Bait Preference and Banding Cost Analysis for Mourning Doves in the Chenier Plain of Southwest Louisiana

The mourning dove (Zenaida macroura; hereafter dove) is among the most iconic symbols for hunting in the southeastern United States. Con-servation and management of this species is a priority for many state wildlife management agencies. Annual banding efforts are one of the main meth-ods used to measure survival and recovery rates, which aid in harvest management recommendations. We examined a number of dove captures using five different bait types over a two-year period in southwestern Louisiana and performed a banding cost analysis. We found milo to be the most efficient bait for banding new doves and total captures (newly banded doves and all recaptures combined), followed by browntop millet. Similarly, milo was least expensive bait per volume, most economical per capture, and yielded the most captures, with a cost of US$1.09 for each new band deployed and $0.25 per capture. Conversely, browntop millet ranked second in the number of new birds banded and total captures but was also the second most expensive bait. We recommend agencies in the southeastern United States consider both bait preference and cost when operating a dove banding program to en-sure banding programs run efficiently and research funds are allocated appropriately to achieve the desired number of captures.

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