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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Shooting the Bird of Peace into Pieces

Woodrow Wilson was in the White House. The Spanish flu pandemic swept the globe. World War I was just ending. A lot has happened since 1918, but one thing has stayed the same for these 93 years: Mourning doves have been protected in Iowa. Sadly, that may change this fall, under a new bill fast-tracked through the capitol this week, with hardly a word of debate. It’s one of the most cynical and underhanded maneuvers of political gamesmanship that I have seen in any state legislature.

After years of trying to open a new dove hunting season and being beaten back in the legislature, the champions of shooting doves, led by Sen. Dick Dearden, D-Des Moines, held their fire this year. Dearden introduced a dove hunting bill on the day before the deadline for legislation to pass subcommittee and stay alive for the year. Dearden is the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and he apparently rushed it through without even consulting some fellow committee members. 

Dove On Tuesday of this week, the bill was brought to the Senate floor and approved by a vote of 30-18. It was sent to the House the very next day without any committee consideration or serious vetting of the issues (an unrelated bill on raccoon hunting was stripped completely and the mourning dove language was substituted in its place). The House approved the bill on Wednesday by a vote of 58-39, and it now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad for his signature.  This is lawmaking at warp speed, with the bill pushed ahead so fast and with the obvious intention of diminishing debate and denying citizen input to an extreme extent. It is the antithesis of deliberative democracy.

We are grateful to Reps. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, and Charles Isenhart, D-Dubuque, for speaking out against the bill on the House floor, and for offering amendments to the legislation—such as prohibiting the hunting of mourning doves over bait and near residences and with toxic lead shot—which were unfortunately defeated. As Rep. Mascher told the Des Moines Register, “The whole idea was to get it through the Senate and to get it through the House as quickly as possible so the public could not weigh in. That’s unfortunate. That is really unfortunate because some of us in this chamber value that process.”

It’s not only the democratic process that will suffer if dove hunting begins this fall for the first time in nearly a century. Hundreds of thousands of birds will be shot for target practice, many of them wounded and left unretrieved to suffer and die from their injuries; doves have such a small amount of meat on their tiny bodies, especially after being riddled with lead shot, that many hunters don’t even bother to collect them. If hunting begins in September, as it does in most other states, doves will be nesting and their orphaned young will be left to starve to death.

All for what purpose? Doves are not overpopulated, and there is no management rationale. They do not cause car accidents, knock over trash cans, or come into conflict with people. In fact, doves are known as the “farmer’s friend” because they eat weed seeds on the ground, acting as a natural herbicide. The best argument Dearden and his allies could muster is that other states shoot doves, so Iowa should shoot them too, in an “all your friends jumped off a bridge” race to the bottom of policymaking.

The last time a Midwestern state considered dove hunting was in 2006, when Michigan voters were asked to approve a new dove hunting season after a century of dove protection. Voters heard the arguments on both sides, including a major campaign from the NRA and other dove hunting proponents, and overwhelmingly rejected Proposal 3, a statewide referendum which would have allowed dove hunting, by a landslide vote of 69% to 31%. Michigan is one of the biggest hunting states in the country, but voters rejected dove hunting in each of the 83 counties in the state, from the most urban to the most rural. Iowa does not allow the referendum process, but the results would likely be the same, as a statewide poll conducted just this week concluded that Iowa voters oppose dove hunting by a more than two-to-one margin.

Since Iowa voters won’t have their say on the issue, the decision rests with Gov. Branstad, who has already publicly stated that he plans to sign the dove hunting bill. It’s time for him to hear from concerned citizens who oppose dove hunting and it’s time for him to listen to the people of Iowa. Please call him today at 515.281.5211 and ask him to veto S.F. 464. Let’s hope that he changes his mind on the issue and musters the same political fortitude that then-Gov. Tom Vilsack (now U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) exhibited in 2001 the last time a dove hunting bill made it to the Iowa governor’s mansion.

If you live in Iowa, it’s important to know how your own elected officials voted this week on the dove hunting bill. (Click here to find the names of your state legislators.) If they voted yes, please let them know how disappointed you are that they caved in to special interests and went along with this farcical process. If they voted no on dove hunting, please let them know how grateful you are that they stood up for Iowa citizens and the gentle bird of peace.

Senators Voting "Yes" on Dove Hunting:

Bill Anderson 712.898.2505
Robert Bacon 515.387.8969
Merlin Bartz 641.748.2724
Jerry Behn 515.432.7327
Rick Bertrand 712.253.7096
Dennis Black 641.975.8608 
Nancy Boettger 712.744.3290
Tod Bowman 563.652.5499
Mark Chelgren  641.777.7047
Thomas Courtney  319.759.5334
Dick Dearden 515.262.1203
Bill Dix 319.885.6790
Joni Ernst 712.621.4931 
Randy Feenstra 712.439.1244
Gene Fraise 319.528.6176
Michael Gronstal 712.328.2808
James Hahn 563.263.1208
Shawn Hamerlinck 563.843.3922
Hubert Houser 712.486.2597
David Johnson 712.758.3280
Steve Kettering 712.657.3347
John P. (Jack) Kibbie 712.852.4140
Paul McKinley 641.774.5784
Amanda Ragan 641.424.0874
Tom Rielly 641.673.5878
Roby Smith 563.386.0179
Steven Sodders 641.483.2383
Kent Sorenson 515.962.2192
Jack Whitver 515.865.6394
Mary Jo Wilhelm 563.547.4156

Senators Voting "No" on Dove Hunting:

Daryl Beall 515.573.7889
Joe Bolkcom 319.337.6280
Swati Dandekar 319.377.2087
Jeff Danielson 319.231.7192
William Dotzler 319.296.2947
Robert Dvorsky 319.351.0988
Sandra Greiner 641.636.2293
Tom Hancock 563.876.3219
Jack Hatch 515.243.4675
Robert Hogg 319.538.2247
Wally Horn 319.396.3131
Pam Jochum 563.556.6530
Tim Kapucian 319.442.5337
Matthew McCoy 515.274.0561
Herman Quirmbach 515.292.8984
Brian Schoenjahn 563.633.4065
Joe Seng 563.391.1627
Brad Zaun 515.276.2025

(Absent: James Seymour and Pat Ward)

Representatives Voting "Yes" on Dove Hunting:

Dwayne Alons 712.439.2479
Richard Anderson 515.281.3221 
Richard Arnold 641.535.6313
Clel Baudler 641.743.6327
Josh Byrnes 515.281.3221
Royd Chambers 712.324.2694
Dennis Cohoon 319.752.5057
Peter Cownie 515.281.3221
Betty De Boef 515.281.3221
Dave Deyoe 515.382.2352
Cecil Dolecheck 515.281.3221
Jack Drake 712.778.2538
Greg Forristall 712.486.2271
Joel Fry 515.281.3221
Julian Garrett 515.281.3221
Pat Grassley 319.983.9019
Chris Hagenow 515.274.1652
Bob Hager 515.281.3221
Chris Hall 515.281.3221
Erik Helland 515.986.1030
Lance Horbach 641.484.2348
Daniel Huseman 712.434.5880
Stewart Iverson 515.281.3221
Ron Jorgensen 515.281.3221
Jeff Kaufmann 515.281.3221 
Jerry Kearns 319.524.1570
Kevin Koester 515.963.9996
Steven Lukan 563.921.3725
Jim Lykam 563.391.1919
Glen Massie 515.281.3221
Kevin McCarthy 515.281.3054
Linda Miller 563.449.9956
Brian Moore 563.528.0837
Dan Muhlbauer 712.653.2838 
Rick Olson 515.265.8877
Steven Olson 563.659.9096
Kraig Paulsen 319.294.2062
Ross Paustian 563.320.2874
Kim Pearson 515.224.2126
Brian Quirk 641.394.4550
Dan Rasmussen 319.334.6138
Henry Rayhons 641.923.2979
Walt Rogers 319.277.5587
Kirsten Running-Marquardt 319.892.3008
Thomas Sands 319.729.2280
Jason Schultz 712.676.2109
Tom Shaw 712.841.7691
Jeff Smith 712.337.4243
Chuck Soderberg 712.546.6136
Annette Sweeney 515.855.4340
Jeremy Taylor 712.277.0898
Linda Upmeyer 641.923.3398
Guy Vander Linden 317.796.0979
Nick Wagner 319.447.4870
Ralph Watts 515.993.4850
Matt Windschitl 712.642.4334
Mary Wolfe 563.243.4652
Gary Worthan 712.732.6340

Representatives Voting "No" on Dove Hunting:

Ako Abdul-Samad 515.244.4003, ext. 16
Chip Baltimore 515.281.3221
Deborah Berry 319.233.9934
Ruth Ann Gaines 515.281.3221
Mary Gaskill 641.682.6417
Curtis Hanson 515.281.3221
Mary Ann Hanusa 515.281.3221
David Heaton 319.385.9342
Lisa Heddens 515.292.1748
Lee Hein 515.281.3221
Bruce Hunter 515.256.8010
Charles Isenhart 563.557.1261
Dave Jacoby 319.358.8538
Anesa Kajtazovic 515.281.3221
Dan Kelley 515.281.3221
Jarad Klein 515.281.3221
Bob Kressig 319.266.9021
Vicki Lensing 319.338.6148
Mark Lofgren 563.272.8683
Mary Mascher 319.351.2826
Helen Miller 515.573.4901
Jo Oldson 515.255.2805
Tyler Olson 319.535.0635
Janet Petersen 515.279.9063
Dawn Pettengill 319.610.3412
Scott Raecker 515.276.5987
Renee Schulte 319.431.6150
Mark Smith 641.750.9278
Sharon Steckman 641.424.9362
Todd Taylor 319.396.8587
Phyllis Thede 563.441.0630
Roger Thomas 563.245.1084
David Tjepkes 515.352.3573
James Van Engelenhoven 641.628.1675
Andrew Wenthe 563.427.4831
Beth Wessel-Kroeschell 515.292.2904
Nathan Willems 319.455.3014 
Cindy Winckler 563.324.7927
John Wittneben 712.362.4797

(Absent or not voting: Mark Brandenburg, Patrick Murphy and Kurt Swaim)

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