No limit dove hunt in Texas!


Box T
September 3, 2008, 07:34 PM
:what: I can't believe TPWD officials thought this was a good idea. I'm really interested to see what the details of the contract were.

"Monday, September 01, 2008

BROWNWOOD — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials have called a halt to a controversial no-limits, preseason dove hunt being conducted over the holiday weekend by department staffers in Brown County.

Parks and Wildlife staff members said Sunday that the hunt was the beginning of a scientific study of the effectiveness of steel shot for mourning doves, but the timing of the event has raised complaints.

For other Texas hunters, dove season officially opens today, but 22 volunteer shooters recruited by an outfitter who has a contract with the department for hunting access killed 320 doves Saturday, said Scott Boruff, deputy executive director for operations.

Boruff said the original plan under the contract with the outfitters had been for the shooters and observers to move to fields in Coleman County on Sunday to try to collect the remainder of the 500 doves needed for the study.

But outfitter David Davis of Brownwood, who has hunters scheduled to hunt a field adjacent to the early hunting location, complained Saturday that his hunters were being unfairly affected by the plan. He questioned why the department-sanctioned study needed to be conducted before dove season opened elsewhere.

"I didn't understand why they were out there hunting, next to the field where I'm going to have to carry hunters Monday, and doing it before the season opens," Davis said.

Boruff, responding to a call from the American-Statesman, contacted Parks and Wildlife staffers at the site and canceled Sunday's hunt. He said he didn't know whether the hunt would be allowed to go forward today.

"The outfitter won a contract to coordinate the hunt," Boruff said.

That outfitter, who is being paid an undisclosed amount by Parks and Wildlife, was responsible for contacting landowners around the hunting site to get their approval, as well as recruiting the shooters who were given free shells and allowed to kill as many doves as they could during the shoot.

Boruff said he believed the proposal and design were sound but said he couldn't explain why the department's Wildlife Division decided to conduct the hunt — done with permission and permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — prior to the opening of regular hunting seasons in Texas.

No details of the outfitter's contract were available Sunday, Boruff said.

The amount of money he was paid, whether he was allowed to charge the shooters who came from outside the Brownwood area and how the outfitter was recruited should be detailed in a copy of the contract to be released later this week, he said.

In addition, the amount of money spent by Parks and Wildlife personnel, as many as 60 by one account, to travel from around the state and spend multiple days in a Brownwood motel will have to be factored into the cost of the event.

In the meantime, Boruff is dealing with the public-relations fallout that Parks and Wildlife officials are facing as a result of their own employees moving into one of the state's prime dove hunting areas and killing hundreds of birds two days before the season opens. Why did it happen?

"I don't know," Boruff said. "I don't have a good answer for that. I don't want to kill the project if I can help it but I'm disappointed we didn't catch this before it got to this. I would have made a different decision (on hunting early) if it had floated up to me, but it didn't." "

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September 4, 2008, 02:07 PM
I would also have been ticked if my hunt was around that area. It seems TPW might be planning on banning lead shot for hunting.

September 4, 2008, 03:37 PM
If they are planning on banning lead shot, I would like to know why. I hope it isn't any of that California nonsense making headway over here....

If anyone has updates, please post so we can contact the be-jeebers out of them and set them straight.

September 4, 2008, 04:03 PM
22 shooters took 320 doves?

In California, that would be just over the limit (and we have no limit on the various doves other than Mourning and Whitewing). In Arizona, it would be under the limit.

I understand the objection, but these shooters didn't exactly shoot that many birds.

September 4, 2008, 04:26 PM
thats under the limit for some of TX too, but it is still a hunt that took place BEFORE the season was open.

September 4, 2008, 05:12 PM
Sounds like a party for the "privileged" under the guise of research . . . get ready for steel & ultra-expensive "other" loads, folks. There's a similar move afoot to ban lead shot in WA State (and, I assume, handgun/rifle projectiles will be next on the agenda).

El General
September 5, 2008, 10:55 AM
I don't think TPWD is planning to ban lead, but they might be preparing for a federal ban on lead shot.

El General
September 5, 2008, 10:57 AM
Here is an article with some explanation from TPWD.

AUSTIN, Texas – While Texas hunters were dusting off shotguns and stocking up on ammunition in advance of the Sept. 1 dove season opener in most of Texas, a research team was out two days prior to the season collecting bird specimens for a research study on the effectiveness of various shotshells, including non-lead shot.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologists are in the first year of a multi-year study to determine the effectiveness of different load types on wild mourning doves using trained observers and volunteer shooters. This study is the first of its kind for doves and is based on a similar lethality research project in Missouri and Louisiana on waterfowl in the 1980s.
“The main premise of this research is to clarify if there is a difference between perception and reality in wounding rates and killing efficiency of lead shot and non lead shot on mourning dove,” said Jay Roberson, TPWD dove program leader and the study organizer. “TPWD does not have a position for or against non lead shot for doves, but we recognize the importance of this issue. Our objective is to replace perceptions with facts.”
The study design calls for three consecutive sessions using the same shooters paired with the same observers to ensure consistency across three types of shotshell loads. The research objective is to obtain under a controlled study environment 500 mourning dove specimens killed with one shot in each of the next 2-3 years. Collections are being conducted by permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This year, 22 volunteer shooters participated in each of two collection sessions on Aug. 30 and produced about 400 specimens.
However, due to questions raised Aug. 30 about the department’s decision to conduct collection efforts prior to the Sept. 1 dove season opener, TPWD suspended collection for Aug. 31. The department received complaints those activities would negatively impact hunter opportunity on adjacent property. Collection efforts resumed on Sept. 1 and the goal of 500 total specimens was reached.
Timing for the collection was critical to achieve the study objectives in an effective and efficient manner. August 30-31 were chosen for collections because of the need for typical representative feeding field shooting conditions and collecting efficiency.
“We needed the confluence of lots of doves with adequate number of shooters,” explained Roberson.
According to Roberson, during last year’s pilot phase of the study, dove specimen collection for the research project took place on opening weekend of the hunting season, Sat., Sept. 1 and Sun., Sept. 2. This year Sept. 1 fell on a Monday, so Aug. 30-31 were chosen for collections because of the need for typical representative feeding field shooting conditions and collecting efficiency. If the collection was delayed until opening day this year, project organizers foresaw several potential problems that would jeopardize the study’s validity.
“We could have spread the collection effort over several weekends during the season,” Roberson said. “Using results from last year’s pilot, it would have required a minimum of 5 to 6 weekend efforts, which meant travel costs and weekend commitments from 24 trained observers.
“We also saw a problem getting 24 volunteer shooters to travel at their own expense to Central Texas to participate in a multi-day collection over the course of several weekends,” he added. “It would be unrealistic for us to expect the same group of volunteers and observers to commit to that kind of protracted schedule.”
And there other important reasons researchers concluded the collection needed to occur before opening day. They needed to collect doves that had not previously been struck and carrying pellets from other shot types. Waiting until after the opener would have risked collecting doves that had been hit, but not killed, by hunters that were not part of the research effort. Researchers also needed to most nearly estimate the wounding rates and killing efficiencies of Texas-produced doves that would occur on an opening weekend when the majority of doves are harvested.
Researchers were concerned about a perception that dove collection for the project might reduce hunting opportunity on adjacent property. For this reason, the research contract specified that the test be conducted as far away as possible from adjacent landowners, who were notified in advance and gave informed consent.
“Our intent was never to reduce hunting opportunity on adjacent landowner property,” said Scott Boruff, TPWD deputy director of operations. “We understand the perception that our collection effort may have been poorly timed. We are listening to concerns and will factor them into future decisions regarding our research processes.”
It’s worth noting that these research project collections are very small in relation to total harvest, hunters and land area hunted annually in Texas. There are about 5 million doves taken in Texas each year. There are nearly 600,000 acres in Brown County. The research project contract was limited to 550 acres for Aug. 30-31 and carried out in an 80-acre pasture.
Tom Stephenson, Dallas-based outfitter, was awarded the contract with a winning bid of $32,390. For his role, Stephenson was required to provide fields, facilities and associated services. In particular, Stephenson had to provide at least five fields totaling 400 acres during Aug. 24-29 for training observers.
In addition, Stephenson was required to provide a minimum of 150 acres well-populated with mourning doves providing a high probability that 24 volunteer shooters will accumulate at least 300, one-shot killed specimens over six separate morning and afternoon shooting sessions on Aug. 30-31.
Stephenson also provided on site lodging and facilities and resources for observers and support staff throughout the training phase.
Stephenson was also responsible for recruiting 24 volunteer shooters representing a diverse demographic. There was no stipulation in the contract prohibiting Stephenson from assessing a fee to ensure or enhance participation.
Tom Roster, an international consultant on migratory game bird wounding mortality, trained and certified 22 observers during that six-day period. His Cooperative North American Shotgunning Education Program (CONSEP) will handle x-ray and necropsies on the dove specimens collecting during the study. For his services, Roster has been paid $35,000 for necropsies and x-rays of 100 carcasses collected during the pilot phase last year and $5,295 for tests on shotshell performance. He will be paid an additional $15,000 this year for training of observers.
“This is the first year in a multi-year study,” said Boruff. “Texas has the largest contingent of dove hunters in the nation and this scientific information will be invaluable in the future when our leadership is faced with making decisions about dove management.”
TPWD is conducting a number of studies related to dove hunting in addition to the shot lethality research. These studies are ongoing and no conclusions are anticipated in the near future. In addition to the dove shot lethality study, research efforts include:
• A lead toxicity prevalence study to identify the proportion of doves with toxic levels of lead in bone and tissues across the state.
• A dove banding and recovery study to provide estimates of survival rates before and after implementation on non-lead shot in experimental areas.
• A human dimensions study to gauge dove hunter attitudes toward non-lead shot.
No proposal for hunting regulation rule change regarding the use of different types of shot for mourning dove is anticipated in the near future. Any TPWD proposals for rule-making will be based upon good science with ample opportunity and time for public review and comment, said Roberson.
“It will probably be several years before we have sufficient information to provide answers to questions agency leadership and stakeholders may ask regarding dove shot effectiveness,” Roberson said.

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