Is It Illegal To Kill Pigeons In Maryland [Yes, But Why]  

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Pigeons thrive in urban residential areas. They get plenty of food and shelter there. It’s hard to remove pigeons from such places. But you always have the option to kill them. So, is it illegal to kill pigeons in Maryland?  

Yes. It is illegal to kill pigeons in Maryland except for unprotected pigeons and game birds. As per state law, no one can harm, hunt, or destroy any wild bird. Hunters can shoot pigeons during small games. They can also get rid of the nuisance of Feral pigeons.   

Hunting pigeons is easy as long as you know the rules. This article will guide you on all the pigeon hunting and shooting rules.  

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

In Maryland, it is illegal to hunt Migratory pigeons off-season. The Migratory pigeons living in the state are the Mourning dove, White-winged dove, spotted dove, and ringed turtle dove. To hunt doves, one will have to wait for the Small game. Typically, small games begin on September 1st and end on December 26th.   

Mourning doves are small, slender doves. They are brown to buffy tan with brown dots. Plus, their tail feathers have white tips. White-winged doves are brown with a dark line on the cheek. They have a white strip on the wing, which appears darker when on flight. Their tail has white, brown, and grey stripes.  

Spotted doves have light brown bodies. But, darker back and wings. Their head is grey, and their neck is grey-brown with a hint of pink. You can clearly spot the white-tipped tail of the dove.   

Ring neck doves are soft fawn color. They have a distinct black ring around their neck. Their feet are pink, but their eyes and beaks are brown. You cannot hunt these pigeon species all year or without a permit. The state allows eating pigeon meat. You can harvest these doves in Small games and enjoy the feast. 

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

In Maryland, it is illegal to hunt Migratory pigeons and doves off-season. The USA signed a treaty called the Migratory bird treaty act in 1918. That treaty states that no one shall harm the migratory bird species. As per the law harming birds means killing, shooting, and trading without a permit.  

The state wildlife allows the hunting of such pigeons in small games. Dove hunting is split into seasons every year. The 2022 first season begins from October 1st to 15th, and the second is from October 22nd to November 25th. So, the last season is from December 15th to January 7th.  

Hunters can legally hunt doves during these days. However, there is a possession limit. The possession limit indicates the number of doves an individual can own. It is legal to eat the harvest to own more pigeons. 

Laws Governing About Pigeon Shooting In Maryland State 

The state authorities have set some rules to ensure safe and ethical hunting. All hunters need to abide by these rules to prevent crimes. Following are some important laws that you must know. 

Hunting Education Course 

Hunters in Maryland need to complete a Hunting education course. It is twelve to fourteen hours long and is divided into classes. Students must take all the classes to take the test at the end. The course teaches hunter responsibility and also ethics. It also includes weapon handling, bow hunting, and shooting laws.  

There is no age requirement for the course. But, hunters below 14 are to be under the supervision of an adult. In the end, hunters will have to pass a test. The test consists of 50 MCQs, and students must pass with an 80 percent grade. Most hunting course begins before gaming season. You can take classes in the summer and autumn. You can sign up for the course online or on the phone. 

Hunting License 

In Maryland, every hunter needs to have a hunting license. A hunting license is only valid for a year from August 1st to the next July. So, hunters will have to renew their hunting licenses each year. Carrying an expired license in the Small games is a crime. A hunting license can be in print or on an electronic device. However, the hunter must have it on the field.  

A hunting license depends on age, residency, and background. People above ten can shoot pigeons in the state. But, youth hunters from 10 to 17 must be under direct guidance from an adult. The adult accompanying the youth hunter must be above 21 and should have a hunting license. Additionally, there is a separate license for senior hunters. 

Migratory Birds 

Federal law protects the Migratory bird due to the treaty signed between the USA and foreign countries. The bird list in the treaty includes almost all the pigeons except Feral pigeons and Eurasian -collared doves.

So, the subset of these birds is known as migratory gaming birds. These pigeons are hunted under state law. So, you will have to check the website and newspapers for the open season. You can’t shoot game pigeons off-season or without permission. 

Daily Bag And Possession Limit. 

The daily bag limit means the number of pigeons one can hunt in a day. It is specific for each geographic location and zones. The daily bag limit can be separate for each specie or combined for all. In Maryland, the combined daily bag limit is 15. Hunters cannot hunt more than 15 doves per day. But, the daily possession limit for all species is 45. 

Private Property 

People can hunt on their property without any permit. However, the state requires hunters to have written permission to hunt on property they do not own. So, it is illegal to enter property without a permit. Hunters who are without a permit can be charged with trespassing. This rule exempts the landowner’s spouse, children, and tenants. 

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Pigeons In Maryland state? 

Shooting and hunting pigeons are easy when you follow the law. State regulation has already defined pigeon shooting and hunting laws. Before going on the hunt, read all the rules and plan accordingly. Following are some pointers to assist you on the next hunting trip.  

  • Carry your hunting license and permit on the field. The hunting license can be in print or on a soft copy.  
  • Purchase a permit when you are planning to hunt private land.  
  • Hunting hours begin a half hour before sunrise and end a half an hour after sunset.  
  • The legal weapon to shoot pigeons is a Shotgun. The shotgun must be no longer than ten gauges. It must not hold more than three pallets.  
  • To hunt Migratory pigeons’ register online to get a permit.  
  • Hunters must have first aid boxes and safety gloves and also goggles with them. 
  • Wear a blaze pink or orange vest, cap, and backpack on the field.  
  • After harvesting, separate pigeons in each bag according to the species.  
  • Submit each specie count to the wildlife authorities. 


It is illegal to harm any wildlife birds in Maryland. The state protects most of the pigeon species. However, authorities don’t protect Rock pigeons and Eurasian-collared doves. You can kill or hunt them all year without a permit.  

Migratory pigeons are protected pigeon species. The state authorities allow the hunting of these pigeons in small games. But, the hunting is limited for a few days. It also has a daily bag and possession limit. 

Shooting any pigeon requires the hunter to own a hunting license. The hunting license is available online or via an agent. So, you must carry the hunting license with you at all times on the field.