Bobwhite Conservation Officially ‘Inadequate’

October 28, 2011 | By | Reply More

USDA Not Helping Enough

No surprise to anyone that bobwhites aren’t doing so hot overall. But an official declaration that “conservation efforts on behalf of bobwhite quail and other native grasslands birds are far inadequate to stop their decline in the U.S.” hasn’t happened (we don’t think) until recently.

A coalition of 25 state wildlife agencies issued a new situation assessment and called for “decisive action” via the first-ever State of the Bobwhite: Grassland Conservation at a Crossroads from the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).

“A much larger, long-term commitment by all states and conservationists is imperative to overcome the half-century decline in bobwhite habitats and populations,” the report states. “Bobwhites are slipping through our fingers, and time is not on our side. We have the expertise. Now we need to muster the resolve.”

Incredibly, bobwhite quail populations have tanked as much as 80% over the past half century by some estimates, and songbirds that depend on the same habitat of native grasslands and shrublands have recorded similar declines.

To address that, the NBCI and its management board – wildlife agency directors and private conservationists – say the following actions (among others) are required over the next 12 months as just the initial steps to recovering quail and other grassland bird species:

1. The U.S. Department of Agriculture should step up to the plate to become a more positive force in the restoration of native grasslands and bobwhite quail, specifically by adopting a policy making native plant species, instead of aggressive exotics that provide poor habitat, the first choice when the department subsidizes with public money plantings on private lands.

    “This is probably the single most important thing that can be done across much of the country for America’s native grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them, including bobwhite quail and a whole host of songbirds,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie.

2. All hunters should join a native grassland habitat-related conservation organization immediately, whether the group emphasizes quail, turkey or songbirds.

3. All individual quail and grassland wildlife enthusiasts should also support their respective state’s quail management efforts by calling the state quail coordinator and offering personal involvement, political connections or financial support, as well as attendance and vocal support at meetings of the state wildlife commission or board.

4. Individuals need to communicate to their Congressional delegation the need to support Farm Bill conservation programs, which are being cut disproportionately relative to other Farm Bill provisions.

The report also highlights some positive things happening at the state level. Examples:

> Pennsylvania and West Virginia are preparing inaugural bobwhite conservation plans.

> There are now 180 state agency-led bobwhite focus areas in 12 states.

> Bobwhites have been included in efforts aimed at increasing wildlife diversity through ecosystem restoration in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

> New prescribed fire initiatives are benefitting bobwhites in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.

> Notable public outreach programs are underway in Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.


> To see the full report click here.

> To se Quail Forever’s recent 2011 Quail Hunting Forecast click here. It’s not all bad news, particularly for non-Bobwhite quail.

> NBCI, headquartered at the University of Tennessee, is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Southern Company.


Category: Feds, NBCI, Northern Bobwhite, Quail, Quail Forever

Leave a Reply