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Outdoors with Mike Roux

FOREIGN DOVE IN THE MIDWEST

Published on Monday, August 11, 2014

With August soon to give-way to September, it is almost harvest time. God has blessed us this year with amazing yields and an abundant harvest is eminent. Before we set up camp in the combines we will have the opportunity to begin hunting season. In most states dove season starts on or around September 1st.

On Labor Day evening 2013, I accompanied Beck’s President’s Club Member Luke Terstreip, Sr. to a freshly cut silage field. Luke had done some scouting and we put out a rotating-wing dove decoy and let the birds come to us. Now it is time to explain the title of this story. For the first time in my dove hunting career I saw and killed Eurasian Collared Dove.

                   
    Luke Terstreip, Sr. shows off both collared and mourning dove. (Photo by Mike Roux)

The very first dove I killed that evening was dramatically different from the thousands of mourning dove I have taken in my life. First of all it was HUGE. Secondly it was a very light color, almost beige instead of the dark gray of the dove I am used to. Lastly, the bird had a distinct black ring around the back of its neck. I thought it was a ring-neck dove.

Later in the hunt a pair of dove buzzed the silage and I took them both. Both of these birds were also the larger sub-species that I later learned are actually called Eurasian Collared Dove. The following information was given to me by Ray Marshalla, a dove expert with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The Eurasian Collared Dove is not native to the United States. It was introduced in Florida in the late 1980s. Ray is not sure why or how these birds were released in Florida but their range has been moving northward at a very steady pace since then. They have now been documented in 48 states and provinces.

The first sightings in the Midwest were in 1997 and as of the Dove Census of 2007, Eurasian Collared Dove were recorded in 77 of the 107 counties in Illinois. They are currently most common in south central Illinois. These statistics are bound to go up since Marshalla told me studies have shown this dove’s population can double every 15 months.

These dove are most commonly found very close to towns or grain elevators. They have shown no adverse effects to native dove so far and are a much larger target. They are about 67 percent larger than mourning dove.
                    

                  

Three Eurasion Collared Dove are photographed with a native mourning dove to show the size difference in the doves. (Photo by Mike Roux)

Now for the really good news; since these are not native birds they do not count against your daily dove limit. You can kill your 15 mourning dove and as many collared doves as you wish. You must, however, hunt collared dove using all of the statewide regulations as for native birds. Also, once you take your 15th mourning dove, you must stop shooting. If you wish to stay in the field to shoot collared dove you must do so without keeping your 15th native bird. Rules may vary from state-to-state, so check your local regulations.

So as you can see there are lots of reasons to get out into the field and scratch-out a limit of dove before harvest regardless of what they look like or what they are called. Hopefully this information will help you in the field.

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