A State appeals court overturned an injunction blocking the State's first dove hunting season. The lower court's injunction resulted from a lawsuit filed by animal rights activists. __________________________________________________ http://www.jsonline.com/Outdoors/mar03/129537.asp Court ruling gives dove hunt new wings. Last Updated: March 30, 2003 After a long delay, it looks as if Wisconsin may finally get its first mourning dove hunt this September. An appeals court ruled last week that the Department of Natural Resources has the authority to allow a mourning dove hunt, overturning a lower court decision that prevented the hunt almost two years ago. "The appellate court decision means that, barring further court action, there will be a dove hunting season in Wisconsin this September," Keith Warnke, upland game ecologist with the Department of Natural Resources in Madison, told me. The Fourth Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 Thursday to overturn an injunction issued by Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser that halted the state's first mourning dove hunt that was set to begin in September of 2001. The injunction was sought by a group called Wisconsin Citizens Concerned for Cranes and Doves. A spokesman for the New London-based group said no decision has been made on whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Moeser had ruled that the definition of "game" in the state statutes that give the DNR authority to establish hunting seasons is ambiguous, and there was evidence that the Legislature did not intend for mourning doves to be considered game birds. But the appeals court ruled that, even though the statutes do not specifically list the mourning dove among game birds that can be hunted in Wisconsin, the DNR has authority to establish a hunt for them. Warnke called the appellate court's decision "the right decision for conservation in Wisconsin." "We believe that dove hunting will have no negative impact on the dove population in Wisconsin or nationally," Warnke said. Thirty-nine other states now have mourning dove hunts, he said. The dove hunt was never expected to be a big Wisconsin event in terms of participation. The DNR estimates that about 30,000 people will hunt doves during the 60-day season, now set to begin Sept. 1. That compares with about 60,500 cottontail rabbit hunters and 700,000 deer hunters. Yet the mourning dove hunt achieved a symbolic significance that is huge. The recent effort to establish the hunt began in 1997, when Jim Weix and Rob Kieckhefer organized a group called the Wisconsin Dove Hunters Association. In a phone interview from Stuart, Fla., where he moved in 2001, Weix explained that part of the reason for seeking the hunt, was to confront the anti-hunting movement in Wisconsin. "The whole idea behind this dove hunt was, not only to provide additional hunting opportunity, but to defeat the anti-hunting movement's only victory in Wisconsin," he said, referring to 1971, when animal rights activists successfully lobbied the Legislature to get the mourning dove removed from game bird classification and designated as the state symbol of peace. Even though Weix intended to take on the anti-hunters, he never dreamed that an anti-hunter would help make the mourning dove hunt the symbolic center of the fight for hunter's rights in Wisconsin. But that's exactly what happened in Spring of 2000. Spring Conservation Hearings, which are open to the public, are held by the DNR and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress each April in each county. Participants vote on proposed rule changes affecting hunting and fishing and elect delegates to the Conservation Congress, which advises the DNR. In 1999, Patricia Randolph and a group of animal rights advocates showed up at the Dane County hearing with a different agenda: They wanted to end hunting. Unaware of the anti-hunters, many hunters and anglers left the long meeting while the animal rights advocates remained and, as a result, Randolph became the first anti-hunter elected as a delegate to the Conservation Congress. Many in the sporting community viewed the event as a wake-up call. And, when the mourning dove hunt came up for a vote at the following year's Spring Hearings, it became a rallying point for both hunters and anti-hunters. Many viewed it as a virtual referendum on the future of hunting in the state. The result was record attendance at the 2000 Spring Hearings; an overwhelming victory for hunters, with a 21,067 to 6,036 vote in favor of the dove hunt; and the establishment of the state's first mourning dove hunt in September of 2001. That's why Moeser's injunction angered and frustrated so many hunters. And that's why the appellate court ruling is cause to celebrate. __________________________________________________ To all Wisconsin residents: Tomorrow, April 1st is an election day... be there. Two important statewide votes are needed tomorrow. A "yes" vote on the proposed constitutional amendment guarenteeing the right to hunt and fish, and a supreme court vacancy must be filled. Conservative Pat Roggensack is running against liberal Democrat, Brunner. Currently, the Supreme Court has 4 conservatives and 3 liberals. One of the most liberal members has announced retirement, creating the vacancy. A conservative's victory would give a 5-2 conservative (pro-gun) margin. This IS IMPORTANT! VOTE!!!!