Harvest Parameters of Mourning Doves in the Chenier Plain of Southwestern Louisiana

Mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) are an important webless migratory game bird in North America, with more doves harvested than all other game birds combined. To understand mourning dove population status and inform harvest and land management decisions at local and regional scales, there is a need to evaluate annual survival and changes in population size. To provide estimates of dove survival and associated harvest parame- ters at our study area in Cameron Parish Louisiana, a popular area for dove hunting, we initiated a banding study at two sites on and near the Rockefel- ler Wildlife Refuge, Louisiana. From 2010 to 2018, we banded 957 mourning doves. We used 174 recaptures from our study area with 46 band recovery reports to model annual survival probabilities, recapture probabilities, recovery probabilities, and fidelity to our study area. Our point estimates of survival and recapture probabilities were greater for after hatch year birds vs. hatch year birds and as expected based on previous studies, but our esti- mates had wide confidence intervals and results were therefore inconclusive. Recovery probabilities were slightly greater for hatch year doves (0.101, SE = 0.022) vs. after hatch year birds (0.038, SE = 0.010), and site fidelity, estimated only for hatch year doves, was 0.358 (SE = 0.139). Overall, our point estimates were not substantially different from those elsewhere in the Eastern Management Unit (EMU), although all were limited in precision. Like other studies on mourning doves, site fidelity was high. Most (89.1%) reported recoveries of our banded doves occurred in Louisiana, especially within the region of our study area. Our findings support the importance of managing, conserving, and recovering the species at the local scale.

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