Dove season has kicked off in most states, but authorities in Texas are investigating several puzzling incidents of dove die-offs in west Texas.

From this story on

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating a series of active dove mortality events in and around the West Texas communities of Midland, Odessa and Big Spring. The cause has yet to be determined, but poisoning has not been ruled out. Dove samples have been submitted to the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisc., where initial necropsy findings revealed no conclusive cause of death, according to Dr. LeAnn White, a wildlife disease specialist. Additional disease screening and toxicology test results are pending.

Although there are no known human or animal risks associated with the mortality events at this time, White recommends precautions. One Midland resident reported his dog died shortly after consuming several dead doves, but no autopsy was performed and cause of death was not determined. Conversely, several residents have reported dogs and cats consuming dead doves with no ill effects.

According to the story, dead doves and sparrows were first reported in July, and the number so far is believed to be less than 250, but with dove season underway authorities are cautioning area hunters to be vigilant

From the story: “Our biggest concern right now is the timing of these events heading into the opening day of dove hunting season this Saturday,” said Clayton Wolf, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Wildlife Division Director. “We want hunters to be aware of this, but until we know the cause of death, there’s not much we can tell those hunters other than to use the standard common sense precautions that should be applied to the harvest of all game animals.”Hunters should avoid shooting at birds exhibiting odd behavior or picking up birds not shot by them or someone in their hunting group. Hunters should never consume any game that appears infected or diseased. All dove killed still count toward a hunter’s bag limit. However, dove that appear infected or diseased are not required to be retained or kept in edible condition.

Thoughts? Has anyone encountered any unexplained dove deaths in their area?