Is It Illegal To Kill Pigeons In Delaware [Yes But How] 

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The city is the perfect place to live from a pigeon’s point of view. Hunting pigeons might sound inhumane. But it has become a necessity due to their increasing population. So, is it illegal to kill pigeons in Delaware? 

Yes. It is illegal to harm wildlife in Delaware unless they are a nuisance. So, you can remove or kill Feral pigeons from your house as long as you possess a hunting license. But harming migratory pigeons is illegal. One can only hunt them during small games.  

Small games take place once a year for hunters to enjoy shooting birds. Continue reading to learn about the rules and regulations to kill or hunt pigeons.

Which Type Of Pigeons Are Illegal To Hunt And Eat In Delaware?

It is legal to hunt and eat all pigeon species in Delaware. You can shoot as many pigeons as you want all year except Mourning doves. Mourning doves are slender, small-headed birds.  

It is tan or greyish brown, with black spots on the wings. The size is 9 to 13 inches, and the wing span can increase to 15 to 18 inches. You can also identify the Mourning dove from the dark spot under its eyes. 

Mourning dove hunting is legal only during small games. It takes place once a year with a limited number of days. The Mourning dove hunting season dates; are September 1 to October 3 and November 21 to January 31. There is also a bag limit count of 15 birds per day.  

Pigeon eating is legal. There is no rule that defines pigeon eating as illegal within the state. So, you can enjoy the pigeon harvested from hunting. But, it is said to avoid eating Feral pigeons. 

Why Is It Illegal To Hunt And Eat Pigeon In Delaware?

It is illegal to hunt Mourning doves unless it is a hunting festival. Mourning doves are migratory birds. The birds that travel for kilometers in search of better ecological conditions, food, and shelter to take care of their young are called Migratory birds. Mourning doves are migratory birds.  

So, they are part of the MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act). The act was passed in 1918, and four countries are part of it, including the USA. As per this act, it is illegal to harm, kill, trade, or transport migratory birds without a permit. So, you cannot kill Mourning doves at any time unless it is the Small games.

The Delaware wildlife authorities allow Mourning dove hunting for a limited time with harvest and possession limits. Taking more birds than the limit is a felony. Eating pigeons or doves is legal. But it is not recommended to eat Feral pigeon meat as they carry and transmits bacteria. 

Laws Governing About Pigeon Shooting In Delaware state 

Pigeon hunting is in practice for years. But shooting the birds has caused many safety risks in the past. The hunting laws ensure safe hunting and minimize the risk of property damage.

The rules are very similar in the entire USA. But, there is a slight difference depending on the pigeon species and other factors. A few of the pigeon-hunting laws are below. 

Hunting Education Course 

As per Section 501, Title 7, Delaware Code, hunters born after January 1, 1976, must complete a Hunting Education Course to obtain a Delaware Hunting license or Youth hunting license.

The Hunting Course is free of charge, and it is open to everyone. But young people under ten will not be awarded a certificate till they turn ten. Young people under 12 must be under the supervision of an adult hunter throughout the classes.  

The course has significantly reduced the number of hunting-related accidents. So, now hunters have at least a month of practice before shooting wildlife. It teaches the proper handling of weapons, wildlife management, and outdoor safety. 

Hunting License  

There are several types of hunting licenses depending on your residence and age. 

  • To purchase a resident hunting license, you must be living in Delaware for at least one year. You may not be the residence of two different U.S. States. You might own homes in two or more states, but you can only claim residency in one U.S. State at a time. 
  • There is a separate youth hunting license for people under 16. The Junior Hunting License expires on the child’s 16th birthday. But, young hunters under the age of 16 must be under the supervision of an adult (18 years or older) to carry a weapon, firearm, or bow.   


Migratory Pigeons   

It is unlawful to hunt Migratory pigeons off-season. The migratory pigeons in the state are protected under MBTA (Migratory Bird Treaty Act). So, you cannot take down Mourning doves unless it is hunting season. Also, there is a daily bag limit of 15, and the possession limit is 45. 

You can only use shotguns to shoot pigeons in Delaware. The use of air rifles to take down mourning doves is strictly forbidden. Shotguns should be no longer than ten Gauge.

It must not hold more than three pallets. So, if the gun has three pallets and can hold more is not allowed on the field. Hunters can also use bows and arrows to hunt pigeons. 

Shooting Timings   

The hunting hours begin thirty minutes before sunrise in Delaware. So, it ends thirty minutes after the sun sets. The federal authorities do not permit hunting on Sundays. It is also unlawful to shoot pigeons within 500 meters of worship places. 

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Pigeons In Delaware State? 

Pigeon hunting and shooting are not difficult when you are through with all the laws. Hunters must know rules like the protected pigeons and the bag count of Migratory pigeons. The pointers below will guide you through all steps. 

  • Purchase a hunting license online or through a wildlife agent. You must carry a hunting license on the field. It can be on an e-device or in print. 
  • Check the dates for Migratory pigeon hunting on the website or local newspaper. 
  • Purchase a legal weapon to shoot pigeons. You can only use a shotgun or bow and arrow in Delaware.   
  • To hunt in a public place, get your slot by registering online.  
  • To hunt on private property, obtain a permit from the landowner. Keep the hunting permit with you while you are on the field, or it will be considered trespassing.   
  • Bring all the safety gear to the hunting field. It is better to wear bright clothing like dark pink or orange. So authorities can recognize you as a hunter from a distance.    
  • Hunters cannot use decoys, food, or electronic or mechanical call for Migratory pigeons. But all of these can be used for hunting Feral pigeons.   
  • Do not hunt more doves than the daily bag limit else you will face the charges.    
  • After hunting pigeons, tag each harvest. Then properly store or discard them.   
  • Sumit bag count and possession limit daily on the Delaware website during the hunting festival.   

Summing Up

In Delaware, it is legal to take down pigeons. The pigeon species in the state are Rock pigeons and Mourning doves. The former pigeon species is unprotected. So one can shoot them down at any time. But the latter is a Migratory bird. The authorities forbid killing or harming such pigeons.   

To hunt Mourning doves, hunters must wait for the yearly hunting festival. The hunting season of the Mourning doves is limited to only a few days. It begins in September and ends in January. There are no decoy rules for hunting doves. Plus, there is a daily bag count of 15 and a possession limit of 45.