Hunter Use of Publicly Managed Mourning Dove Fields

We attempted to quantify hunter use in five publicly managed mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) fields during the 2007 and 2008 dove hunting seasons on Conoho Farms (CF) in Martin County, North Carolina. Self-administered diary surveys (n=845) were mailed to every individual receiving a special hunt (SH) and point-of-sale (PS) permit during both dove hunting seasons on CF. We used the modified Tailored Design method to collect hunter effort and harvest data for each hunting season. Data were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis test to determine differences in hunter effort and harvest between seasons and permit types. The adjusted overall response rate for the survey was 74.7%. Only 141 (22.7%) respondents reported hunting doves at CF. Respondents reported expending 801.75 hours (¯x =4.01, SE 0.13), firing 6782 shots (¯x =33.91, SE 2.25), and harvesting 1331 doves (¯x =6.66, SE 0.36) during the 2007-2008 dove hunting seasons. When estimated to the entire population of permitted dove hunters using CF, hunters would have expended 1092.17 hours, fired 9239 shots, and harvested 1813 doves. Hunters reported firing a mean of 5.68 (SE 0.33) shots per harvested dove. Hunter effort, measured in hours expended and shots fired, and dove harvest per hunting event did not differ between seasons, but were significantly greater for SH permittees than PS permittees. The results of this study demonstrate the benefits of conducting targeted surveys of hunters on local scales and the potential for the use of such surveys in management and conservation.

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