Dove Hunters Cause Spike in Gunshot Reports for Galveston Police

If you're visiting Galveston Island this fall and happen to hear a barrage of gunfire (usually followed by a barrage of expletives) don't worry, it's just the dove hunters...

From this story in the Houston Chronicle:
_Galveston police respond to calls about gunfire every fall. The blasts may conjure fears of drive-by shootings, gang wars or other mayhem, but when police arrive they usually find dove hunters. The calls usually come from recent arrivals to Galveston who are surprised to learn that hunting is allowed within the city limits. Long-time residents are used to hearing shotgun blasts in the early morning and the evening, the best times for hunting dove. Police say they normally get a few calls at the beginning of dove season, which this year runs Sept. 17 to Oct. 31 and Dec. 25 to Jan 18.

_"That was opening weekend, and it sounded like artillery was going off," said Rolf Martinsen, 63, who lives in the Indian Beach subdivision on the west end of Galveston Island. Galveston is one of several Texas cities that allow hunting within city limits, including nearby Hitchcock. Texas Parks and Wildlife doesn't keep track of them, but there are cities scattered throughout the state that allow some type of hunting, said Lt. Col. Craig Hunter, deputy law enforcement director for the agency. Galveston doesn't specifically regulate hunting, but a 2003 ordinance allows the discharge of a shotgun west of 99th Street as long as it uses birdshot and is more than 500 feet from a building. Birdshot consists of scores of tiny pellets packed into a shotgun shell. The pellets are small, lose velocity quicker than large pellets and won't penetrate most solid objects, but are powerful enough to kill birds.

On the mainland in nearby Hitchcock, the city bans the firing of everything from a BB gun to a rifle within city limits but makes an exception for shotguns using birdshot more than 100 yards from a business, house or street. The laws contrast sharply with Houston, which has specifically prohibited the hunting of wild birds within city limits since 1969, City Attorney David Feldman said._