Spent-shot availability and ingestion on areas managed for mourning doves

John H. Schulz, Joshua J. Millspaugh, Brian E. Washburn, Gary R. Wester, James T. Lanigan, J. Christian Franson

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34 Scopus citations


Mourning dove (Zenaida macroura) hunting is becoming increasingly popular, especially in managed shooting fields. Given the possible increase in the availability of lead (Pb) shot on these areas, our objective was to estimate availability and ingestion of spent shot at the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area (EBCA, hunted with nontoxic shot) and the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area (JARWA, hunted with Pb shot) in Missouri. During 1998, we collected soil samples one or 2 weeks prior to the hunting season (prehunt) and after 4 days of dove hunting (posthunt). We also collected information on number of doves harvested, number of shots fired, shotgun gauge, and shotshell size used. Dove carcasses were collected on both areas during 1998-99. At EBCA, 60 hunters deposited an estimated 64,775 pellets/ha of nontoxic shot on or around the managed field. At JARWA, approximately 1,086,275 pellets/ha of Pb shot were deposited by 728 hunters. Our posthunt estimates of spent-shot availability from soil sampling were 0 pellets/ha for EBCA and 6,342 pellets/ha for JARWA. Our findings suggest that existing soil sampling protocols may not provide accurate estimates of spent-shot availability in managed dove shooting fields. During 1998-99, 15 of 310 (4.8%) mourning doves collected from EBCA had ingested nontoxic shot. Of those doves, 6 (40.0%) contained ≥7 shot pellets. In comparison, only 2 of 574 (0.3%) doves collected from JARWA had ingested Pb shot. Because a greater proportion of doves ingested multiple steel pellets compared to Pb pellets, we suggest that doves feeding in fields hunted with Pb shot may succumb to acute Pb toxicosis and thus become unavailable to harvest, resulting in an underestimate of ingestion rates. Although further research is needed to test this hypothesis, our findings may partially explain why previous studies have shown few doves with ingested Pb shot despite their feeding on areas with high Pb shot availability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalWildlife Society Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Lead
  • Missouri
  • Mourning doves
  • Nontoxic shot
  • Pb
  • Spent shot
  • Zenaida macroura


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