For the first time since the 1950s, it is legal to hunt mourning doves in Ontario this fall.

The small birds are known for their song, but are also said to be good eating. Hunters and farmers in southern Ontario pushed for the restriction to be lifted.

'I'd rather not shoot them'

But Sudbury area hunter Andy Zandarin said he doesn't believe in hunting doves — and the complaints about an overabundance of the birds down south, don't apply in the north.

"But we don't have that problem here,” he said. “I spend half of my life in the bush. I don't see it. I have a few around my place and primarily because people like me have the bird feeders outside."

The dove hunt is only legal in a small section of northern Ontario, south of Highway 17, including Espanola, Manitoulin Island, the French River area, the southern reaches of Greater Sudbury and rural areas south of North Bay.

Zandarin said he has spoken out at game and fish association meetings about opening up the dove hunt.

"I got them right here at my feeder … and they're cute,” he said. “I would rather not shoot them and I hope other people do the same thing."

Zandarin said he would rather the government allow the hunting of sandhill cranes — something many other hunters and farmers in the north have called for.