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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Warns of Baited Fields


August 29, 2002

Gary Phillips,
Jim Rothschild,


With the September opening of dove season, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division are reminding sportsmen to check their hunting area to make sure it is not baited. It is the responsibility of every hunter to be certain that he/she is not hunting over a baited area and violating the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The key to determining whether or not a field is legal to hunt is to ensure that legitimate agricultural practices, as recommended by the State Cooperative Extension System, have been employed. If a crop has been planted or harvested in a recommended manner, it is legal to hunt. However, if grain has been placed on the ground in piles or strips, is inconsistently distributed, or placed for the purpose of attracting doves, this is not a normal agricultural practice and would be considered bait.

Wheat is sown at this time of the year in Alabama as a standard agricultural practice and fields of freshly sown wheat offer excellent hunting opportunity. However, the hunter must be certain that the field has not been "multiple sown" which is not a recommended method of planting. If the hunter sees that wheat has already sprouted consistently on the field and hard grains of wheat are also distributed on top of the ground, it is evidence that the field has been sown more than one time. The hunter should depart such fields immediately.

Federal and state regulations also permit the taking of doves over wildlife food plots provided they are planted in accordance with official recommendations of the Cooperative Extension System or in a manner consistent with official recommendations for production of a crop (e.g. one-time sowing of viable seed at recommended application rates and dates on a prepared seed bed). Mature wildlife flood plots may also be manipulated for the purpose of attracting and hunting doves. However, the distribution of additional grain, such as wheat or sunflower, to a standing or manipulated food plot would be considered baiting.

Penalties for a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act include a fine up to $15,000 and 6 months imprisonment. The penalty for placing or directing the placement of bait, or allowing any person to take or attempt to take doves over a baited area includes up to one year imprisonment.

Hunters are encouraged to visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, and the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries website, for more specific information on legal methods by which doves may be taken. Upon request, a copy of information contained in these websites can be obtained by contacting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Law Enforcement, office in Millbrook, AL at (334) 285-9600. If a hunter has any doubt that a field may be baited, the best thing to do is leave the area and contact your closest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent or an Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Conservation Division Officer.

Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region website at

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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