By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
Anyone traveling from state to state will have noticed signs warning people about “invasive species”. Most of these are referring to plants and weeds, but ask anyone from Florida about pythons and iguanas. Now there is another feathered species that is spreading faster than wildfire or even fire ants.
The invasive is the Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) most often simply called the Collared Dove, also sometimes hyphenated, as Eurasian Collared-dove is a species of dove native to Asia and Europe, and also recently introduced in North America.
It is closely related to the Island Collared Dove of Southeast Asia and the African Collared Dove of sub-Saharan Africa, forming a super species with these. Identification from African Collared Dove is very difficult with silent birds, with the African species being marginally smaller and paler, but the calls are very distinct, a soft purring in African Collared Dove quite unlike the Eurasian Collared Dove’s cooing.
The Collared Dove is not migratory, but has spread rapidly. Over the last century, it has been one of the great colonizers of the bird world. During the 20th century it expanded across Europe, appearing in the Balkans between 1900–1920, and then spreading rapidly northwest, reaching Germany in 1945, Great Britain by 1953, Ireland in 1959, and the Faroe Islands in the 1970s.
Later, the spread was ‘sideways’ from this fast northwest spread, reaching northeast to north of the Arctic Circle in Norway and east to the Ural Mountains in Russia, and southwest to the Canary Islands and northern Africa from Morocco to Egypt, by the end of the 20th century. From there, it was Egypt and China and now the U.S. in Florida in 1982. It has now become invasive with its the stronghold in North America in the Gulf Coast, but it is now found as far south as Veracruz, as far west as California, and as far north as Alaska.
Collared Doves typically breed close to human habitation wherever food resources are abundant and there are trees for nesting; almost all nests are within close proximity of inhabited buildings.
In many states, Texas and Idaho for certain, there is no closed season and no limit. All that is needed is a current hunting license and your trusty shotgun. Hunters need to check with their state fish and game agencies for specific regulations.
In Texas, the Eurasian Collared dove has been documented in 134 of the 254 Counties in the State, including Dallam, Deaf Smith, Hansford, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Sherman, and Swisher counties. Currently, regulations concerning the Eurasian Collared dove are the same as for feral pigeons or Rock Doves. A hunting license is required, but there is no closed season or bag limit; however, local restrictions concerning discharge of a firearm do apply.
In Idaho, the regulations for dove conclude by saying, “Eurasian-collared doves will not count as part of your aggregate bag of mourning doves as long as they are identifiable. Eurasian-collared doves may be taken in any amounts and at any time by holders of the appropriate valid Idaho hunting or combination hunting license, provided such taking is not in violation of state, county, or city laws, ordinances or regulations.
So if you get hungry for some grilled dove when the regular dove season is closed, pay close attention and try and invasive species wrapped in bacon.