Is It Illegal To Kill Pigeons In North Carolina [No]

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Pigeon infestation is frequent in North Carolina, leading to multiple issues like property damage and health risk. The easiest way is to kill the nuisance bird. Is it illegal to kill pigeons in North Carolina?  

No, it is not illegal to kill pigeons in North Carolina. The state authorities do not protect the common pigeon species, including the Rock pigeon and Eurasian collared dove. However, the wildlife authorities do not allow the trapping and killing of migratory pigeons.  

Shooting pigeons might sound like an easy method, but their specific rules and protocols that you need to follow. Continue reading the article to learn more about pigeon hunting in North Carolina. 

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

In North Carolina, it is illegal to hunt Migratory pigeons off-season. There are almost eight pigeon species in North Carolina. You can hunt Rock pigeons and Eurasian collared doves all year without a permit. Hunters will have to wait for the gaming festival to hunt Migratory pigeons.   

Typically, Migratory pigeon hunting begins in September and ends in late December. Hunters who wish to hunt and eat pigeons like the Mourning ground dove, white-winged dove, and common ground dove will have to participate in small games.   

It is legal to eat all pigeon species in North Carolina. Many hunters enjoy hunting solely to eat pigeon meat. However, food critics do not consider Feral pigeon meat safe. It is better to avoid eating Feral pigeon meat as they are the source of many disease-causing organisms. 

Why Is It Illegal To Hunt And Eat Pigeon In North Carolina?  

It is illegal to hunt Migratory pigeons off-season in North Carolina. The migratory bird treaty act was signed in 1918 between the US and other foreign countries. The purpose of the treaty is to protect Migratory birds and endangered species. It is illegal to harm, trap or kill Migratory pigeons. 

The state allows the hunting of Migratory pigeons for a few days each year for hunters to enjoy and to keep the population of pigeon species within the limit. There are specific dates, daily bag count, and possession limits for each Migratory pigeon species. Hunters can eat their harvest from the small game. But many recommend avoiding eating pigeon meat especially feral pigeon meat. 

Laws Governing About Pigeon Shooting In (North Carolina) State

Shooting pigeons is legal, but it requires some skills. There are rules in North Carolina to ensure safe pigeon hunting. Read through the laws and their detail below to learn about pigeon shooting in the state. 

Hunting License 

All hunters in North Carolina must complete a Hunting education certificate course before purchasing a license. There is no minimum age requirement to take the hunting course.

Young hunters must complete their hunting education course at 16 before applying for a hunting license. Youth hunters below 16 must be under the direct supervision of adult licensed hunters. Remember there is a test at the end of the hunting course. Hunters must pass the test to qualify for the hunting license.  

Hunting time 

Migratory pigeon hunting time begins thirty minutes before sunrise and ends thirty minutes after sunset. It is prohibited to hunt Migratory birds on Sunday. Hunters can hunt Feral pigeons on Sunday only using a bow and arrow. 

Shooting On Private Land 

A landowner, spouse, and children can hunt on private property without a permit. If you want to hunt on private land, notify the wildlife authorities and get a hunting permit. People leasing the land from landowners can also hunt on their property without any hunting permit. 

Hunting Weapons 

Hunters can use two kinds of weapons to shoot pigeons in North Carolina; firearm and archery equipment.  

Archery equipment 

Archery equipment includes a bow and arrow. The bow can be long, recurved, cross, sling, or compound. Longbow, sling bow, and Recurved bow must have a minimum pull of forty pounds.

The compound’s bow must have a minimum pull of thirty-five pounds. Crossbows must have a minimum pull of hundred pounds. The broadhead of all the bow and heads must be mechanical and of a seven-eight inch. The state does not allow using poisonous and explosive bowheads for hunting pigeons. 


Federal authorities have prohibited Rifles from hunting Migratory game birds. Hunters can only use shotguns to take down pigeons in North Carolina. Shotguns must be no larger than ten gauges and cannot hold more than three shells. 


It is illegal to use food items to lure Migratory pigeons. The federal authority forbids grains, fruits, and other pigeon food on the field. Similarly, hunters cannot use decoys, artificial light, or electronic callings to take down Migratory pigeons. Hunters can use artificial light to retrieve harvested pigeons. The state allows decoys and electronic or recorded calls for hunting Feral pigeons.  

How Can You Shoot And Hunt Pigeons In North Carolina State? 

Hunting and shooting pigeons are centuries-old practices. In the past, people used to hunt pigeons for food and sports as an activity. Due to the rapidly growing pigeon population in the state’s hunting, the pigeon has become essential. However, for safe shooting, you need to follow the guideline. Below are some pointers to help you with pigeon shooting in North Carolina. 

  • Complete the Hunting education certificate course and purchase a hunting license from wildlife authorities in North Carolina. 
  • Hunting licenses differ for minors, adults, senior citizens, residents, and non-residents. Clarify all your details online or with the agent before making a purchase. 
  • Check the dates for Migratory pigeon hunting on the website or local newspaper.  
  • Purchase legal weapons according to the law, which includes shotguns and archery equipment. 
  • To hunt pigeons, look for at least 60-yard land far from residential areas. 
  • 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. 
  • The state authorities do not allow hunting within 500m of any worship place.  
  • Hunters cannot use weapons to shoot pigeons within 150 yards of dwellings.  
  • Minor hunters must be under the direct supervision of an adult licensed hunter minimum of 21 years old.  
  • All hunters must wear a bright orange vest, cap, and backpack for identification.  
  • Hunters cannot use decoys, food, or electronic or mechanical call for Migratory pigeons. But all of these can be used for hunting Feral pigeons. 
  • After hunting, collect the harvest and dispose of it in large plastic bags.  
  • Hunters can eat migratory pigeons if they want. However, avoid eating Feral pigeon meat. 


Pigeon infestation is a common problem in the USA states. North Carolina is no exception, with almost eight different pigeon species living in the state. Pigeon hunting is legal in North Carolina to keep its population in control.  

The common pigeon species in North Carolina are the Rock pigeon and Eurasian collared dove. These pigeon species are not under the protection of federal authorities, and you can hunt them all year. 

However, to hunt Migratory pigeons’ hunters will have to participate in a small game that occurs every year from September to December. There is also a bag and possession count for Migratory pigeons.