Is It Illegal To Kill Pigeons In New Jersey [No]

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Most people do not consider pigeons as pests, at least not until they deal with these annoying and invasive birds. Killing pigeons is the quickest way to get rid of this nuisance. However, the rules depend upon each state. So, is it illegal to kill pigeons in New Jersey?   

No. It is not illegal to kill pigeons in New Jersey. In New Jersey, you can eliminate all species of pigeons except for the Migratory pigeons. Feral pigeons are most common in New Jersey. They are famous for building nests inside tall apartment buildings.   

Killing pigeons might sound easy, but there are several methods, including shooting. This article will guide you all about the shooting and hunting of pigeons in New Jersey. 

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

It is not legal to hunt Mourning and White-winged doves off-season. In New Jersey, doves are included in the gaming birds. You can only shoot them during gaming festivals. The daily bag limit of gaming birds is only 15, out of which ten can be white-winged doves. It is legal to hunt Feral pigeons all year. Other pigeon species living in New Jersey are Common ground doves and Band-tailed pigeons.  

You can eat pigeon meat in New Jersey. However, the food authorities do not recommend people eat Feral pigeon meat as it contains many disease-causing organisms. The wildlife authorities permit hunters participating in the gaming festival to eat the gaming bird. If the daily possessions limit is 10, you can eat them or discard them as per your choice before hunting other pigeons.  

Why Is It Illegal To Hunt And Eat Pigeon In New Jersey? 

It is not illegal to hunt and eat pigeons in New Jersey. Hunters can hunt pigeons in the state all year except for the Migratory pigeon or gaming birds. Typically, the gaming festival begins in September and ends on the first of January. During these four months, hunters can hunt all pigeon species across New Jersey. Migratory pigeons have a bag limit of ten to 15 birds per day.

Therefore, it is better to check wildlife websites ahead of hunting. Migratory pigeons are protected species as they are part of the Migratory pigeon act treaty. The treaty is an agreement for endangered and migratory bird protection across the USA and other foreign countries.  

Similarly, residents of New Jersey can enjoy pigeon meat. However, it is better to avoid it due to the health risk. Few supermarkets and restaurants serve quality pigeon meat. You can buy it from there rather than hunting and eating feral pigeons.  

Laws Governing About Pigeon Shooting In New Jersey State

The New Jersey state authorities allow shooting pigeons if they are a nuisance or during hunting season. Pigeon shooting is legal in the state to control the pest population.

The pigeon shooting rules in any American state will ensure hunters’ and environmental safety. Below I am discussing a few laws of New Jersey to assist you in pigeon shooting. 

Hunting License  

To hunt in New Jersey, you must obtain a hunting license. The state offers several types of hunting licenses depending on your age, residency, background, and how you want to hunt. However, you must complete a hunting education course before purchasing a hunting license.

The New Jersey hunting education certificate course focuses on hunting weapons, including firearms, bows, and arrows. It also teaches hunters all safety precautions and several methods of hunting. After attending all the classes, participants must attend a 100 MCQ test to obtain the hunting license.  

Young Hunters 

Anyone above ten years can apply for the hunting education certificate and license. However, only people above 12 can trap pigeons. Young hunters from 10 to 14 must be under the direct supervision of adult hunters. People above age 15 can hunt and trap pigeons without adult supervision. 

The wildlife authorities give youth hunting licenses to people above ten to sixteen. A youth license is only valid until the child reaches the age of 16. After that, he/she must possess an adult hunting license.  

Migratory Birds 

Harming, hunting, or killing Migratory pigeons off-season is illegal in New Jersey. The period for hunting Migratory doves in New Jersey begins in September and ends in December/January.

During this hunting period, hunters can hunt Migratory pigeons according to their daily bag count. Hunters only above 16 can participate in the hunting of Migratory pigeons.  

Hunting Weapon 

To shoot pigeons in New Jersey, you can use two different weapons, including firearms and archery equipment. The gun must not be larger than ten gauge or smaller than 410 calibers. It must hold only three shells, not more than that.

If your firearm has three gun shells and has the capacity for more, you cannot bring it to the hunting field. Shotguns must be cased and unloaded inside a vehicle. However, you cannot use poison on any weapon, either gun shells or arrows.  

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Pigeons In New Jersey State? 

The hunting rules are to help you with pigeon hunting and shooting in the state. After carefully understanding all the rules, I have summarized them in a few points to assist you. Read all these points thoroughly to understand the hunting and shooting methods in the state. 

  • Enroll yourself in the hunting education certificate program. Take all the classes and obtain a hunting certificate. 
  • Purchase a hunting license after submitting your certificate online or to a wildlife agent. 
  • Purchase a legal weapon, preferably a shotgun or bow, and arrow.  
  • Register yourself online for hunting on public land or get permission from the landowner to hunt on private property.  
  • Use all safety gear, including an orange or pink vest, cap, and goggles. Wearing bright colors on the field is for your own safety. 
  • Typically, hunting time in New Jersey begins at 6 am and ends at 4 pm. 
  • You cannot use poison on the weapons to kill more targets. However, you can use decoys to attract more feral pigeons to the field.  
  • After hunting, Migratory pigeons submit the harvest count online or inform the wildlife agent.  
  • Collect all the targets from the ground, and you can keep them with you. But there is a possession limit for each pigeon species. Check the bag and possession limit on the wildlife website.  


Pigeons killing and shooting might sound inhumane, but it has become essential due to their rapidly growing population. They might seem harmless but, in fact, are the cause of house mites and other disease-causing organisms.

Removing pigeons is not easy as they remember their nesting place and will keep coming back until you remove their source of attraction, which can be food, water, or shelter. The easiest method is to kill them. Several poisons and traps are available commercially to kill the annoying bird pest. However, if you live in an area far from your dwelling, you can use the weapon to eliminate pigeons from your property.  


New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection