Field & Stream Online Editors

After a decision to let Michigan hunters take aim on doves, Gov. Jennifer Granholm found herself under a barrage of fire from enraged animal rights advocates.

Friday, Granholm signed a bill to remove a 99-year ban on dove hunting by allowing the National Resources Commission to schedule a dove season in six counties, the Detroit Free Press reported. After a three-year pilot program, the NRC will decide whether or not to expand the season statewide.

The bill’s approval came as a victory to area hunters and sportsman who have been pushing for a dove season on and off for the past 20 years. Rep. Susan Tabor, R-Delta Township, said the governor’s decision marked a step in the right direction. “I would have liked to see a statewide hunting season as soon as possible,” she told the Free Press. “But this is a good start.”

The response for the bill hasn’t been all praise, however, as the lift on the ban has angered some animal protection advocates. They say that Granholm went back on a promise she made during her 2002 gubernatorial campaign to veto a dove hunting bill.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, said he felt “disgusted” by Granholm’s decision and has no doubt that the NRC will expand the hunting season across the state after three years. “This is simply a two-step process for statewide dove hunting,” he said. “Literally millions of birds will suffer and die as a consequence of her signing this bill.”

A spokeswoman for Granholm said the governor stayed true to her pledge because the bill still prohibits dove hunting in 90 percent of the state: “This is a conservative, reasonable approach to a long-standing, long-debated issue in Michigan.”