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Monday, January 25 • 3:40pm - 4:00pm
National Mourning Dove Hunter Attitudes and Opinions on Lead (Pb) Poisoning

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AUTHORS: Christopher T. Rota, University of Missouri; John H. Schulz*, University of Missouri; Ronald A. Reitz, Missouri Department of Conservation; Joshua J. Millspaugh, University of Missouri; Kenneth D. Richkus, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; William F. Harvey IV, Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Shaun L. Oldenburger, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Michael J. Rabe, Arizona Game and Fish Department

ABSTRACT: Ingested lead (Pb) pellets are lethal to mourning doves Zenaida macroura, and decisions regarding the future use of Pb shotshells will require input from multiple stakeholders. To help inform these decisions, we assessed awareness of dove hunters about the impacts of Pb poisoning on mourning doves and dove hunting, and their attitudes toward possible regulatory actions. We developed a 74 item questionnaire to determine attitudes and characteristics of migratory bird hunters in 39 of 40 states with mourning dove hunting seasons, and mailed the questionnaire to approximately 32,000 dove hunters. We developed questions to address hunter awareness of the impacts of Pb shot on mourning doves and hunter attitudes about possible policy actions. Approximately 58% of hunters agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that any exposure to Pb makes practically no population effect to mourning dove populations due to the birds’ short lifespan, and only 9% of all hunters agreed with requiring the use of non–Pb shot for dove hunting. Agreement with the need for a regulation was not associated with the cost of non–Pb shot or the amount of money spent annually on shot shells. Managers and policy makers wanting to communicate effectively with hunters need to consider that many dove hunters view the nontoxic-shot waterfowl regulation as unnecessary, say they would likely reduce the number of dove hunting trips if non–Pb shot was required, use ≥10 boxes of ammunition per season, harvest >10 doves per season, believe the cost of shells is less of a problem, believe non–Pb shot is more likely to cripple doves, and believe it will be hard to find alternatives to Pb shot in local stores. Despite economic and scientific evidence, hunters continue to hold beliefs contrary to existing information. State agencies, however, are well positioned to play a pivotal role in addressing the issue.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:40pm - 4:00pm EST