Organizational Plan For A Central Dove Technical Committee

August 3-4, 1966 Jackson, Wyoming
Subcommittee members:
Howard Funk (Colorado Department of Game, Fish and Parks)
Marvin D. Schwilling (Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission)
George W. Merrill, Chairman (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish)


The mourning dove is extremely important as a game bird species, seemingly capable of sustaining consistently high harvests. As demands increase upon game birds as a result of increased hunter population, no species appears to be in a better position to keep pace with the demand. Harvest of mourning doves in the United States is presently estimated at between 25 and 36 million birds each year (Tomlinson 1966). Tomlinson further reports that approximately 138 to 198 million shotgun shells are fired annually at doves based on Allen's (1962) findings that 5 to 6 shots were needed to kill one dove. This results in a 1.5 to 2 million-dollar contribution to federal aid research programs from shells alone. This money is apportioned to the states through the P-R programs and each state receives its share of the money whether it hunts doves or not. If it was equally apportioned (which is not the case), each state would receive approximately 30 to 40 thousand dollars in federal aid assistance from dove hunting. This is certainly disproportionate to the small amount presently being spent on doves.

The present knowledge about mourning doves needs to be supplemented by additional information if the maximum capabilities of the resources are to be utilized. These specific research needs can be best accomplished in a joint research effort between the states and the federal government. This effort will be most productive if operated through a centralized dove research committee where programs can be coordinated and ideas can be formulated and exchanged.

This report presents an organizational plan for a Central Dove Technical Committee. This plan may deviate slightly from the original intention of 'the Central Flyway Council when they passed the resolution establishing a dove technical committee in August 1965. For this reason, a sub-committee of the Central Flyway Technical Committee was appointed to draw up plans for the approval of the Central Flyway Technical Committee and the Flyway Council members.

Organizational Plan

Name: It is suggested that this committee be named the Central Dove Technical Committee. Three major dove management units are presently recognized. They are the Western Unit, the Central Unit and the Eastern Unit. These units were described by Kiel (1959) on the biological basis that birds were both produced and harvested within the boundaries of these units. According to Tomlinson (1966) continued analysis generally bears out the preliminary findings.

The states within the Western Unit established a technical committee in 1961. Their organization was named the Western Dove Technical Committee. For purposes of conformity, the name as proposed seems appropriate.

Representation and Membership: The voting membership of the Central Dove Technical Committee shall be one representative from each of the states within tile Central Management Unit. These are Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

Meetings: Annual spring meetings should be held for a one- or two-day period in March or April. Discussion at Denver in April 1966 indicated that representatives of the majority of states would favor meeting just prior to the Central Flyway's technical meeting in Denver. In some cases, one individual would represent a state at both meetings, thus reducing travel expenses. Several states, however, were in favor of an annual rotational system, with each state hosting the meeting in turn. To proceed with the organization a two-day meeting is proposed for 1967 with the meeting held two days prior to the Central Flyway Technical Committee meeting in Denver, Colorado. Amendments to the system can be discussed at this time.

Chairmanship. The rotation of chairmanship can be discussed in the 1967 Denver meeting. An acting chairman should be appointed by the Council in August 1966 to hold office through the April 1967 meeting. The chairman of the Central Dove Technical Committee should work closely with the chairman of the Central Flyway Technical Committee to plan the agenda for these meetings.

Reporting Responsibility: It is suggested that the Central Dove Technical Committee report annually on its activities to its directors at the September International Association of Game and Fish Commissioners' meeting. It is further suggested that a central dove council of the directors of the member states be formed in the 1967 September meeting. This council will act as the supervising body for the technical committee and can discuss its reports and other matters pertinent to the dove program at this time.

Recommendations: The Washington D.C. recommendations meeting is held prior to the International Association meeting in September. Therefore, special problems exist in presenting recommendations to Washington. It is suggested that recommendations be discussed at the spring meeting. Technical committee members can then return and discuss the consensus of opinion with their respective directors. In June, approximately one week prior to the recommendations meeting, the Migratory Bird Populations Station will furnish to the individual states the results of the coo-count surveys. After the results are in the hands of the various states, they can be polled by the Committee Chairman to determine whether they still concur in the spring recommendations. The Council member of the chairman's State, or his delegate, can then represent the Central Dove Unit at the Washington recommendations meeting.

Objectives: The first objective of the Central Dove Technical Committee should be to gather information on which to base management recommendations for the maximum utilization of the resource consistent with proper wildlife management. The second objective should be to strive for a coordinated research effort between the states and federal agencies to provide results of unit-wide application and to avoid needless duplication at effort. This research should be aimed at providing insight into the population dynamics of mourning doves and the factors influencing them so that support can be given to programs benefiting the species.

Specific Accomplishments: The past dove research programs in the Central Dove Unit have mostly been conducted independently by the states concerned. The possible exceptions to this are the states of Missouri and Arkansas that have been active in the Southeastern and Midwestern Dove Technical Committees. There is a need for a more coordinated effort and particularly for the states to take a more active part in dove management.

At present two programs should receive immediate attention. The first is the coo-count or breeding population survey. These surveys are presently being conducted in all states of the central unit. The individual routes have been relocated by the Bureau in a random fashion and the basis for comparing these counts with those of previous years has been established. In this particular area, attention should be placed on the continued refinement and improvement of the survey. Specific needs may be (1) a better understanding of how the counts relate to population size, (2) a production measurement to determine the annual rates of increase, and (3) the stratification of the various states by habitat type so that these measurements can be expanded.

The second program, and probably of greater importance, is to determine distribution of harvest, mortality rates, and to define separate populations of doves. Bandings are the basis for accomplishing these goals and are the most urgent need in dove research if the resource is to be properly utilized. It is hoped that the member states of the Central Unit will assist in this effort and begin or continue pre-season dove banding in the summer of 1967. Other information-gathering programs also deserve attention, such as kill surveys, studies of age and sex composition of the kill, and the effect of woody-plant eradication on breeding habitat.

Conclusion: It is the opinion of the committee that an organized dove research program is urgently needed. As stated in the introduction, demands upon hunting resources are increasing at an accelerated rate. The effects on certain species, such as the mourning dove, need to be studied.

Some of the states in the Central Unit are not presently hunting mourning doves. Information obtained by the committee may be helpful to these states in assessing their situations. In any event their participation in the research programs is urgently needed. It is recommended that all the states in the Central Unit send a representative to the 1967 spring meeting in Denver and that these representatives will be able to commit their respective states to assist in the research programs as suggested in this proposal.

Although it has not been specifically designated in this report, the white-winged dove has been considered as included in this organizational plan. Similarities between this species and mourning doves create, in most instances, similar research needs.


Allen, J. M. 1962. Drainpipe doves. Outdoor Indiana. 5(10):16-20.

Kiel, W. 1T., Jr. Mourning dove management units. U.S. Fish and Wildlife, special scientific report, Wildlife No. 42. 24 pp.

Tomlinson, R. E. 1966. A long-range research and management program for mourning doves. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. Laurel, Maryland. 48 pp. multil.