio and Indiana.

The proposed season is the culmination of 20 years of debate between animal-rights groups and hunters. In 2001 a similar bill that called for statewide hunting failed by one vote in the Senate. And leaders of animal-rights groups are disappointed with Granholm, claiming she reneged on a campaign promise. During her 2002 campaign Granholm responded to a Humane Society questionnaire by pledging to veto any dove seasons.

For others the bill’s passage didn’t go far enough. Rep. Susan Tabor, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, told the Detroit Free Press, “I would have liked to see a statewide hunting season as soon as possible, but this is a good start.”

Michigan joins 40 other states which allow mourning dove hunting. The population of doves in the US is estimated to be around 400 million.