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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Banding program helps AGFC to understand doves

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Where doves travel, how many of them survive hunting

seasons and other information on the popular and

prolific birds are the objects of research under way in

Arkansas and 25 other states.

In Arkansas, dove hunting is customarily the first

weekend of September, then so long. Other seasons

come along, and doves are forgotten until the following

September. But a small number of Arkansans have

learned doves provide challenging and handy hunting

into cooler, even cold, weather.

Dove hunting dates for the upcoming 2003-2004

season were set so the latter portions coincided with

duck season. The idea is to give hunters an option of

ducks in the morning, doves in the afternoon -- if they

choose so. But scientific knowledge is short on doves,

particularly their habits and how hunting affects them.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife

biologists Mike Widner and Matt Mourot work out of the

agency's Mayflower office and were joined on a recent,

comparatively cool morning by Bob Conley and Kenny

Vernon. The assignment was to trap doves, attach

numbered leg bands, record data about each bird, and

then release them.

The setting for the trapping and banding work was on

the southern edge of Conway, with the Virco

Company's nature and wildlife preserve provided a

handy location.

The 16 traps were low cages, a funnel opening letting

doves in to feed on grain, with protruding wires in the

inside of the funnels keeping the birds from getting

back out. Proso or white millet was the bait.

Singly, in pairs, in small flights, the zippy doves winged

over and along the ridge as morning light increased.

Soon they began landing around the cages and on the

cages. Blackbirds joined them. Food was available.

The biologists studied the cages with binoculars.

When close to a dozen doves were in the cages and

unable to get out, the biologists walked up and began

their recording and banding, one bird at a time.

Primary flight feathers were checked to determine age,

and many of the doves were youngsters, hatched this

year. The small, light bands were attached and listed by

number on a data sheet, then the birds were gently

tossed aloft to take wing again.

This fall, hunters will be asked to report banded doves

they kill. A toll-free number is on each of the bands;

1-800-327-BAND (or 1-800-327-2263). Hunters can call

24 hours a day Monday through Friday.

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