By Joshua Benton
Blade Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS — Voters rejected the only statewide issue on the ballot yesterday, deciding to allow continued hunting of mourning doves in Ohio. Supporters blamed the loss on a barrage of TV advertising.
“Money speaks very loud, and when money wants to kill the gentlest of creatures, it can,” said Ritchie Laymon, spokesperson for Save The Doves.
With 93 per cent of precincts reporting, the no vote was 1,837,886 and the yes vote was 1,234,377, a 59.8-40.2 per cent split.
The dove battle was fought mostly on the airwaves. Issue 1 was, depending on who you believed, a simple humane gesture or the beginning of an extremist animal rights agenda aimed at stopping animal research and a host of other activities.
Issue opponents, led by the Ohioans for Wildlife Conservation, aired a series of television ads claiming that the issue was the start down a slippery slope that would lead to an end to life-saving medical research, a ban on hunting, and the end of raising farm animals for meat.
Many of the ads never even mentioned dove hunting specifically, painting the issue as a broad-based conflict with extremists. Some of those ads are currently being investigated by the Ohio Elections Commission.
In contrast, issue supporters such as Save The Doves repeatedly said that the issue was simply about protecting doves, a songbird they said doesn’t produce enough meat to be useful and serves as target practice for hunters.