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Past Environmental Action

Detroit Audubon’s History of Protecting Birds and their Habitats


Mourning Doves 2004-2006

Detroit Audubon Society has strongly supported Michigan’s protection of the Mourning Dove as a songbird since its inception. The ban started in 1905 and Detroit Audubon Society was formed in 1939 so the ban predates the society. There have been several attempts to legalize the hunting of Mourning Doves over the years. Detroit Audubon has been in the forefront of efforts to counter those moves each time one comes up. Each time we were successful.

The last time a bill was introduced to legalize hunting of doves in 2004 Detroit Audubon president Jim Bull testified at hearings urging the bills be defeated. In the summer of 2004 the bill passed both houses of the legislature. We were still hopeful that Governor Granholm would make good on her promise to veto any such legislation. Instead she signed it relying on a so-called compromise that the anti-dove hunting groups did not approve. That informal agreement was to set up a trial hunt for three years West of US 23 and south of I-94. That September Michigan held a dove hunt.

Detroit Audubon along with Michigan Audubon, the Michigan Humane Society, Humane Society U.S. and several other groups including hunters formed the Committee to Restore the Dove Hunting Ban and began collecting signatures to put the new dove hunting legislation to a popular vote. In the Spring of 2005 Detroit Audubon president Jim Bull helped deliver 14 boxes of petitions representing 275,000 signatures to the board of canvassers. That is 73% more than the 159,000 signatures required. Detroit Audubon member Joe Bartell was given an award for being one of the people in the state that gathered the most signatures on the petition. On June 2 the board of canvassers certified the petitions. That put the bill and the hunt on hold until after the November 2006 election. The people would get to decide the dove hunting issue.

The committee changed its name to the Committee to Keep Doves Protected, then began its work to defeat the dove hunt (a “No” vote was for continuing protection of the doves). Again Detroit Audubon was one of the leaders of this effort. In November 2006 the proposal to keep the dove hunt was defeated by more than 1.3 million votes. 69% of the voters sided with protecting the doves. We still must be vigilant. The forces that wanted a dove hunt will probably try again sometime, but probably not for some time after such a stinging defeat. We now know clearly where the people of Michigan stand on this issue.

Detroit International Wildlife Refuge and Humbug Marsh 1997-Present

Detroit Audubon Society was a leader in the campaign to save Humbug Marsh, which is now the centerpiece, the “gem” of the refuge. We were part of the international consortium that produced a vision for the Lower Detroit River, which included an International Wildlife Refuge (building on the idea proposed by Peter Stroh and Rep. John Dingell). We worked hard to get the refuge established and have been a partner with the refuge from its inception. We helped organize the grand opening of Humbug Marsh including leading the first public hike into that natural area.


Protecting Point Rosa Marsh, 1995

Detroit Audubon partnered with the friends of Point Rosa Marsh and the Clinton-Huron Environmental Coalition (CHEC) to oppose and defeat a planned major expansion of boat launching facilities at Metro Beach Park in Harrison Township. This DNR sponsored project would have severely damaged Point Rosa Marsh, the last remaining coastal wetland on the U.S side of Lake St. Clair. 1995-1997.

Instrumental in Getting DDT Banned, 1960

Our late President Walter P. Nickell, ornithologist at Cranbrook Institute of Science provided data on birds killed by DDT to Rachel Carson for use in her book, Silent Spring.

Bottle Bill, 1975

Dave Dempsey in his book Ruin & Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader credits Detroit Audubon as one of the four organizations which were principal leaders in the petition drive to put the measure on the ballot and then get it passed.

Detroit Incinerator

Detroit Audubon Society and the Sierra Club were the two principal litigants who filed suit against the plant.  The suit went on for several years.  The plant was not stopped but we did win important concessions that made it a cleaner operation.

Tuna Boycott

Now most tuna sports the “dolphin-safe label.”  Because the large “incidental” kill of dolphins with the purse seine nets in use at that time, Detroit Audubon was one of the first organizations in the nation, and maybe THE first to launch a tuna boycott.  Cars around Michigan and around the country sported our Boycott Tuna bumper stickers.

Offered Rewards

for Information leading the conviction of anybody who shoots hawks or owls and produced posters that placed in public places which had pen and ink drawings of a hawk and an owl with the title, HAWKS AND OWLS PROTECTED IN MICHIGAN.  The reward was offered at the bottom of the poster with a phone number to call.