Dove Hunters Asked to Consider Stocking Up on Nontoxic Shot as Season Approaches

Mourning Doves by Andrew Atzert
Mourning Doves by Andrew Atzert

(Washington, D.C., August 13, 2013)  September 1 means the start of fall hunting seasons and the beginning of dove season across much of the country. As dove season approaches, American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick is joining many hunting community leaders in asking hunters to consider stocking up on nontoxic shot (or steel shot) in an effort to voluntarily reduce lead poisoning in doves and other ground-feeding songbirds.

“Purchasing non toxic shot early assures availability and takes advantage of preseason sales. Increasing numbers of hunters have switched to steel shot or are thinking about it so we’d hate to see them get stymied trying to do the right thing,” Fenwick said.

ABC has been encouraging the hunting community to voluntarily switch to non-lead alternatives based on hundreds of peer-reviewed research projects showing that millions of birds are poisoned every year following ingestion of shotgun pellets mistaken for grit or seed. Grit, typically eaten off the ground, is a natural part of many birds' diet.

In some parts of the country, such as the central and western states, declining dove populations have been a cause for concern. Lead poisoning could be one of several factors contributing to the declines, but it is a factor that has a simple solution: nontoxic shot.

“A Mourning Dove ingesting a single lead pellet is essentially a dead dove. Voluntarily using nontoxic shot for dove hunting isn’t anti-hunting; it is pro-wildlife and pro-environment,” Fenwick said.

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