Program helps biologists track harvest, calculate population trends

PRATT -- In the third year of a three-year mourning dove banding project involving Kansas and 25 other states, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) is asking dove hunters to look for leg bands on the mourning doves they shoot. The purpose of this banding project is to estimate annual survival rates, harvest rates, and distribution of the harvest, as well as to refine techniques for a future dove-banding program. This data is necessary for understanding population trends and responsibly managing dove harvests.

The hunter is a critical link in this mourning dove banding study. By checking all harvested doves for bands, and reporting banded doves, hunters help biologists manage this important migratory game bird. Because dove bands are small, hunters can easily overlook the bands. KDWP asks dove hunters to carefully check all doves bagged for the presence of a leg band.

Report banded mourning doves by phoning 1-800-327-BAND (2263). Banded birds may also be reported on the internet at . Hunters can keep the bands and will be provided a certificate identifying the age, sex, date, and location the bird was banded.

Kansas dove season begins Sept. 1 and is split, with the first segment running through Oct. 14 and the second segment running Nov. 1-16. Four species of doves -- mourning, white-winged, Eurasian-collared, and ringed-turtle -- are legal to hunt in Kansas although mourning doves are the only commonly-harvested dove species in the state. The 15-dove daily bag limit can include any combination of these four species.

Mourning doves are hunted in 39 states, and harvest of mourning doves exceeds that of any other migratory game bird. Kansas typically has one of the largest mourning dove breeding populations and ranks in the top 10 in dove harvest.

For more information on the dove-banding program in Kansas, phone Helen Hands at 620-793-3066 or email her at .