Pennsylvania is one of 18 states in the Eastern Management Unit participating in an annual dove banding program, which is used to obtain data on reproduction, age ratios and to set seasons and bag limits. This year, 1,124 doves were banded in Pennsylvania, including close to 200 in the northeast region. Roughly 40,000 doves are banded in the entire EM.
Pennsylvania Game Commission biologist Lisa Williams pays close attention to the number of juveniles banded and how many of those are harvested each year.
“We harvest juveniles at twice the rate of adults,” she said. “The majority are taken in the September season.”
Last year, more than 1,000 doves were banded in 40 locations in the state. Twenty four bands were reported, and 21 one of those were harvested by hunters in September, two were killed by cats and one was found dead on a roadway.
Of the doves banded this summer, 589 were juveniles, 407 were adults and 128 were of unknown age. While doves do migrate, Williams said the majority of those harvested are taken in Pennsylvania. The banding program has turned up birds that migrated to North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
Most doves don’t live beyond three years of age, but the banding program has turned up a male that is at least seven years old in the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Based on estimates from the banding program, the dove population in the EMU has hovered between 92 and 94 million over each of the last three years.