Beginning in 2009-2010, Indiana hunters who wish to pursue mourning dove must purchase a game bird habitat stamp.
Mourning doves are the most abundant game bird in the world and the most popular game bird in Indiana. Each year, roughly 35,000 hunters pursue mourning dove in Indiana. It is estimated that over one-third of all doves harvested in Indiana are taken from DNR-owned properties.
When the game bird stamp was developed, doves could not be hunted in Indiana. Had dove hunting been legal at the time the game bird stamp was developed, doves would have been included on the list of species requiring the stamp.
This year, the DNR took advantage of the opportunity to bring doves under the game bird stamp provision. Money collected from the sales of game bird stamps is used to purchase and manage land on which the public can hunt pheasants, quail, turkeys, grouse and doves.
“Habitat development has been traditionally focused on eradicating fescue, establishing native grasses, developing firebreaks, planting food plots, enrolling Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in strategic locations, conducting prescribed burns, strip disking, and strip spraying,” said Mitch Marcus, DNR wildlife staff specialist.
Of the money collected from the sale of game bird habitat stamps, 75 percent is used to acquire game bird habitat, including development on fish and wildlife areas and other public land, while the remaining 25 percent is used to fund game bird habitat developments on privately owned land throughout the state. On the average, $130,000 is used each year to develop approximately 2,600 acres of game bird habitat on private lands.
“Private land is used in targeted areas around the state to augment existing game bird habitats and increase the chances of local game bird populations finding suitable nesting, brood-rearing and escape cover as broods expand into surrounding areas,” said Gary Langell, DNR private lands program manager.
Funds collected from the sale of the game bird habitat stamp provide landowners standardized habitat development/management payments and one-time incentive payments for enrolling lands in the CRP and for voluntarily enrolling existing CRP lands into mid-contract management activities designed to increase habitat quality for game birds.