By Jen Kastner
PERMIAN BASIN- This Labor Day weekend marked the start of dove hunting season. Thousands of West Texans hit the road, ready to hunt. Yet, this season started off strangely. State and federal wildlife officials are investigating an unusual series of dove deaths, coming straight out of the Permian Basin.
NewsWest 9 met up with two avid dove hunters who simply want to go by Michael and Wright.
"It's just a good way to get the fall season started off," Wright said.
Michael added, "It's my stress release."
Michael and Wright have waited all year for dove season but this year's is starting off with an oddity. The bizarre series of recent dove deaths are coming straight out of Midland, Odessa and Big Spring.
Samples have been sent off for testing, but conclusive causes of death have yet to be determined. So far, poisoning has not been ruled out.
"Obviously, it will worry a hunter just for the simple fact that everything we kill, we'll eat. We don't let it go to waste. If I'm eating something that's contaminated or deadly or harmful to me or my family, that's definitely a concern," Michael said.
Wildlife officials say, however, that the most recent test results are showing that there is no evidence of toxins that could pose human health risks but they are still investigating. They're recommending hunters avoid eating any game that appears infected or diseased and avoid shooting birds acting strangely.
Despite this series of unexplained dove deaths, all the dove hunters NewsWest 9 spoke with say this news isn't deterring them from hunting.
"I'm not too worried about it because I really haven't heard anything certain about it," Wright said.
The hunters say they'll proceed cautiously for the time being and keep a watchful eye on any updates that are released.