It’s that time of the year again. Time for humans to prove their superiority to other animals by arming themselves with shotguns and blowing away harmless birds. Yes, Wednesday, September 1st marks the start of dove season in various states throughout the U.S.

It’s a bloody affair. According to the Chicago Tribune, “there are 475 million doves in North America, and about 40 million to 70 million are harvested by hunters each year.” (FYI: “harvested”=”killed”… don’t you just love euphemisms?) In California alone, an estimated 90,000 hunters take to the field annually to kill more than 1.5 million doves. That’s a lot of dead birds. That’s also a lot of shots being fired; the average hunter takes about nine shots per bird.

Why hunt doves? According the Humane Society of the United States, “Doves are not overpopulated, and hunting them doesn’t feed anyone or help manage wildlife.” Furthermore,  they “pose no threat to crops, homes or anything of value to people.”

In a reluctant effort to be fair, I do acknowledge that some hunters do indeed eat doves. Doves are excellent table fare, say Kansas wildlife officials, and “[w]rapped in bacon and grilled, they are sure to satisfy the most sensitive palate.” I find the use of the word “sensitive” to be darkly amusing, as there is nothing sensitive about eating dead birds and pigs. You can also make a meat pie out of doves. If you’re interested, you’ll need 10. Just ten dead doves for a savory meat pie! No thanks … I’ll stick to black bean pie. Only needs one can of beans and no killing required.

In all seriousness, the appeal of shooting doves escapes me (as do all forms of hunting, really). A better, more humane way to appreciate these birds would be with open eyes and open ears. Eyes to appreciate their beauty, ears to appreciate their lovely songs. After all, doves are a symbol of peace. Why must we wage war on them?

Photo Credit: Public Domain