State of the Bobwhite 2014
NBCI Making Conservation History South Texas First-Ever ‘Legacy Landscape’
More Features Inside! • New Jersey IDs 4 Focal Areas • Louisiana & USFS Team Up for Bobwhite Project on National Forest • Kentucky ‘Mining’ for Quail • National Pine Restoration Initiatives Paying Dividends • Tennessee’s Sweet ‘Donut Hole’ of Bobwhites
“So tell me, Grandpa ... what’s a bobwhite?”
Our generation has the last chance to reconnect wild quail with the land … and with people.
Don’t let bobwhites become just another faded memory on a mug! Contact us today. The Bobwhite Foundation is a 501(c)3 that supports and empowers the mission of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. NBCI is the uniﬁed strategy of 25 state wildlife agencies* to restore widespread wild bobwhite populations to huntable levels ... which is becoming a reality in many places. More information at www.bobwhitefoundation.org *Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Missouri Department of Conservation, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Ohio Division of Wildlife, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Pennsylvania Game Commission, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Bobwhite Almanac NBCI’s
State of the Bobwhite
© National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. 2014. D. F. McKenzie, T. V. Dailey, M.W. Black, and J. G. Doty. NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac, State of the Bobwhite 2014. National Bobwhite Technical Committee Technical Publication, Knoxville, TN. 48 pages.
NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac/State of the Bobwhite Report is an annual publication of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) to provide a range-wide snapshot of population, hunting and conservation status of the northern bobwhite, Colinus virginianus, as well as a sampling of major efforts underway to reverse the bobwhite decline. This report is made possible by the financial support of participating state agencies, the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, and the University of Tennessee. NBCI is an initiative by and for the National Bobwhite Technical Committee—25 state wildlife management agencies, along with numerous conservation groups, research institutions and federal partners—to provide national leadership, coordination and capacity to catalyze large-scale, strategic restoration of native habitats as the long-term means to restore widespread populations of wild bobwhite quail and, consequently, other species dependent on native grassland habitat. NBCI is headquartered at the University of Tennessee. NBCI Staff Director Don McKenzie
SEAFWA* Representative Reggie Thackston, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Science Coordinator/Assistant Director Dr. Tom Dailey
MAFWA* Representative Todd Bogenschutz, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Forestry Coordinator Mike Black
NEAFWA* Representative Andrew Burnett, New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
Communications Director John Doty Editorial Assistant/Graphics Heather Inman NBTC Steering Committee Chairman Chuck Kowaleski, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Chair-Elect/Treasurer/Secretary John Morgan, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources Past Chair Marc Puckett, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Academic Representative Dr. James Martin, University of Georgia
Member-At-Large Bill White, Missouri Department of Conservation Non-Game NGO Representative Catherine Rideout, Southeast Partners in Flight UT Representative Dr. Pat Keyser, Director, Center for Native Grasslands Management NBCI Representative Don McKenzie, Director Quail NGO Representatives James B. Wooley, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever Jay Stine, Quail Coalition
*SEAFWA—Southeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, MAFWA—Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, NEAFWA—Northeast Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies
NBCI State Quail Coordinators Alabama Mark Sasser
Mississippi Rick Hamrick
Arkansas Clifton Jackson
Missouri Scott Sudkamp
Delaware Matt DiBona
Nebraska Jeff Lusk
Florida Greg Hagan
New Jersey Andrew Burnett
Georgia James Tomberlin Reggie E. Thackston
North Carolina Mark Jones
Illinois Stan McTaggart Indiana N. Budd Veverka Iowa Todd Bogenschutz Kansas Jeffrey Prendergast Jim Pitman Kentucky John Morgan Louisiana Jimmy Stafford Maryland Bob Long
Ohio Nathan Stricker Oklahoma Scott Cox Pennsylvania Scott Klinger South Carolina Willie Simmons Tennessee Roger Applegate Texas Robert Perez Virginia Marc Puckett Jay Howell West Virginia Keith Krantz
COVER PHOTO: Our sincere thanks to wildlife biologist and photographer Dr. John Brunjes, KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, for his cover photo contribution (www.johnbrunjes.com).
www.bringbackbobwhites.org 2 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
TABLE OF CONTENTS P. 4 Foreword P. 5 Making Conservation History P. 8 Quail Tracks P. 12 A CIP Call to Action P. 14 South Texas Designated First Legacy Landscape P. 15 NBCI Launches New Awards Program P. 16 New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife Targeting Four Focal Areas
P. 20 Tennessee: Kyker Bottoms WMA a Little Donut Hole of Bobwhite Paradise P. 22 Mining for Quail: Kentucky Strikes ‘Bobwhite Gold’ at Old Coal Mine P. 24 Pine Initiatives Provide Major Boost for Bobwhites P. 27 State Conservation Reports P. 42 NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Inventory Index P. 48 NBCI State Agencies List & Acronyms
P. 18 Louisiana, Forest Service Launch Quail Project State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 3
FOREWORD My earliest childhood memory of a hunt and my first introduction to the bobwhite came on a family hunt on a Thanksgiving day. This “back forty” introduction took place in an abandoned apple orchard in southwest Virginia. This patch of ground was absolutely ideal habitat for rabbits and quail, or “partridges” as my grandfather liked to call them. That hunt was more than a half century ago and that old orchard and the small game it supported are long gone having been converted into something more “productive.” Years later I would have the opportunity to participate in a number of census counts done for bobwhites on the fabled Ames Plantation in west Tennessee. Dr. Ralph Dimmick at the University of Tennessee conducted these counts with various graduate and undergraduate volunteers and the results were most impressive back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Even there, the home of the National Bird Dog Field Trial and where the management of the bobwhite was of paramount importance, as elsewhere, the bobwhite has declined. A character in one of Hemingway’s books is reported to have said that he went broke in two ways: gradually and then suddenly! I suspect that many of us might feel the same way about the decline of the bobwhite across its range. However, our focus is now on the future and what needs to be done to restore and maintain the bobwhite in huntable populations. When we consider the many successes in other areas of conservation we recognize that recoveries take time, considerable resources and commitment. And if we are honest with ourselves, the decline of the bobwhite quail and many other associated grassland species is certainly a piece of unfinished business that requires and deserves our best professional efforts. To that end, the states are making significant strides in identifying and implementing corrective action. We now are in the second year of the second decade of the states’ concerted range-wide bobwhite conservation effort, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. We are blessed in this effort to have the talented services of the many members of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee as well as the NBCI staff who are working tirelessly to make measurable progress on our goal of the restoration of native habitats and the recovery of widespread bobwhite quail populations throughout its range. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our conservation partners: state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, research institutions and private citizens. I am particularly grateful to Dr. John Organ and the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program for supporting this effort and to the many state agency directors who joined with a pledge of financial support; to our NBCI staff for their passion and contributions to this cause and to my fellow members of the NBCI Management Board for efforts as well. Finally, a special thanks to my agency’s Virginia Quail Team and our state’s Virginia Quail Council for their leadership and determination to solve the quail problem here in my home state. Bob Duncan Chairman NBCI Management Board Executive Director Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
CONSERVATION HISTORY IN THE MAKING State wildlife agencies in 2014 have engineered a historic achievement in game bird conservation by uniting and pooling funds to support a state-centered national force to accelerate bobwhite restoration. The 25 states across core bobwhite range have recognized that bobwhite restoration is too difficult and complex to solve with a piecemeal approach, that a united national focus is vital to reach full restoration potential. The states first stepped out of their traditional individual boxes in 1998, charging their technical group—now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC)—to create the first regional, habitat-based plan to restore huntable quail populations. The resulting National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the states’ unified strategy to restore wild quail. Since its completion in 2002 and revision in 2011, the NBCI has worked with the NBTC, states and partners to build a national movement that has facilitated unprecedented progress in coordinating and addressing major bobwhite issues. The first dozen years, core funding for the NBCI’s nationallevel functions was cobbled together from a variety of ever-changing state, private and federal sources that got NBCI started and off the ground. However, funding unpredictability impeded development of a sufficiently strong and stable NBCI. Even more importantly, a fundamental conservation principle was shortchanged by the varied and erratic NBCI funding: state-centric leadership and action is essential for a high-priority state trust game species. With no federal trust role for resident game birds, states must take charge. Many agencies, organizations, institutions, landowners and individuals are passionate about restoring bobwhites; however, strong central leadership and action by the states is essential for a bobwhite conservation movement to reach a critical mass of momentum and impact. As long as core NBCI functions were funded by nonstate partners, the states’ leadership was not prominent. The NBTC Steering Committee in February 2013 proposed a dramatic step: that the states step up to provide the core of stable funding for the NBCI, assertively demonstrating state leadership and commitment to the cause. Funding from other partner sources would remain vital for implementing special regional projects. The NBCI Management Board—the state director-level oversight and guidance body, chaired at the time by Jon Gassett of Kentucky—endorsed the proposal in March 2013, officially launching the historic process. The basis of the idea is the creative application of a traditional state strength: the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (also known as Pittman-Robertson or P-R) Program. P-R is a “user pay” wildlife conservation funding mechanism dating from 1937. A 10- to 11-percent excise tax on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment is collected by the federal government and allocated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to each of the states to provide 75 percent reimbursement for wildlife conservation projects, as prioritized by each state individually. As transformative to state-level wildlife conservation as the P-R program has been, it was not designed nor envisioned to be used for multi-state projects or initiatives. Although the states use P-R funding for myriad valuable in-state projects, states increasingly realize that some of the biggest and most urgent wildlife problems, such as bobwhites, are bigger than any one state can address, alone. A convergence of factors created this unique opportunity to apply multi-state P-R funding to the NBCI: the states recognize the progress already instigated by the NBCI, and see the need for a stronger, more stable NBCI to continue
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 5
accelerating progress; future funding for the NBCI was increasingly uncertain; P-R revenues from sportsmen and allocations to states have been high in recent years; and bobwhites continue to decline across the range. An intricate, collaborative process during 2013-2014 created an innovative national mechanism to pool P-R funds from numerous states to the NBCI. Many people and agencies—too many to list individually—have assisted in this process. The USFWS Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) at national and regional levels stepped up to provide expertise and guidance. The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture provided the required 25 percent match for P-R funds, while the NBCI Management Board (now chaired by Bob Duncan of Virginia) and the NBTC Steering Committee continued to support and promote the concept. To date, 14 NBCI states already have committed substantially increased funding support of the NBCI; most are capitalizing on the new P-R mechanism, while others are choosing to use state funds. The accompanying two-page letter (on the facing page, consolidated to one page for space considerations) from Robert Barham, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, provides an illuminating perspective and motivating declaration of purpose from a state that is investing substantially in the NBCI and embracing a renewed determination to improve the status of bobwhites. This phenomenal show of commitment and support by the states is boosting the NBCI to new levels of capability and stability. By the end of 2014, this new era will enable the NBCI to provide direct leadership and state services to address additional priority goals, including federal agriculture conservation, grazing lands, focal area implementation and centralized data management services. Ongoing NBCI forestry, science coordination and public outreach programs also will be strengthened. A less noticeable but important change deriving from this new era of core state funding is the NBCI mission, expectations and accountability will be more focused and aligned more tightly with state priorities. This new focus will foster improved prioritization and targeting of NBCI and NBTC efforts, as well as greater participation by the states, all for the ultimate benefit of the states and their bobwhite resources. The result of this historic collaborative process is that a culturally and ecologically high-priority state trust game bird now is the beneficiary of increased state priority, state leadership, state investment, state action and state control … as it should be. Logically and just as importantly, sportsmen are the source of this crucial funding for a prized game bird, through purchases of licenses, firearms and ammunition. All this coalescence is made possible by the organization, infrastructure, leadership and buy-in of the states, the NBTC and the NBCI Management Board. As the greatest wildlife challenge in history, bobwhite restoration will not be solved quickly, or cheaply, or in a piecemeal manner. This generational conservation challenge will require unity, strategy, determination and investment on par with the magnitude of the problem. At this historic moment in game bird conservation, states are aggressively applying a new twist on an old strength, using sportsmen’s dollars to build a unique national momentum for bobwhite conservation. Such compelling demonstration of determination by the states provides real hope for ultimate success. Don McKenzie Director NBCI
NBCI States 6 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
State of the Bobwhite 2014 â€˘ 7
Quail Tracks ALABAMA The new director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Charles F. “Chuck” Sykes, has designated a very experienced bobwhite manager as the state’s new quail coordinator and liaison with NBCI. Mark Sasser has spent over two decades in bobwhite and wild turkey management and research in Florida and Alabama. For more about Mark and his background, please visit http://goo.gl/ jCMwu1. Sasser reports he’s concentrating on assessing the situation as quickly as possible, including plans for fall covey call counts in Barbour WMA (State of the Bobwhite 2013) to begin measuring habitat management impacts there and crop analysis of birds harvested there this winter. Plans are also to include other WMAs for assessment and surveys, including Freedom Hills WMA in Lawrence County, which has a sizable acreage in shortleaf pine restoration. Also, meetings are planned with the Alabama Wildlife Federation Quail Committee as well as the Quail Forever chapters in the state to coordinate and streamline management efforts. A cooperative effort is underway between the Wildlife Division and Parks Division and the Covey Rise Chapter of QF to establish a demonstration longleaf pine savanna at Wind Creek State Park. Quail management opportunities on other public lands within the state are also on the radar, especially the Conecuh National Forest in south Alabama and Talladega National Forest. ARKANSAS The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working with local officials of the National Park Service (NPS) to establish the state’s first official NBCI focal area on the 4,300-acre Pea Ridge National Military Park. The Park’s new vegetation management plan aims to restore natural landscapes representative of the Civil War era, meaning some 2,900 mostly contiguous acres are targeted for eventual restoration to much more open conditions, with native grassland and
8 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Brief, But Important prairie, savanna, and open woodland. When it comes to restoration of open landscapes with native habitats, the Park’s primary cultural mission overlaps the Commission’s bobwhite restoration goals. Even in early stages of restoration, park staff have already documented recolonization of bobwhites. The pace of future restoration is constrained by limited personnel and budgets, so park administrators are seeking partnerships that can bring additional resources to the task. The Commission and Park Service are developing a formal partnership to facilitate collaboration, as well as to designate the Park as a NBCI Focal Area, following the guidelines of the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program. The project has caught the attention of a local independent sportsman’s club, Benton County Quail, which is interested in partnering with the Park Service and the Commission to provide additional funding and manpower to the restoration and monitoring efforts. The high potential for certain national parks to become quail focal areas arises from increasing recognition by the NPS of the value of natural landscapes and habitats as authentic representations of historic cultural conditions. This developing federal/ state/local partnership in northwest Arkansas epitomizes the NBCI vision of collaboration, and could become a national model for accelerating bobwhite restoration. DELAWARE Biologists say they are eyeing Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area in New Castle County as possibly the state’s first NBCI Bobwhite Focal Area. Approximately 1,500 acres of the 5,500-acre area is suitable for quail habitat, with a population continuing to persist in the area. Next steps will be defining a reference area and sampling points under the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) protocol. FLORIDA Working with other partners, Florida formalized the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition—a cooperative
partnership among the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, Quail Forever (QF) and Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy to enhance, promote and conserve quality habitat for bobwhite, and to promote and support youth shooting sports programs and education. The goal is for QF chapters to raise funds to establish, manage and monitor bobwhite populations and habitat on public lands and to increase youth shooting sports opportunities. For more detail, visit http://goo.gl/XUq0J8. GEORGIA From 2009-2013 the proportion of pen-reared quail in the harvest declined by 45%, but the wild bobwhite harvest increased 310%. In addition, the bobwhite population at DiLane WMA reached an all-time high of 1 bird/1.8 acres. “The past season was one of the best seasons in the last 15 years on lands being intensively managed for quail,” says the state’s quail coordinator, Reggie Thackston. “We had above average rainfall during spring and summer and it was our second consecutive good growing season for ground cover.” In addition, the state partnered with Florida, Quail Forever and Tall Timbers Research Station to form the Florida/ Georgia Quail Coalition (see above). ILLINOIS In Illinois, corn is king … so they have to find ways to improve whatever acres they can get for wildlife. Illinois is getting aggressive with CP33 (federal incentive practice for native vegetation field borders), trying to target growers who may not be interested in quail but are interested in their bottom line. By showing growers actual yield monitor data and running the numbers, they can see how much money they’re losing farming these unproductive acres. The University of Illinois estimates the total cost of putting a corn crop in the ground at $582/acre (includes equipment, fuel, crop insurance, seed, fertilizer, overhead, herbicide, etc.).
Average market price for corn over the last 10 years is roughly $4.00/bushel. Yield from a field edge in Christian County in 2012 (pretty good year) averaged 88.4 bushels/acre (X $4.00/ bushel = $353.00 gross income). Subtract $353 from the cost to put the crop in the ground, ($582) and you have a NET LOSS of $228.40 per acre, per year. If farmed for the next 10 years with an average yield and market price, the grower would lose over $26,000 dollars on these acres! These same acres enrolled in CP33 for 10 years with an annual soil rental payment of $278.18/ acre per year (not including sign-up incentive payments and cost-share for establishment) would have a net profit of over $30,711. “Just to break even for the cost of raising a crop at $582/acre, a grower needs to raise 145 bushels per acre,” says Stan McTaggart, state quail coordinator. “They need to raise 214 bushels to match the profit of enrolling in CP33 on these acres. To say this is ‘unlikely’ on these field edges is an understatement. Soil rental rates have climbed upward in recent years, following higher commodity prices and higher cash rent. This summer/fall, commodities have fallen rapidly but inputs have remained the same, resulting in very high input costs and very low market prices for grain. “This is perfect timing to market CP33 with yield monitor data and an approach that focuses on profit rather than quail to reach landowners who may not have been interested in a ‘quail program’.” INDIANA The Public Lands Unit added 500 acres of new quail habitat (converted forest and fescue) and improved another 3,721 acres on 8 fish and wildlife areas using funds dedicated to their Early Successional Habitat Initiative. IOWA Iowa was one of nine states to receive funding under a recent $20 million bump in Farm Bill grants designed to increase access for sportsmen, protect wildlife and improve business opportunities for rural economies. Iowa’s $3 million share will be directed to the Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP).
“We actually have some money to help private landowners with quail habitat in southern Iowa,” says Todd Bogenschutz, the state’s quail coordinator. Iowa also reports a 142% increase in bobwhites from 2013 in their August roadside survey. KANSAS In 2012 Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) established a quail initiative with two focus areas. One is located in southeast Kansas in the Osage Cuestas, which historically supported large populations of bobwhites, but has been plagued by continual declines in habitat quality to the point of severely limiting bobwhite populations. Managers have begun hitting the reset button on the 10,000-acre public land anchor for this 114,711-acre focal area, converting fescue to native grasses and removing invasive trees. The Grand Osage Wildlife Area is located near Parsons on what was previously the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. When acquired in 2011, the area had approximately 3,000 acres of exotic fescue pasture, 200 acres of native grass, 500 acres in agricultural lands, 600 acres mature hardwood timber, with the nearly 6,000 remaining acres existing in invasive trees. In the last two years 320 acres of fescue have been converted to warm season grass, 100 acres of fescue have been sprayed to allow annual forb regeneration, 500 acres of invasive trees have been removed, and buffers have been added to all agriculture fields. There is also a contract for tree shearing and a skid steer is operating almost continuously cutting trees. Plans are to convert a minimum of 100 acres of grass annually. Access to the site is currently by special permit only until unexploded ordinance cleanup is concluded, but the area does offer a few upland bird hunts each year. KDWPT uses Grand Osage as a demonstration to encourage private land managers nearby to help re-establish the historic quail culture of southeast Kansas.
KENTUCKY The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources has observed a 57% increase in quail from 2012 to 2013, and the state’s bobwhite restoration team leaders took home the 2014 NBCI National Fire Bird Conservation Award for their efforts (Page 15). For an indepth look at one of their projects, which has resulted in a 91.3% increase in the area’s fall population over 5 years, see Mining for Quail on Page 22. LOUISIANA The US Forest Service has approved the creation of a “bobwhite emphasis area” on the Calcasieu Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest. Forest Service efforts to support Louisiana’s bobwhite restoration netted the national forest a 2014 NBCI Fire Bird Conservation Award. Read about this joint project in more detail on Page 18. MARYLAND Maryland DNR and its partners are encouraged by new data showing that bobwhite numbers have increased dramatically on some public and private lands where they were thought to be nearly extirpated in recent history. The winter of 2009-2010 brought almost unprecedented severe weather and contributed to a nearly complete loss of bobwhites on Chino Farms, a large well-managed property in the Eastern part of the state. However, surveys are suggesting that breeding populations have increased exponentially over the last 5 years and some portions of the farm may even have more birds than before the “Storm of the Century.” Bob Long, the state’s quail coordinator, noted that bobwhite have also rebounded well on other wildlife management areas and farms in the region, showing that quail on the northern fringe of their range can withstand periodic catastrophic events with good habitat management. MISSISSIPPI For the first time since it became a state wildlife management area in 2003, public quail hunting will be offered on the 3,943-acre Charles Ray Nix Wildlife Management Area (CRNWMA), located in Panola County in north-central
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 9
Mississippi, during the 2014-2015 hunting season. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) has emphasized habitat management practices that benefit bobwhite quail and populations have responded favorably, with significant increases detected by summer and fall call counts. The quota hunt opportunity will be monitored through a cooperative research project administered by Mississippi State University and MDWFP to evaluate hunter satisfaction and the impact of varying levels of harvest on the bobwhite population. As a private tract, this area had a history of providing excellent quail hunting. There is a classic story about this particular property in the book Point by Horace Lytle entitled “GoodTime Charlie” that describes a particular hunt that took place during 1941-1942 season on what is now CRNWMA. Nash Buckingham, a legendary outdoor writer, is also said to have hunted quail on this area. MISSOURI Recommendations have been made for updating Missouri’s quail management plan for the next 10 years. Strategic Guidance for Northern Bobwhite Recovery, 2014-2024 would use a focal area basis, rather than the previous state-wide approach, acknowledging that some areas have been lost to quail conservation, and that geographically focused efforts in areas with high or medium BRI scores (NBCI 2.0) offer the best chance for success. “To that end, we’ve identified both public land (Quail Emphasis Areas) and private land (Quail Focus Areas) geographies where we will focus a lot of our work, in an effort to be more effective with limited staff and budgets,” said Scott Sudkamp, state small game coordinator. The plan outlines six work areas: Habitat, Populations, Outreach, Partners, Focus Areas, and Program Review & Assessment. The plan reinforces the idea that good quail habitat benefits myriad other species, and urges quail management to be integrated into habitat plans for other flagship species such as deer and turkey. It also encourages the use of improved marketing strategies, including working with professional marketers, and calls
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for a process to facilitate conservation area reviews that bring together habitat managers to discuss habitat management challenges and success stories, and to share new and innovative ideas among peers. NEBRASKA Just this year the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Foundation to improve grassland habitat for bobwhites and pollinators on over 7,500 acres of private and public land. The state is using these funds to leverage additional funding from other sources for the same purpose, and will make incentive payments to private landowners for bobwhite and pollinator-friendly management activities. On public land, the funds will be used to expand on early successional habitat management initiatives. Priority will be given to the new NBCI Bobwhite Focal Area in Thayer and Jefferson Counties in southeast Nebraska. The new focal area is the Meridian Bobwhite Quail Initiative, named after the sixth principal meridian that passes through the area and anchored by the Alexandria and Meridian Wildlife Management Areas. Habitat improvement work is being scheduled, and private landowner contacts being made. As part of the NBCI Focal Area program, the Meridian Bobwhite Quail Initiative will utilize the Coordinated Implementation Program guidelines for monitoring and evaluation. Resource managers selected a reference area just north of the focal area in Saline County, along with 120 monitoring points for spring point counts in both the focal and reference areas. In early June, the state conducted point counts training at the Alexandria WMA and the first round of point counts was completed shortly afterward. NEW JERSEY The good news from the Garden State, the second smallest NBCI state and the nation’s most densely populated, is that biologists there are working on four potential NBCI focal areas under the new NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program. The state will also host the
annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee next year. New Jersey’s focal area efforts are examined on Page 16. NORTH CAROLINA The state’s Southeast Focal Area (SEFA), launched in 2009 with Bladen, Cumberland, Duplin and Sampson counties, is continuing to expand. Columbus County was added this year, and reports are there is growing interest in Brunswick and Pender counties. Those two may be added soon. Fall covey counts have ranged over five per point on one intensively managed property. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission provides free technical advice to any interested party. And every available tactic is being used to improve early-successional habitat, including use of the USDA Farm Bill, State Environmental Enhancement Grant funds, and out-of-pocket landowner funding. Watch for a report detailing the state’s accomplishments later this year. OHIO The Buckeye State has launched a new quail research project designed primarily to re-tool its roadside spring bobwhite whistle count survey. The new survey design will allow use of some newer statistical techniques to estimate detection probability. One project component is weatherproof, programmable audio recorders to survey for whistling males in the spring, and performance testing for detection of fall/winter covey calls. While they can’t be used to estimate covey density (individuals cannot be distinguished in the recordings with 100% accuracy), they could potentially be used to estimate presence/absence in areas of low quail density. Depending on test results, multiple recorders could be used to survey for coveys simultaneously, reducing the manpower needed to conduct covey call surveys. In addition, a random sample of the survey area (about 22 counties in southern Ohio) is allowing development of some spatial habitat models based on the 2011 National Land Cover Database (NLCD). Preliminary results from the first year of data shows that potential quail habitat in southern Ohio is highly
fragmented and patchy, which confirms suspicions about population distribution. The ability to create spatial habitat models also means that the modeling approach will be useful in ranking several potential quail focal area sites … and, at a very coarse scale, develop estimates of what habitat restoration activities might be needed on those areas to reach target quail populations. OKLAHOMA Two good recovery years (cool and moist summers) since the droughts of 2011, 2012 and early 2013 appear to be having a positive impact on bobwhite reproduction statewide. As habitat recovers, there is an increase in forbs and insects, and ideal conditions for nesting birds. Roadside surveys being conducted should tell the tale. In addition, the Oklahoma Quail Habitat Guide has been revised and is available at http://goo.gl/ dTwQ0t. PENNSYLVANIA Pennsylvania is completing Phase 1 of its new quail initiative, which is to complete a statewide assessment of bobwhite populations, including current distribution, population status and population trends. The next step will be identifying areas of the state that either have or could have suitable quail habitat. SOUTH CAROLINA South Carolina is receiving an “incredible response” in their efforts to build a state quail council. Members to date include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Farm Service Agency, the US Forest Service, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Quail Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, Clemson University School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences, Audubon Society, SC Prescribed Fire Council and key private landowners.
TENNESSEE Tennessee has developed a bobwhite management plan (http://goo.gl/ hKRYZ6) and an “operational plan” is being finalized, reports Roger Applegate, state quail coordinator. In addition, the manager of the state’s Kyker Bottoms Refuge, Bill Smith, received a 2014 NBCI Fire Bird Conservation Award in recognition of his work. For more on Bill Smith and Kyker Bottoms, see Page 20. TEXAS The Lone Star State has already put $2 million on the ground through 15 contracts with conservation partners to support upland bird habitat projects in focal counties. Texas Parks & Wildlife received authority to spend $4 million of proceeds from the state game bird stamp for quail focal area development. Another $2 million will hit the ground next year. VIRGINIA Virginia is celebrating five years of the Virginia Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI), during which time they’ve worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute to hire and support five private lands biologists who have made over 2,000 site visits, created 33,000 acres of habitat and delivered $4.3 million in cost share funds to landowners. Amelia WMA and the New Kent Forestry Center are new quail demonstration areas and coordination with NBCI has resulted in a 7,500acre pilot Bobwhite Focal Area in Sussex County under the new NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program. This combination of the Piney Grove Preserve, Big Woods Wildlife Management Area, and Big Woods State Forest will create a model for quail restoration, combining intensive monitoring and extensive habitat management. A partnership with Virginia’s Department of Forestry on the Forestry Quail Habitat Recovery Program has been very successful and the program recently expanded to include prescribed fire, an integral tool in the quail habitat creation tool box.
Virginia Quail Council members and other interested groups have had several meetings to review the last five years and gather new ideas. Theme for the next five years may well emphasize managing Virginia’s forests for quail, along with outreach efforts to ensure a public understanding that QRI efforts benefit a wide spectrum of associated wildlife species. WEST VIRGINIA Although the “Mountain State” is just that, and 82% forested, WVDNR has, nonetheless, completed a statewide bobwhite management plan which is under internal review, according to Keith Krantz, the state’s quail coordinator. The plan incorporates quail habitat management techniques and opportunities into the state’s overarching Early Successional Habitat Management Plan for wildlife management areas. NBTC ANNUAL AWARDS South Carolina Chief of Wildlife Billy Dukes received the NBTC’s 2014 Individual Achievement Award for more than two decades of support for bobwhite efforts, including his leadership during the expansion of the original Southeastern states’ effort to a range-wide endeavor, and the transition to full-time staffing of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. For more information, visit http://goo.gl/x6vmx3. The NBTC Group Achievement award went to the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture (OPJV), in Oklahoma and Texas, represented by Dr. James Giocomo, OPJV coordinator. NBTC cited the joint venture’s priority commitment to integrated habitat conservation for both bobwhites and a suite of associated grassland birds, as well as its active support of the bobwhite technical group. For more information, visit http://goo.gl/x6vmx3.
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 11
A CALL TO ACTION
New NBCI Focal Area Program Ready for Launch
By Don McKenzie, NBCI Director
ight decades of bobwhite research and experience provide immense knowledge and skill in managing its habitats and populations at ground level. The NBCI 2.0 strategic plan—developed by the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) and the 25 bobwhite states— provides a 30,000-foot estimation of the magnitude of the bobwhite restoration challenge as well as a 25-state vision for initial prioritization of conservation efforts. The NBCI 2.0 highlights 436 million acres of high and medium priority landscapes for bobwhite habitat restoration across 25 states. Clearly, this massive task cannot be tackled all at once; thus, focal areas have been seen as logical starting points and stepping stones toward larger landscape restorations. The NBCI 2.0 provides basic guidance to states on stepping down the big vision to smaller, manageable focal areas, but leaves the details up to individual states and partners. Focal areas for quail are a logical and important mechanism for many reasons: • Bobwhite restoration is a long-term challenge burdened by short-term: ◉ expectations; ◉ attention spans; ◉ budget cycles • Entire landscapes or states cannot be fixed at once; • Shorter-term successes can be demonstrated; • Key biological and habitat concepts underlying the NBCI can be proven; • Hope can be instilled, and thus perseverance secured; and • Ongoing biological learning can be fostered methodically.
The logistical challenges In the early years of the NBCI, states independently took a wide array of approaches to implementing quail focal areas; for example, focal areas have ranged in size from 300 acres to 2.3 million acres. Further, as bobwhite populations in most states become fragmented and isolated into pockets of the last remaining suitable landscapes, no longer does the “build it and they will come” adage automatically apply. Thus, habitat restoration projects conducted in poor landscapes are likely to disappoint if the nearest population of wild birds is far away. In some cases no goals were set, so “success” could not be declared; in still others monitoring was not conducted, thus precluding any knowledge about results. Predictably, a wide array of approaches generates a wide array of outcomes, ranging from successes to failures to complete unknowns (societally equivalent to failures). Some important lessons can be drawn from these actual state experiences with quail focal areas. Ways to ensure that quail focal areas will fail to meet expectations include: • make them too big to manage, or too small to matter; • locate them in a landscape with low potential for success; • provide weak agency follow-through; • neglect the importance of landowner interest and involvement; • secure weak concentration of agency and partner resources into the focal area; • overlook key partner coordination and support; • establish no: ◉ bird population goals; or ◉ habitat objectives;
NBCI Focal Tiers Example - VA Powhatan
Gloucester Charles City
Colonial Heights Petersburg
Nottoway Newport News
Isle of Wight
Brunswick Southampton Emporia
NBCI FocusArea Suffolk
NBCI ReferenceArea NBCI Focal Region
VA Counties 0
Sources: VA Counties - VA DCR All Other Data - DGIF Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries - JEH - 4/30/2014
Georgia and Virginia are two examples of NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program adoption. A third example, New Jersey, can be seen on Page 17. 12 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
conduct no monitoring of: ◉ habitat improvements; and ◉ bird population responses; • fail to publicize documented progress; • foster unrealistically high or quick expectations; • be impatient, or give up too quickly and easily. While the biological or cultural reasons for disappointing results are not always known or apparent, some societal consequences are predictable: • valuable time is wasted in this race against the clock; and • public confidence is undermined in: ◉ agency competence; ◉ habitat degradation as the basis for the rangewide bobwhite decline; and ◉ habitat management as the foundation for success. The NBCI and the NBTC have recognized the need to capitalize on these lessons learned, in order to accelerate collective successes, and to minimize future failures or unknowns. The new NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP) (http://goo.gl/UZZCkL) is the first methodically designed guidance to help managers and states more effectively bridge the 30,000-foot gap between the ground and the big picture. The main purposes of the CIP are to: • catalyze multiple near-term quail restoration successes in numerous states; • demonstrate the habitat basis of bobwhite restoration. What is the CIP? An ad hoc working group was formed by the NBTC in 2012 to develop formal focal area guidance that would be broadly applicable across the 25 states. After several meetings, myriad conference calls and reviews, pilot testing by six states, and the input of scores of biologists from 25 states and partner institutions, the CIP was completed in February 2014 and was formally approved in March 2014 by the NBCI Management Board. It now is ready for implementation. The CIP provides specific guidance for implementing voluntary official NBCI focal areas aimed to restore sustainable quail populations at desired levels: • Sets up a tiered geographic system, based on the NBCI 2.0 high/medium/low statewide rankings, whereby highest priority is accorded to focal areas that are nested inside: ◉ focal landscapes, which are nested inside ◉ focal regions. • Sets a minimum focal area size, to provide 1,500 acres of year-round usable habitat, that: ◉ Comprises at least 25% of the focal area; • Requires a nearby reference area of similar landscape composition, for comparisons.
Requires a bobwhite population goal for the focal area; • Recommends time frames: ◉ <5 years for habitat restoration and preliminary quail and bird population response; and ◉ <10 years for achieving quail population goal; • Establishes required standard protocols for monitoring: ◉ habitat conditions; and ◉ bird populations (bobwhites and grassland songbirds). • Recommends measurement and/or management of hunter pressure and harvest. • Recommends a centralized NBCI data management system to archive, analyze and report results for all participating states. In addition to the six states that pilot-tested the CIP protocols in 2013—Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Virginia—Nebraska and Oklahoma launched baseline monitoring in 2014, and several more states are preparing NBCI focal areas, including Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the NBCI soon will be hiring a geographic information system/data management specialist to develop the centralized data management support services for the states, in addition to filling a new grassland management position to provide technical coordination for implementation. Why does CIP matter? The CIP establishes the first-ever feasible and methodical framework for individual states as well as the community of NBCI states to voluntarily collaborate in a consistent, synergistic and efficient implementation process by establishing official nationally recognized focal areas. The CIP will help individual states learn what works and doesn’t work for bobwhites, while enabling similar learning at regional and national scales. The CIP may become even more valuable for catalyzing partnerships; it provides simple, tangible linkages for partners to constructively engage the NBCI and their state wildlife agencies. NBCI focal areas can be established on any type land ownership: private, corporate, local, state, federal or a combination. Every focal area also can be a magnet for partners to contribute resources to aid habitat management, monitoring, and public education. The CIP is the gateway to unprecedented levels of collaboration, to meet an unprecedented challenge. The NBCI’s CIP is the beginning of a long process. It is the best and most methodical means ever devised to help states foster bobwhite and grassland bird restoration success stories in the near term. The CIP is not the end; it is the essential next step to be taken, before the one after that … and the one after that.
CALL TO ACTION
The NBCI and NBTC call for: • Creation of at least one official NBCI focal area in every state in the near future. • Active support by local sportsmen’s groups to help implement NBCI focal areas. State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 13
South Texas Designated First-Ever
‘Legacy Landscape for Northern Bobwhite Conservation’
he nation’s professional bobwhite community recognized a decades-long tradition of good land stewardship and aggressive bobwhite management and research across roughly 20 million acres of native rangeland this year as South Texas became the nation’s first “Legacy Landscape for Northern Bobwhite Conservation.”
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and its technical body, the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC), announced the designation during NBTC’s annual meeting. Dr. Leonard Brennan, with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M in Kingsville, accepted on behalf of the legion of “dedicated, responsible landowners, resource managers, researchers, and quail hunters” who earned the designation. “The national bobwhite community recognizes and encourages efforts to conserve vast areas of bobwhite habitat, whether through management practices or other decisions, that provide long-term viability of not only wild bobwhite populations but also many other associated species,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “South Texas is a longstanding national model for such efforts and tradition, and we commend the region and its people for this enviable status.” For additional information, please visit http://goo.gl/0HhDrB.
Classic South Texas Bobwhite Habitat 14 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
New Awards Program
For States, Outdoor Writers
ith the participation of Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, NBCI kicked off its new National Fire Bird Conservation Awards program in 2014 at the annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee in West Des Moines, Iowa in July.
Award recipients are chosen each year by the respective NBCI-member state’s quail coordinator for their contributions to that state’s efforts toward habitatbased restoration of wild bobwhite populations. “By sponsoring the awards each year, NBCI provides another tool for state coordinators who choose to use it to push their restoration agenda and recognize valuable assistance when they receive it,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “They also give NBCI an additional opportunity to push the message of bobwhite restoration in those states. The name, Fire Bird, was chosen because it allows us additional opportunities to relate how important prescribed fire is today—and how crucial fire was historically—across much of the bobwhite’s range.” This year’s recipients were: Georgia: Di-Lane Plantation Wildlife Management Area Team (John Bearden, Henry Williams, Steve Kyles, John Lovett, Haven Barnhill, I. B. Parnell, Vic VanSant, Lee Taylor, Buck Marchinton) Kentucky: Team Leaders of the state’s restoration plan, “Road to Recovery: The Blueprint for Restoring the Northern
Bobwhite in Kentucky” (Tom Edwards—Bluegrass Army Depot Focal Area, Nathan Gregory—Clay WMA Focal Area, Philip Sharp—Livingston County Focal Area, and Eric Williams—Peabody WMA Focal Area) Louisiana: US Forest Service, Kisatchie National Forest South Carolina: Mark Coleman, private citizen and state bobwhite restoration leader, Spartanburg Tennessee: Bill Smith, manager of TWRA’s Kyker Bottoms Refuge
For a complete report on the winners, please visit http://goo.gl/QIfyoH.
NBCI has also launched the National Fire Bird Conservation Award/Outdoor Communicator of the Year in conjunction with the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA). This category has first, second and third places, and winners will be announced for the first time in October at SEOPA’s 50th Anniversary conference at the location of its founding, Fontana Village, NC. “We need to find ways to better engage outdoor communicators in the bobwhite habitat restoration effort and educate the public about the importance of early successional habitat to wildlife. Much of the collective knowledge and understanding about what bobwhites require to be a part of our landscape has disappeared the same way bobwhites have,” McKenzie said.
Two Fire Bird winners were able to attend the annual NBTC meeting in Iowa to receive their awards. In photo at left are Jason Nolde (left), representing Kisatchie National Forest, and Louisiana’s quail coordinator, Jimmy Stafford, who nominated the Kisatchie. In photo at right are award winner Bill Smith, manager of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Kyker Bottoms Refuge (left), and Tennessee’s quail coordinator, Roger Applegate.
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 15
New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife Targeting Four Bobwhite Focal Areas
t might be tempting to think the fifth smallest state in the Union (and the second smallest state in the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative) might use its small size (21 counties and 7,790 square miles), and its #1 ranking for human population density (1,170.64/square mile) as a reasonable excuse for not even attempting to participate in NBCI’s Coordinated Implementation Program (CIP). After all, CIP participation requires at least one focal area with a minimum of 1,500 acres of usable year-round habitat that comprises a minimum of 25% of the focal area’s size. And, then there’s the specific monitoring required of both habitat and birds. And, what if you’re on the edge of the bobwhite’s range to boot? And the season on wild quail was discontinued in 2011? But the Garden State hasn’t hesitated in its commitment to bobwhites … New Jersey is not only hosting the annual meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee next year in Galloway, they’re working to bring online four official NBCI focal areas. Work is already underway in each. Under the auspices of the New Jersey Northern Bobwhite Action Plan, the state’s quail coordinator, Andrew Burnett, and habitat specialist Jimmy Sloan with the Bureau of Wildlife Management have worked with others in the Bureau and the Bureau of Land Management, the Endangered & Nongame Species Program, and an array of other organizations (via Quail Stakeholders meetings) to develop and support a management plan to increase by 50% the quality of habitat necessary to improve populations of bobwhites to 1980 levels. Their strategy is based on the designation of 557,251
Below, a tractor and cultipacker used to conduct strip disking. Right, an example of a multiyear, multi-purpose mix planting of mainly food items, including milo and partridge pea.
16 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
acres in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties west of State Highway 55 as an NBCI Focal Region (aka to some in the state as a “Conservation Opportunity Area.”) Nearly half the area is considered potentially suitable quail habitat, and is characterized by extensive agricultural areas, relatively low population density and 87,000 acres of preserved open space. Within that Focal Region are four Focal Areas based on public lands, interconnectedness or proximity to willing and/ or potentially willing private landowners, and natural physical land features. • Focal Area 1 is 6,445 acres and is based around the 4,299-acre Dix Wildlife Management Area, plus nearby private landowners • Focal Area 2 totals 10,697 acres and includes all or parts of the New Sweden, Fortescue, Egg Island and Nantuxent Wildlife Management Areas, as well as private acreage • Focal Area 3 totals 8,590 acres and includes parts of the Buckshutem Wildlife Management Area and the Millville Wildlife Management Area, as well as private acreage • Focal Area 4 is 16,469 acres and includes the Millville Wildlife Management Area as well as nearly 4,000 acres of mine sites, the owners of which have agreed to create bobwhite habitat on those lands. Across these four focal areas are 75 “Quail Management Units” of approximately 100 acres, each having been identified as existing early successional habitat that isn’t quite “up to par.” Forty-six of them are on state land, the remainder on private lands. These are the primary targets for on-the-ground habitat management activities, which are underway. The goal at the
end of five years is for each QMU to be able to sustain a quail covey for its entire life cycle by providing cover appropriate for nesting, brood rearing, loafing and escape, as well as food. Management practices include rotational strip disking, field buffers, prescribed fire, edge feathering, plantings of native warm-season grasses and forbs (on a 1:4 ratio) and hedgerows, and hydro axing (a hydraulic axe that mulches trees up to 12 inches in diameter). This year, they will begin shortleaf pine management on the Millville WMA with commercial thinning and prescribed fire, using proceeds from the thinning to foot the bill for other management activities there. More than bobwhites are expected to benefit from this habitat work in New Jersey. Of the 156 terrestrial species listed or proposed for listing as endangered, threatened or of special concern by the NJ Conserve Wildlife Foundation, at least 44 rely on early- or mid-successional habitats and occur in the focal region. Among those that will be included in the bobwhite focal area monitoring are the bobolink, eastern meadowlark, grasshopper sparrow, Henslow’s Legend sparrow, horned lark, savannah sparrow, vesper sparrow and NBCI Focal Area yellow-breasted chat. NBCI Reference Area The Division of Fish & NBCI Focal Landscape Wildlife isn’t doing this alone, NBCI Focal Region of course. Through their Quail County Stakeholders meetings they’ve crafted an impressive array of organizations contributing money and manpower to the effort, including the South Jersey Quail Project, the National Wild Turkey Federation, New Jersey Audubon, Quality Deer Management Association, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance … and even Ducks Unlimited. Not to mention private landowners—they’ve visited 22—and written management plans for 14,251 private acres alone. In June, in fact, Field & Stream honored South Jersey Quail Project’s efforts to create habitat connectivity on public and private lands by building hedgerows and planting native
New Jersey NBCI 2.0 Habitat Potential Analysis Maps
grasses to benefit New Jersey's bobwhite quail. For more details, visit http://goo.gl/5VKEx3. To review the state’s management plan, which was revised in 2011, please visit http://goo.gl/Md2V4a. To view the most current Hunting and Trapping Digest article on the subject, please visit http://www.eregulations.com/newjersey/hunting/ habitat-managament-on-public-lands-in-southwestern-newjersey/.
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 17
State Restoration Plan in Review
Louisiana, Forest Service
Launch Quail Project on Kisatchie NF
ouisiana’s state quail coordinator, Jimmy Stafford, is optimistic these days. “Hopefully, the next 10 years will be a turning point for quail in our state,” Stafford says.
First, a draft bobwhite restoration plan for the state is circulating and approval is expected late this year or early next. Second, the US Forest Service recently approved the creation of a “bobwhite emphasis area” on the Vernon Unit of Calcasieu Ranger District of the 604,000-acre Kisatchie National Forest. Most of the Kisatchie is upland pine habitat ranging from shortleaf pine in the north to longleaf pine in the south. The primary management on these lands is timber harvests and prescribed fire. Approximately 121,000 acres are prescription burned each year. The Calcasieu Ranger District is in longleaf pine territory and is located in the heart of the Louisiana landscape with the highest potential for bobwhite habitat management as identified by NBCI 2.0, the national, landscape-level restoration plan. And it’s adjacent to the 105,000-acre Ft. Polk/ Vernon Wildlife Management Area, which has done some quail-friendly management too. It was, in fact, that decision, along with the demonstrated commitment to maximize early successional habitats through widespread prescribed fire historically, that prompted Louisiana’s Stafford to recommend Kisatchie National Forest for a 2014 NBCI National Fire Bird Conservation Award. “It has been a pleasure to work with the US Forest Service to replicate habitat conditions of days past when bobwhites were common. Our common goal is to see quail respond and show others that targeted wildlife management techniques still work,” said Stafford. Overall, the proposed quail emphasis area is a 10-year
Jonny Fryar, project author, places sign for the Bird Dog Training Area 18 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Typical Longleaf Stand, Kisatchie NF project, authored by USFS District Wildlife Biologist Jonny Fryar and blessed all the way up through the USFS Region 8 offices in Atlanta, GA. Longleaf pine timber in a portion of the designated area has already been marked for commercial thinning. Critically, the Forest Service has approved budgeting those sale receipts— and those from similar timber operations in the area—to be retained to fund the management activities required to create the quail habitat. In addition, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) is contributing $145,000 in “inkind” contributions, the Louisiana Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is contributing $30,000 worth of non-cash monitoring and $10,000 in “in-kind” contributions, and Tennessee Gas is making a $5,000 contribution of needed materials. Although the designated quail area is 9,242 acres, the majority of the management activity will be focused on a 1,200-1,300-acre core block of that landscape. That’s not enough to meet the 1,500-acre minimum for an official NBCI focal area under the new NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (see more on Page 12), but Stafford is optimistic that some additional thinning or other management activities in the surrounding management compartments will bring the acreage up. He’s also already talking to the Forest Service about a potential “reference area,” which would also be required for official participation in the national program. Among the planned habitat improvements affecting bobwhites include: • Commercial thinning of nearly 900 acres of longleaf pine; • Bush hogging on 200 acres of logging roads, wildlife openings and red cockaded woodpecker (RCW) clusters to prevent tree encroachment and create early successional habitat; • Creating 100 wildlife openings from .5 to 2 acres
for native warm-season grasses and wildlife food plantings (including wild plum for thickets) and maintaining those openings with bush hogging and/ or disking; • Removing the mid-story on 300 acres; • Fallow disking of 100 miles of fire lines, thicket perimeters and wildlife openings to encourage summer legumes and forbs; • Constructing 20 additional miles of permanent fire lines in order to increase the amount of small patch burning; • Prescribed burning of 3,741 acres, 1,247 acres at a time in 20-100 acre patches, on a three-year rotation; • Converting five miles of 60-foot-wide natural gas pipeline right-of-way from an area eroded by uncontrolled off-road vehicle access to a gated and fenced, restricted access area of native warm-season grasses and wildlife foods with fallow edges of briars and brambles; • Reclamation of an 80-acre wildlife opening known locally as “Dove Field” by clearing volunteer trees, disking and planting wildlife seed mixes and wild plum, although Stafford says “once we put a plow to it we’ll get a good crop of goat weed and partridge pea.” The area is managed as a bird dog training area by LDWF. Certainly, bobwhites aren’t the only beneficiaries of the project. NWTF has targeted it as one of their focal points for work in Louisiana because of its impact on turkeys. Even the prospective benefit of certain project elements to migrating
Dove Field, a fallow disk area monarch butterflies (it’s on their migration route) has attracted the support of the Louisiana Native Plant Society. The project also provides for red cockaded woodpecker work (400 new and/or replaced cavity inserts), erosion remediation and control of invasive plant species. And prescribed fire will reduce fire loads in the forest and the thinning of longleaf pine stands will improve forest health and reduce southern pine beetle risks. Lots of good things can come from managing for bobwhites. “Working closely with Forest Service Wildlife Supervisor Jason Nolde, our hope is to expand bobwhite focal areas to other ranger districts within Kisatchie,” concluded Stafford. (To read the Kisatchie National Forest’s entire project proposal, please go to http://goo.gl/u5iOYM.)
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 19
Kyker Bottoms WMA a ‘Little Donut Hole’ of Bobwhite Paradise … Surrounded by Fescue & Forest
t’s the middle of an August afternoon in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. From a ridge with an elevation of 875 feet above sea level, you can, in fact, see the Great Smoky Mountains and North Carolina. Temperature is in the low 90s.
Indigo buntings, blue grosbeaks, white-eyed vireos and yellow-breasted chats are about … but they are just four of the more than 200 bird species on record here. And no matter where you go you can’t avoid the sounds of multiple bobwhites calling. Here … in a “waterfowl refuge.” It’s a surprise … but it’s no fluke. This is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s (TWRA) Kyker Bottoms Waterfowl Refuge in Blount County. All 550 acres of it. In winter, TWRA floods roughly 125 of those acres with the waters of Nine Mile Creek for the benefit of waterfowl, with public viewing opportunities at the observation platform or in the permanent observation blinds on the property. Refuge manager Bill Smith manages the remainder for early successional habitat, and he has since he took the job when the refuge was created in the mid-1990s. He and Roger Applegate, the state’s quail coordinator, believe the area has the highest density of quail in the state, estimating one bird per acre … although they are just approaching the point of formal surveys. Applegate plans to use it to train other managers on what bobwhite habitat looks like, how it’s created and how it’s managed as the state begins to create larger, official focal areas for bobwhites based on selected state wildlife management areas. “This area had been row-cropped since the 1800s and in modern times converted to fescue pasture for cattle,” said Smith. “It was almost totally fescue pasture and closed canopy forest on the ridges.” Smith is an avid bobwhite enthusiast and the Tennessee winner of NBCI’s National Fire Bird Conservation Award for his management of this area and its importance in the state’s overall strategy.
20 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
“It’s primarily a waterfowl area, purchased with wetlands funds, so building levees and flooding was the first priority. Then I turned my attention to the upland portion and getting rid of exotics. I started burning and spraying, and haven’t stopped since.” Over the years, the exotics began to recede and native vegetation began to appear from the soil’s seed bank after decades of repression. “About everything quail need was already in the seedbank,” said Smith. That included common ragweed, broomsedge, partridge pea, beggar’s-lice, sumac, wild plum, rough-leaf dogwood, as well as other required shrubby components. And lately, Smith has expanded his focus to the closed canopy upland hardwoods, applying doses of both thinning and fire to begin creating hardwood savannas, forests with open canopies that let sunlight to the ground to allow native plants to flourish. The bobwhites have already noticed. He’s also experimented with native grasses (big bluestem) and with planting partridge pea and other selections for bobwhite food sources. He’s concluded the big bluestem is too big and his planting was too dense. So now he’s experimenting with disking and other means of disturbance for that area. “I’d love to be able to try some patch-burn grazing on this grass,” said Smith. (Patch-burn grazing refers to burning a different portion of a pasture or grassland each year. Cattle find
the young, tender sprouts of the burned area most attractive for grazing, which allows the remaining areas to develop more plant diversity.) He’s also learned he was wasting his time planting bobwhite foods. “I ran around planting all sorts of things until I learned from bird crop analysis that the quail were gorging on partridge pea and beggar-lice. Those are already abundant in the seed bank (even after all the fescue years). All I had to do is turn them loose.” Can an area this small provide hunting opportunities? TWRA tried opening it to small game hunting (rabbits are plentiful, too) for two weeks in 2000. Smith said he checked in 96 hunters during those two weeks. “It was like a WalMart parking lot. As soon as one truck with a dog crate left, another was waiting in line to pull in. The area and the bird population couldn’t stand that kind of pressure.” So, TWRA got creative. There is still a two-week season, November 1-15, but now it’s a “youth/adult” hunting opportunity. Each adult has to bring a youngster who is from six to 16 years of age. Either one or both may hunt. That has reduced the pressure and “allowed us to get kids outside,” said
Smith. “Just accomplishing that is a big deal these days. Most kids don’t know what a bobwhite is, much less what hunting for them is like.” And while the area truly is a waterfowl refuge and a waterfowl observer’s delight, the big observation platform at the public entrance to the area offers another dimension … it provides an expansive view of what bobwhite habitat really looks like to anyone interested. From a low ridge, Smith points out his residence nearby and around to the adjacent private lands encircling the refuge. “We’re just a little donut hole surrounded by fescue and forest…and I get to hear quail every morning.” (Kyker Bottoms Waterfowl Refuge is closed from Nov. 15-February 28, although the observation platform is still accessible to the public for viewing opportunities. It is approximately 30 miles south/southwest of Knoxville. Entrance address for the area is 1710 Big Gully Road, Maryville, TN.) For more about Kyker Bottoms from Bill Smith himself, please visit NBCI’s YouTube channel at http://www.youtube. com/user/BringBackBobwhites.
Left: Kyker Bottoms loaded with partridge pea Above: Prescribed fire will be used to improve this oak savanna under development State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 21
Mining for Quail
Kentucky Strikes ‘Bobwhite Gold’ at Old Coal Mine Northern bobwhite popula/on es/mate, Peabody WMA, 2009-‐13 Popula/on es/mate
entucky Department of Fish &Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) may be helping map a new frontier for northern bobwhite population recovery … the use of mined lands for development of productive early successional habitat for quail and the variety of other wildlife that require it.
4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0
Mined lands, both reclaimed and 2009 those scheduled for reclamation when mining ends, are scattered about the bobwhite’s range. Kentucky’s biologists are using this to their advantage to increase habitat for northern bobwhite. It was six years ago that the agency designated 23,000 acres of the Peabody Wildlife Management Area as one of its quail focal areas on the heels of “Road to Recovery: The Blueprint for Restoring the Northern Bobwhite in Kentucky.” (http:// bringbackbobwhites.org/strategy/nbci-2-0/doc_details/44kentucky-quail-plan) Peabody WMA was formerly a portion of the Peabody Coal Company’s surface mining operation in West Kentucky, supplying the Tennessee Valley Authority’s electrical generating plants with coal. Strip mining for coal had begun in this area in the 1930s, according to Eric Williams, project leader and one of the state’s focal area team leaders earning a 2014 NBCI National Fire Bird Conservation Award for their contributions to landscape scale bobwhite restoration. The majority of the landscape incorporated in the quail focal area was mined from the 1970s through the mid-1990s. The company’s reclamation consisted primarily of planting tall fescue, sericea lespedeza and autumn olive, as well as various tree species that would not have occurred naturally on that site. In the mid-1990s, The Conservation Fund purchased 33,274 acres of the property and donated it to KDFWR. Once the decision was made to designate Peabody as a quail focal area, the department decided to host a meeting of the region’s most prominent quail researchers and managers (2008) to conduct aerial and ground surveys of the area. The main issues included: • little-to-no-topsoil, most of which had been removed during the mining process, along with the seedbank of natives it surely harbored; • remaining soil heavily compacted by the massive machinery required to return the area to “original contour” as part of the reclamation process; • widespread coverage of invasive exotics, such as sericea lespedeza, tall fescue and autumn olive; • poor woody cover dispersion; • limited food sources;
22 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
• poor northern bobwhite habitat quality; • lack of knowledge regarding bobwhite demographics
on a reclaimed surface mine and the impact of hunters on that population. KDFWR launched a major habitat management effort in conjunction with a substantial research project led by Drs. Craig Harper and Pat Keyser from the University of Tennessee, which concentrated on bobwhite population dynamics, habitat selection, and the influence of habitat management. Over the past five years, management activities have focused on disking, prescribed fire, and sericea lespedeza control with herbicides. Disking is used to reduce density of planted native grasses and sericea lespedeza. “Block-disking has played a major role in habitat improvement on this area,” said Williams. “Block-disked areas range from 0.5 to 3 acres, depending on topography
Shrub Cover Critical! Above, arrangement and dispersion of high-quality shrub cover is critical to bobwhite survival throughout the year. Managers at Peabody are working to increase shrub cover throughout the WMA. Late Season Food Source Left, winged sumac is an important food source for bobs on Peabody WMA during the late winter and early spring when other seeds are no longer available.
and vegetative cover. Disking is designed to decrease density of planted native grasses and sericea lespedeza, and increase annual plant growth to enhance brood-rearing cover and food availability. Disking also promotes bare ground structure under a plant canopy, allowing broods to move about and feed on seeds and insects.” To date, they have disked more than 1,100 acres on the focal area, according to Williams. Disking also includes establishment and maintenance of firebreaks, which are planted to winter wheat in late summer. After the wheat matures, firebreaks are allowed to lay fallow where seed from the seedbank germinate and provide cover and food resources similar to disked blocks. It is very interesting that various plants occur in the soil on this surfacemined site. Woody cover, used by bobwhites for loafing, thermal protection and predator escape, was not well distributed, prompting managers to plant shrubs and allow succession to advance in areas where additional woody cover was needed. Maintaining early successional communities is a never ending chore on most landscapes. However, on a surfacemined site, succession advances much more slowly, which can be problematic when more shrub cover is needed. The biggest limiting factor for bobwhite at Peabody is coverage of sericea lespedeza, which provides no nutritional
Accomplishments Since August 2009 • Established more than 50 miles of firebreaks • Planted 1,800+ shrubs • Burned 1,773 acres, including woods to reduce tree density and canopy cover • Treated 437 acres of sericea lespedeza with herbicide • Disked 1,100 acres • Planted 850 acres in annual and perennial forbs, legumes and small grains
benefit for bobwhite and displaces more valuable plant species. Control of sericea requires continued herbicide applications and it is difficult to control sericea without reducing coverage of desirable forbs and shrubs. “We’ve made a substantial difference in the condition of bobwhite habitat here over the last five years,” said Williams. “Our management efforts have enabled the bobwhite population to increase and occupy areas that have seen little quail use historically. “The biggest challenge we face moving forward will be to continue the momentum and sustain interest of the public land hunting community by keeping funding, staffing and priorities aimed at furthering the bobwhite habitat improvement on Peabody WMA.”
Annual Forbs Respond to Disking Disking reduced density of native grasses (visible to the left) allowing common ragweed, daisy fleabane, and sumpweed to quickly colonize, providing food and cover for bobwhite broods in the summer and a source of seed into winter.
Research Previews Over the past four years, UT graduate students have captured and banded more than 2,000 bobwhites on the Peabody Bobwhite Focal Area. Birds were fitted with radio transmitters. A summary of what has been learned thus far includes: • The birds tend to select disked areas, especially firebreaks, in the summer and woody cover in the winter • Bobwhite avoid areas of dense, planted native grasses • Contrary to other studies on other areas, bobwhite survival on Peabody during the summer is lower than winter • Bobwhite on Peabody have an average home range size of 100 acres in the summer and 75 acres in the winter • Relatively low clutch sizes, hatchability, and re-nesting rate suggest bobwhite at Peabody are limited by available nutrition • Coverage of sericea lespedeza and dense native grasses limit coverage of desirable food plants • Bobwhites at Peabody are amazingly elusive when they encounter hunting dogs • The bobwhite population has increased following management Peabody WMA Hunting Opportunities in the Quail Focus Area • Homestead Unit—open under statewide regulations • Ken Unit—quota hunt only (apply in September at fw.ky.gov) • Sinclair Unit—open under special restrictions: Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays); 7:30 am to 3:00 pm; check-in and check-out required; bag limit is 8 quail per hunter. • The remainder of the WMA is open under statewide regulations.
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 23
Provide Major Boost for Bobwhites By Mike Black NBCI Forestry Coordinator
wo major national initiatives are underway supporting two native Southern yellow pine ecosystems—longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). Both provide for outstanding timber and wildlife habitat across most of the NBCI range. Under open savanna management— including plenty of sunlight and frequent prescribed fire—they can provide excellent habitat for wild bobwhites.
Vast forests of longleaf pine once covered 90 million acres from Texas all the way to coastal Virginia. By the 1990s these forests had greatly declined and only an estimated 3 million acres remained. A range-wide plan for the restoration of longleaf pine was born in 2009 with a goal of achieving a return to 8 million acres and to improve the condition of the forests as well through thinning and prescribed fire. The entire effort is referred to as America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative (ALRI) and a group of over 30 partners making up the Longleaf Partnership Council (LPC) came together to administer the effort in 2011. Much has been achieved already through vigorous funding efforts supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Southern Company, International Paper and federal agencies. Partners include NGOs, state forestry and wildlife agencies, universities, land trusts and many federal partners (organized under a Federal Coordinating Committee—FCC). In 2013, nearly 1.4 million acres of longleaf restoration work occurred including tree planting, prescribed burning and mid-story treatments. Over 15 Local Implementation Teams (LITs) oversee the work at the local level, focusing on public and private lands in Significant Geographic Areas (SGAs) to meet the early plan objectives. In just a few years the decades-long decline in longleaf forests has been reduced and the net acreage of longleaf has actually begun to increase. Findings from the 2013 Range-wide Accomplishment Report are being used by the Longleaf Partnership Council to focus efforts in the future on maintaining fire frequency and forest management on public lands, increasing efforts on planting, thinning and forest management on private lands and especially prompt a major increase in capacity and acreage of prescribed fire on all lands.
24 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Another species of Southern yellow pine—shortleaf—has received increasing attention as well in the last few years. Shortleaf is found in 22 of the 25 NBCI states, but the acreage of shortleaf forests is also a fraction of what it was historically. Back in 1915, shortleaf covered an estimated 440,000 square miles across nearly half the country, and was found in nearly pure stands as well as in mixed stands with numerous hardwood species. This was particularly true on poor and dry sites, and areas with frequent fire that favored shortleaf as a forest species component and shortleaf over other species of pine due to its vigorous re-sprouting following fire. Rangewide acreages are now down to about 6 million acres of shortleaf and shortleaf-oak on Forest Inventory Analysis data (FIA). Nearly two-thirds of this is located on the west side of the Mississippi River in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas. Realizing the tremendous potential that shortleaf forests could provide for timber production and wildlife habitat, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative (SPI) was begun formally in 2013 with a true grassroots effort of many forestry and wildlife professionals. With some very fortunate assistance, support and funding from the US Forest Service (USFS), a series of four workshops was held across the range to gather information and discuss opportunities and constraints for shortleaf management. This has been formatted into the basis for planning for the first ever Range-wide Strategic Plan for Shortleaf. The plan is set for release early this fall and will be under review from participants in the four workshops— Knoxville, TN; Roanoke, VA; Ft. Smith, AR; and Waretown, NJ. The NBCI 2.0 plan shows some of the greatest opportunity to restore wild bobwhites is in the pine forests where a quail-friendly understory has been developed through adequate thinning and frequent prescribed fire. This habitat development is very compatible with many of the forest and wildlife management objectives in both the Longleaf and Shortleaf Pine Initiatives, and is already showing promise and wide potential for the restoration of wild bobwhite quail on both public and private lands over almost the entire NBCI range. More information on these initiatives can be found at www.americaslongleaf.org and www.shortleafpine.org.
STATE CONSERVATION REPORTS
summary of state reports is listed below, including quail population and hunting, habitat, outreach, monitoring, research and partnerships. Current information on 2014 bobwhite population and hunting information is available on state agency websites, which are embedded in the online version of this report which will be posted on www.bringbackbobwhites.org, and state quail coordinator contact information can be found at the end of each report. As reported by state wildlife agency quail coordinators, aggressive and innovative management occurred in 2013, highlighted by a major increase in habitat management compared to the drought year of 2012. Habitat details are listed in state reports and most are numerated in the NBCI Inventory (Figures 1-4). •
Bobwhite populations: According to the most recently published data, typically for 2013, quail were increasing in many places because of mild weather and presence of suitable habitat. Georgia and Kentucky documented record quail populations in key management areas. Several states indicated this summer’s outlook was promising. On the other hand, drought and record low quail numbers still plagued some parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Aside from the recent short-term variability, many states reported long-term near record low statewide abundance as a result of inadequate habitat.
Bobwhite hunting: Most states reported long-term statewide hunting measurements near record low levels for number of hunters and harvest. Parts of states with plenty of habitat and mild weather, however, indicated good quail hunting, especially in Georgia and Kentucky. Pen-raised bobwhites continue to be used in abundance for dog training and quail hunting. Whereas many states report pen-raised bobwhites are the primary target for hunters, Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported a 310% increase in wild bobwhite harvest the last few years. New Jersey continued their statewide closure of wild bobwhite hunting, and Indiana split hunting into north and south zones. The number of quail hunters reported by coordinators (hunting wild and/or captive-released bobwhites) was by far highest in Kansas, 44,885; 10,000-21,000 in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas; 5,000-9,999 in Iowa, Mississippi and Virginia; 1,000-4,999 in Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; and <1,000 in Delaware and Maryland.
Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia updated their quail conservation plans and Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina appointed new quail coordinators.
Habitat national: U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill programs continued to lead potential bobwhite habitat (Inventory Figure 3), but states reported steep declines in program enrollment. Programs benefiting bobwhites include Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), CRP Mid-Contract Management, CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (including programs aimed at other species but also benefitting bobwhites, e.g., Attwater’s and Lesser Prairie-Chicken), CP-42 Pollinator Habitat, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Gopher Tortoise Working Lands For Wildlife Initiative and Voluntary Access Program, etc. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is using the Voluntary Access Program to increase landowner interest in habitat programs and public hunting access.
Outreach: New efforts included Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition and Missouri Small Game Prospects. Quail outreach continued in many forms, including featured web sites, blogs, newsletters, news releases, YouTube, Facebook, television features, exhibits, field seminars, classroom seminars, direct mail, etc.
Measurement of bobwhite abundance to evaluate management effectiveness: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia measured abundance in 2013.
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 25
Measurement of bobwhite abundance per NBCI Focal Area coordinated monitoring: Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia are participating, and planning began by state wildlife agencies in Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland and New Jersey. Partners working with the wildlife agencies include Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture in Oklahoma and Texas, Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma, Quail Forever in Missouri, Pheasants Forever in Nebraska and USFS Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.
Measurement of bobwhite abundance at large scales: Many state agencies continue regional and state-wide quail monitoring, often with key programs such as the USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey. Ohio Division of Wildlife developed a new spring roadside survey.
Research focus: Topics included aflatoxicosis in wildlife feed, quail behavior, USDA Conservation Reserve Program—Mid-Contract Management—CP-33—CP-38, quail disease, edge habitat manipulation, fire, quail genetics, grasslands, micro-climate, quail parasites, patch-burn grazing, quail population ecology, predator management, supplemental feeding, toxins (agriculture), quail translocation and wild strain parent-reared quail stocking.
Research locations and partners: Projects in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas included following partners: Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Center for Native Grasslands Management (University of Tennessee), Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Kansas State University, Kentucky Bluegrass Army Depot, Mississippi State University, Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit—University of Nebraska, North Carolina State University, North Texas Quail Corridor Initiative (University of North Texas), Quail-Tech Alliance Program (Texas Tech University), Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch, Southern Illinois University, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, Texas A&M University, The Ohio State University, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Georgia, University of Illinois and University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
Research peer-reviewed publications for wild bobwhites, in addition to Quail VII proceedings, in 2013, included the following partial list (lead author, location): L. Berkman et al. (IL), P. Blank (DE and MD), A. Crosby et al. (OK), L. Degroote et al. (FL), S. DeMaso et al. (TX), S. Ellis-Felege et al. (FL and GA), K. Evans et al. (MS, range-wide), T. Hefley et al. (NE), F. Hernandez et al. (TX, range-wide), A. Janke and R. Gates (OH), A. Janke et al. (OH), J. Martin et al. (FL), C. Moorman et al. (NC), J. Sands et al. (TX), M. Schnupp et al. (TX), J. Scott et al. (TX) and A. Tri et al. (TX).
Game bird organization partners: Included National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Coalition, Quail Forever/ Pheasants Forever, Park Cities Quail, and Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation.
Conservation partners: Included Alabama State Parks, American Bird Conservancy, Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Iowa Upland Game Advisory Group, Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichuaway, America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative, Nebraska Environmental Trust Foundation, Shaker Village, Shortleaf Pine Initiative and The Nature Conservancy.
Federal partners: Included Joint Ventures (e.g., Central Hardwoods, East Gulf Coastal Plain and Oaks and Prairies), Kentucky Bluegrass Army Depot, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), USFWS Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, USFWS Private Lands Partners Program, USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (State Wildlife Grants and Pittman-Robertson programs), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Defense and US Forest Service.
26 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Alabama—Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Population: Generally speaking, Alabama quail populations have continued to decline except on private plantations and private lands with the resources to manage intensively for wild quail. Hunting: From Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (AWFF) 2012-2013 hunter survey results, Alabama had an estimated 13,500 quail hunters who harvested approximately 389,400 wild and pen-raised birds. Only 11% of this harvest was wild birds. For hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) there was a total of 1,038 man-days of quail hunting with 755 wild quail harvested in 2011-2012. Management: AWFF continues to manage for quail with the following programs: • Continuing Longleaf Pine restoration on approximately 5,000 acres on Barbour WMA (see NBCI SOTB 2013 for story) and Fred T. Stimpson Sanctuary. Also, a prescribed burning program is in place on these two areas to restore grassland habitats. Shortleaf Pine restoration continues on 1,850 acres on AWFF and Forever Wild lands on Lauderdale and Freedom Hills WMAs. • The AWFF Landowner Incentive Program, Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration Initiative, continued with funds received from USFWS partnership funds for projects with private landowners in high priority areas. During the past year, 1,300 acres were restored and a prescribed burning program will be implemented on these projects for the next 30 years. • A monitoring program continues at Barbour WMA and Fred T. Stimpson Sanctuary to look at effects of longleaf restoration on quail and songbird populations. Monitoring also continues on Freedom Hills WMA shortleaf restoration and James D. Martin and Mud Creek WMA’s native warm-season grass areas. Both breeding bird surveys and fall covey counts are conducted annually on these properties to assess bird populations. • Alabama State Parks, in partnership with AWFF, is working with both Quail Forever and National Wild Turkey Federation on habitat projects at Wind Creek State Park consisting of longleaf pine restoration and enhancement of existing longleaf. • Reported 167,700 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1, 2, 4). State Quail Coordinator: Mark Sasser, email@example.com Arkansas—Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Population: Arkansas’ quail population has declined about 70% over the past 30 years. Hunting: Arkansas has an estimated 10,098 quail hunters. Management: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AFGC) continues to operate under a statewide quail plan and as a partner with NBCI. Quail management highlights include: · Management of about 6,200 acres of USDA CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds and 5,411 quail-friendly acres of grass in USDA CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement. · A continued effort to increase native warm-season grass on pastures through AGFC Acres for Wildlife Program. · Outreach seminars and workshops to the general public as well as agency professionals. · Partnered with other conservation organizations to establish more grassland habitats on several Wildlife Management Areas and an educational facility. · Reported 128,901 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1, 2). State Quail Coordinator: Clifton Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 27
Delaware—Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife Population: 2011 Delaware/USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) bobwhite abundance index was 0.0 bobwhite per route—the first time no bobwhite have been detected on any BBS routes in Delaware. Bobwhites have declined an average of 9.87% per year during the long-term period 1966-2012. This decline is even more pronounced when examining the most recent short-term, 11-year period (2002-2012), during which bobwhite declined an average of 18.97 per year. Hunting: Delaware’s 2012-2013 estimated harvest was 3,683 quail. Total estimated number of hunters was 384. Of note, estimated take of pen-raised, released birds comprised 98.8% of the estimated total harvest. Harvest of wild birds appears to be decreasing in recent years; in 2008 11% of the estimated quail harvest was comprised of wild birds. Management: Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) continues to operate as a partner with the NBCI. In addition, we are continuing a comprehensive planning effort to identify quail focus areas, where management and research efforts would be directed. Several important bobwhite management activities occurred in the last year: · DFW biologists completed intensive biological surveys in June and July to document the presence and distribution of bobwhite within potential focus areas and adjacent control areas. · Cedar Swamp Wildlife Area in New Castle County will likely serve as the first focus/demonstration area for bobwhite. A persistent population remains in this area. Nearly 1,500 acres of this 5,500 area are suitable quail habitat. Management activities in recent years have been focused on hedgerow establishment, field buffers, and invasive species removal. · DFW biologists will spend the next year defining a control area and sampling points using the guidance provided in the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program · In 2013, DFW enhanced and restored 133 acres of quail habitat on State Wildlife Areas through hedgerow creation, burning, brush control, and invasive species control. · Reported 1,589 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-4), including key partner contributions: 890 acres of selective timber cuts and thinning, invasive species control, and establishment of field buffers, by Delaware Wildlands;10 acres of clearing of pines and sweetgum to create early successional habitat patches, by The Nature Conservancy; and 326 acres of hardwood plantings and establishment of grass buffers and EQIP/AMA windbreaks, by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. State Quail Coordinator: Matt DiBona, Wildlife Biologist, email@example.com
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Delaware Total 1,589 Acres Managed 1,000
Acres Habitat Management
900 800 700 600 500 400 300
10 Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
DE State Agency & Partner Programs
28 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Farm Bill -‐ NRCS Delivered
The Nature Conservancy
Florida—Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Population: Florida’s bobwhite population has declined by approximately 82% since 1966. Hunting: Results from a 2012-2013 telephone survey indicate an estimated 10,863 hunters harvested roughly 186,588 bobwhites. For comparison, annual bobwhite harvest was 2.7 million birds in 1970. Management: Florida’s restoration and management of bobwhites continues to operate under a State Strategic Plan for Northern Bobwhite Restoration that is integrated with NBCI. Bobwhite management highlights include the following: · To advance Florida’s strategy, the Upland Ecosystem Restoration Project (UERP) was developed in 2006 as a cooperative effort between the state’s 4 primary land management agencies (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission [FWC], Florida Forest Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and US Forest Service) and Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy (TTRS). The primary objective of UERP is to prioritize, design, and implement on-the-ground management to improve populations of northern bobwhite and other grassland species on public lands throughout Florida. · Collectively, under UERP and other efforts, Florida has over 175,000 acres of total area of quail habitat on public land under favorable management for bobwhites and other grassland species. These public land areas are collectively managed by the four primary land management agencies (noted above). In addition, TTRS oversees 218,008 acres of total area of quail habitat on private land, as reported in NBCI State of the Bobwhite Report 2013. · Reported 261,729 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1, 2, 4). · Completed over 230 fall covey call counts on public land bobwhite focal areas. In addition, completed species and habitat monitoring for other fire-dependent grassland species on UERP focal areas. · Formalized the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition—a cooperative partnership between FWC, Georgia Department of Natural Resources—Wildlife Resources Division, Quail Forever (QF) and TTRS to enhance, promote and conserve quality habitat for northern bobwhite and to promote and support youth shooting sports programs and education. The goal is to raise funds (QF Chapters) to establish, manage and monitor bobwhite populations and habitat on public lands, and to increase youth shooting sports opportunities. · In the third year of a multi-year cooperative research project between FWC, TTRS, Mississippi State University and University of Georgia on the FWC Babcock-Webb Wildlife Management Area. The primary goal is to examine the effects of scale of fire on breeding season survival, reproduction, movements and post-burn survival. State Quail Coordinator: Greg Hagan, firstname.lastname@example.org
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Florida Total 261,729 Acres Managed 180,000
Acres Habitat Management
160,000 140,000 120,000 97,559
100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 -‐
665 Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land FL State Agency & Partner Programs
Tall Timbers Research StaEon & Land Conservancy
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 29
Georgia—Georgia Department of Natural Resources Population: Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR) statewide bobwhite population index has declined by more than 85% since 1966. Hunting: From 2009 to 2013, estimated bobwhite hunter numbers declined by 25% (16,226; ±1,011) and estimated bobwhite harvest declined by 55% (430,691; ±12,287). The proportion of pen-reared quail in the harvest declined by 45% (344,752; ±19,111), however, the wild bobwhite harvest increased 310% (85,940; ±14,972). Management: GADNR Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) bobwhite restoration efforts have transitioned from the initial phase of the Bobwhite Quail Initiative to the NBCI 2.0 step-down plan via Georgia’s BQI: 2013-2023 (BQI). The revised BQI was formally launched in November 2013 and targets restoration efforts into spatially explicit Focal Landscapes. An MOA was signed between WRD and 14 state, federal and non-governmental conservation partners agreeing to assist as feasible with BQI delivery. Other quail management highlights: · In 2013, BQI biologist’s provided technical guidance to landowners over an approximate 12,000 acres for habitat management on working farms and forests in Georgia’s Upper Coastal Plain. · Reported 423,077 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below, Figures 1-2, 4). · USDA Farm Bill programs providing grass, forb and shrub habitats include 200,000 acres in Conservation Reserve Program Longleaf, 2,222 acres in CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, 8,500 acres contracted (3,000 acres newly allocated) in CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Pine Savanna Restoration, and for the Gopher Tortoise Working Lands For Wildlife Initiative, during FY2013 completed 4,543 acres of longleaf planting and 3,762 acres of prescribed burning at a cost of $1.08 million. · WRD approved wild quail translocation permits for 5 private landowners who are working with Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy on intensive bobwhite habitat and population restoration. An additional out-of-state transfer is planned for the coming year. · Current research includes monitoring bobwhite population response to feeding and predator management at DiLane Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The bobwhite population reached an all-time high of 1bird/1.8 acres. · Georgia is one of the NBTC states piloting the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program. This includes Focal Area monitoring at Silver Lake and Chickasawhatchee WMAs and a reference area in Mitchell County. · In April 2014, WRD, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), Quail Forever and Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy signed a memorandum of agreement launching the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition to help fund bobwhite habitat management on public lands and youth shooting programs. Habitat funds will support bobwhite restoration on public lands in FWC and WRD quail initiatives. State Quail Coordinators: Reggie Thackston, email@example.com; James Tomberlin, firstname.lastname@example.org
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Georgia Total 423,077 Acres Managed 379,547
Acres Habitat Management
350,000 300,000 250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0
Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichuaway
GA State Agency & Partner Programs
30 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Tall Timbers Research StaIon and Land Conservancy
Illinois—Illinois Department of Natural Resources Population: Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) roadside counts for bobwhite are very similar to the North American Breeding Bird Survey protocol. In 2013, as reported in the Annual Status Report—Quail (2013), observers across Illinois recorded an average of 0.71 quail per stop and quail were recorded at 34.0% of the stops. Hunting: Harvest estimates are based upon results from the 2012-2013 Illinois Hunter Harvest Survey. As reported in the Annual Status Report—Quail (2013), an estimated 11,266 hunters (11.1% decrease from 2011-2012 season) harvested 47,175 wild quail (1.2% increase from 2011-2012 season). Quail hunters averaged 0.90 quail per trip. Management: IDNR continues to operate under a statewide Wildlife Action Plan in which quail are considered a species in greatest need of conservation and as a partner with NBCI. Quail management highlights include the following: · The USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is by far the greatest source of potential wildlife habitat in Illinois. Illinois has 925,480 acres of CRP, a 71,071 acre reduction from last year. For specific practices in 2013, 63,198 acres were enrolled under CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP33), 16,989 acres were enrolled under USDA CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) and 2,400 acres were enrolled under USDA CP-42 Pollinator Habitat. · Reported 30,906 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1-2). · Dr. Clayton Nielsen, Southern Illinois University, is completing final year of research on Effects of CRP Mid-contract Management in Northwestern Illinois and CP33 in Southern Illinois. · Dr. Mike Ward, University of Illinois, is leading research on the SAFE Program and its impact on grassland wildlife. State Quail Coordinator: Stan McTaggart, Agriculture and Grassland Wildlife Program Manager, email@example.com Indiana—Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife Population: Results of the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (IDFW) 2013 statewide bobwhite whistle count index indicate a significant 16.7% increase from 2012, climbing from 8.56 to 9.99 birds/route (15 stops). Though all 3 of Indiana’s bird conservation regions (BCR) experienced increases, only the Central Hardwoods BCR in southern Indiana has more than 15 bird/route (16.98). A severe winter across most of the state likely had a negative effect on the bobwhite population in 2014, though specific data to support this conclusion has yet to be collected. Hunting: The 2012-2013 Small Game Harvest Survey, comprised of 15,000 small game harvest questionnaires, had not been fully analyzed and published. Preliminary Data, subject to change, showed an estimated 10,412 bobwhite hunters (-31.0% vs. 2010-2011) harvested 19,992 bobwhites (+0.6% vs. 2010-2011). Harvest per hunter, reflecting population increases, was up 45.8%. Management: Within IDFW, the Private Lands Unit, Public Lands Unit, and Wildlife Science Unit are working to improve quail habitat and management. Highlights for Indiana quail include the following: · The Private Lands Unit continued working with landowners via the Habitat Incentive Program to create habitat in 11 Quail Habitat Priority Areas, adding 1,164 acres of habitat. · The Private Lands Unit added 62 acres of USDA CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP33) for a total enrollment of 13,930 acres and added 877 acres of bobwhite-specific USDA CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (CP38/ SAFE) for a total enrollment of 8,531 acres. The unit added an additional 5,685 acres of quail-friendly habitat through the ring-necked pheasant, Henslow’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, and American woodcock-specific CP38. The unit also added 7,305 usable acres through General and Continuous USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signups. NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Indiana Total 19,314 Acres Managed 7,000
Acres Habitat Management
3,000 2,000 1,164 1,000
Agency Private Agency Public Land Farm Bill -‐ CCRP Land
Farm Bill -‐ CP33
Farm Bill -‐ CRP
Farm Bill -‐ SAFE
Indiana State Agency & Partner Programs
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 31
The Public Lands Unit added 500 acres of new quail habitat (converted forest and fescue) and improved another 3,721 acres on 8 fish and wildlife areas using funds dedicated to their Early Successional Habitat Initiative. · Reported 19,314 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below, Figures 1-3). · The Wildlife Science Unit continues monitoring population trends and harvest, and researching the impacts of disturbance on northern bobwhite productivity and dispersal at Glendale FWA. The Wildlife Science Unit continues to evaluate its current population monitoring, with the option of moving toward NBCI coordinated population monitoring. · Bobwhite hunting season dates in Indiana are divided by interstate 74—north dates are November 1, 2014-December 15, 2014, with a bag limit of 4; south dates are November 1, 2014-January 10, 2015, with a bag limit of 8. State Quail Coordinator: Budd Veverka, Research Biologist, firstname.lastname@example.org ·
Iowa—Iowa Department of Natural Resources Population: Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) 2013 statewide bobwhite August roadside index of 0.4 quail per 30-mile route was unchanged from the 2012 index. This is 30% and 71% below the 10-year and long-term (50-years) averages, respectively. Hunting: During the 2012-2013 hunting season an estimated 8,769 hunters (down 7%) harvested 20,474 quail (up significantly) compared to 2011-2012 season. Management: IDNR manages bobwhite by partnering with multiple agencies, non-government organizations and private citizens, as well as the NBCI. Quail management highlights include the following: · Iowa continues participation in the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program with a focal area project that is leading evaluation of bird and habitat monitoring techniques. · To address concerns about low pheasant and quail populations the IDNR and state Pheasant/Quail Forever chapters have joined forces to enhance habitat on and around core wildlife properties. The Adopt-a-Wildlife Area Program has identified 39 priority sites with 10 sites likely to have quail as a priority focus. · Iowa has a 46,500-acre allocation of USDA CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP33), of which 25,148 acres have been enrolled. · Reported 19,175 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below, Figures 1-3). · Bobwhites are a species of conservation importance identified in the Iowa State Wildlife Action Plan. · The Iowa Upland Game Bird Advisory Group recommended that restoration activities for bobwhite should focus on habitat restoration and better landowner marketing. · USDA Voluntary Public Access funds are being used for the IDNR Habitat and Access Program to enroll CP33 and USDA CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement practices that will create quail habitat and will be open for public hunting. State Quail Coordinator: Todd Bogenschutz, email@example.com
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Iowa Total 19,175 Acres Managed 8,553
Acres Habitat Management
8,000 7,000 6,000
5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0
Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land IA State Agency & Partner Programs
32 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Farm Bill -‐ Pheasannts Forever Delivered
Kansas—Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Population: 2013 statewide bobwhite breeding abundance index was 24% below 2012 index and 19%, and 21% below previous 5-, and 10-averages, respectively. Hunting: 2012-2013 hunting season statistics (44,885 quail hunters harvested 199,661 bobwhites). Management: Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) continues to manage bobwhite throughout the state by partnering with multiple agencies, NGO and private citizens, as well as the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). Quail management highlights include the following: · In 2012, KDWPT designated 2 focus areas in eastern Kansas for bobwhite quail restoration, and is teaming with NBCI on these projects. To date habitat improvements have been completed or obligated on 1,001 acres of private land and 4,358 acres of public land within these areas. · Bobwhites are a species of conservation importance for both State Wildlife Grant and USDA program funding ranking process. · KDWPT continues to evaluate CP33 buffers throughout the state working with Kansas State University researchers. · A Hunting Access and Conservation Habitat (HACH) program was used to create incentives for long-term lease agreements through our existing Walk-In Hunting Access program on properties performing wildlife enhancements to CRP and CCRP. Currently access has been added to 39,671 acres through the program with nearly $800,000 left to commit. State Quail Coordinators: Jim Pitman, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jeff Prendergast, email@example.com Kentucky—Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources Population: According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) statewide mail carrier survey, the bobwhite population has declined by more than 73% since 1968. The 2013 index is 51.4% below our 1981 restoration target. A 57% increase in quail was observed between 2012 and 2013. Hunting: Hunting trips per hunter cooperator has increased 21% over the 5-year average. Hunter harvest has declined by 21% over the same period. Management: KDFWR continues to operate under a statewide Quail Plan and as a partner with the NBCI. Quail management highlights include the following: · The 6,000 acre Livingston County Quail Focus Area will serve as Kentucky’s first NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program focal area in a privately held landscape. · Reported 13,874 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1-2, 4). · In partnership with the University of Tennessee, researching patch-burn grazing in a pasture setting at the Bluegrass Army Depot in Central Kentucky. Grass stands are now well established and fencing and watering components will be completed in the coming year. · KDFWR Peabody Wildlife Management Area has demonstrated a 91.3% increase in their fall population over 5 years based on covey count data and this will be the final year of research. In this final year, work will focus on hunter success and bird dogs’ abilities to locate wild bobwhite. · Shaker Village fundraising hunts (highlighted by a new trophy whitetail hunt) continue to expand, generating nearly $42,000 for quail management on the property. Covey count numbers continue to hold steady at more than 50 coveys. · The Kentucky Bobwhite Battalion Facebook community increased to more than 2,200 members. · The Green River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program continues to be a tremendous success story with 101,500 acres restored over a 12-county area. Bobwhite and grassland birds have responded favorably, monitoring continues over 250 breeding bird monitoring points. The Hart County Quail Focus Area has demonstrated a 300% increase over a 5 year period. State Quail Coordinators: John Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Ben Robinson, email@example.com Louisiana—Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Population: The annual 2013 Bobwhite Whistle Survey combined results were significantly different from 2012. Quail whistles heard improved slightly but continue to be near the lowest numbers since the survey began in 1983. Hunting: The Big and Small Game Harvest Survey for 2012-2013 estimated that 1,100 persons hunted wild quail and bagged an estimated 8,200 quail. Management: The Department continues to work with private, corporate, and government landowners to improve quail habitat. Within the East Gulf Coastal Plain Prescribed Burn Initiative, 2,839 acres were prescribe burned. Through NRCS programs in 2013, an additional 1,800 acres were planted in Longleaf pine, 4,300 acres burned, and 40 acres planted in native grasses. · Worked with the NRCS, NWTF and other agencies to hold longleaf pine workshops for private landowners and land managers. · Continued planning a quail emphasis area on the Vernon Unit of the Kisatchie National Forest. In April, this quail emphasis area received final approval by the U. S. Forest Service. Trees to be thinned were marked for harvest this fall. · Continued quail habitat improvements at Sandy Hollow Wildlife Management Area (WMA). · Additional contract prescribed burning planned on other WMAs. State Quail Coordinator: Jimmy Stafford, Program Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 33
Maryland—Maryland Department of Natural Resources Population: The 2013 USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) estimates the Maryland statewide bobwhite population to be 42%, 69%, and 97% below the 5-, 10-, and 45-year averages, respectively. Bobwhite numbers declined more than 60% between the 2009 and 2010 surveys, likely due to severe winter weather. Some areas appear to have recovered fully since that time but others have not. The highest densities currently are found in the eastern region. Hunting: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR) 2012-2013 Annual Hunter Mail Survey estimated 730 quail hunters spent 1,800 days afield and harvested 1,476 wild quail. The survey only requests data on wild quail hunts but some pen-raised quail hunts are likely reported. Hunting participation and harvest has declined more than 95% since the mid1970s. Hunting of pen-raised quail remains popular but has not been quantified. Management: MD DNR continues to partner with NBCI, focusing quail restoration efforts on suitable public lands within the current quail range and on private lands via USDA Farm Bill programs. · Four MD DNR Wildlife Management Areas encompassing about 11,000 acres continue to be managed with a focus on quail and other early-successional species. Population monitoring via summer and/or fall surveys indicates stable or increasing quail numbers on most areas. · Interest and enrollment in USDA Farm Bill programs has generally declined in Maryland in recent years. However, approximately 36,000 acres are still currently enrolled in quail-friendly practices under the Conservation Reserve Program and 740 acres in CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds. · Reported 4,425 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1-4). · The designation of 1 or more habitat focus areas was planned for 2013, but funding levels did not allow full implementation. However, MD DNR staff has increased technical assistance, outreach, and monitoring efforts on private lands in the area despite the limited resources. · Numerous information packets were distributed and several habitat seminars were conducted. State Quail Coordinator: Bob Long, email@example.com Mississippi—Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Population: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) 2013 Wildlife Management Area (WMA) bobwhite abundance index was 44% below 2012 index. This was likely a function of weather and unavailable data for several areas rather than substantial population declines. Hunting: 2012-2013 hunting season statistics were above previous year, above previous 5-year average, and above previous10-year average. Management: The MDWFP continues to operate under a statewide quail plan and as a partner with NBCI. Quail management highlights include the following: • Continued promotion of Conservation Reserve Program, CP-38 quail and prairie and CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds practices. • Cooperated with conservation partners to implement quail-friendly habitat management via Mississippi Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Uplands, Prairie, and Longleaf Committees, State Wildlife Grants and Fire on the Forty Initiative. • Provided technical assistance on establishment and management of 1,100 acres of native grass and 700 acres of longleaf pine on private lands.
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Mississippi Total 18,050 Acres Managed 10,000
Acres Habitat Management
7,000 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0
400 Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
ConservaAon Reserve Program
MS State Agency & Partner Programs
34 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
700 NRCS Longleaf AllocaAon
Conducted quail-friendly forest and field management on 10 WMAs. Approximately 7,000 acres treated with prescribed burning, selective herbicide, and other practices. • Reported 18,050 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-3). • Continued monitoring quail abundance on public lands and 6 quail focus areas. • Continued education and outreach via public contacts, 2 game bird and prescribed fire workshops, website, Mississippi Outdoors Radio, TV and Magazine and Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks. State Quail Coordinators: Dave Godwin, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Rick Hamrick, email@example.com Missouri—Missouri Department of Conservation Population: The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) 2013 state bobwhite abundance index of 1.08 quail per 30-mile route was 9.2% below the 2012 index of 1.19. This is 37% below the 5-year average (2009-2013) and 57% below the 10-year average (20042013). Hunting: Quail harvest during the 2012-2013 season (tabulated every other year) is estimated at 100,894, which is 28% below the 20102011 harvest and 64% below the 10-year average. Hunter numbers are estimated to be 15,078, 18% below 2010-2011 and 49% lower than the 10 year average. Management: The Missouri updated quail management plan, Strategic Guidance for Northern Bobwhite Recovery, 2014-2024, is scheduled to be published in 2014. Quail management highlights in 2013 include the following: · MDC has organized a Quail and Small Game Task Force with Working Groups focused on habitat, population, outreach, focus areas, partners, and program review and assessment. · Under the revised recovery plan, MDC staff identified 26 private land Quail Focus Areas and 21 public land Quail Emphasis Areas in which to focus management efforts. These focus areas rank Medium or High using the Biologist Ranking Information process of NBCI 2.0. · Continued monitoring quail abundance on 19 public land Quail Emphasis Areas and 2 private land Focus Areas. · MDC continues participation in the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program with a focal area project in Carroll County. · Reported 370,079 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-4). · MDC staff continued a 5-year project to study reproductive success and population response to traditional management (crop strips, linear shrub rows, discreet patches of nesting cover) vs. a grassland landscape management model (extensive prairie community managed with fire and grazing). · Outreach efforts continued via a new Small Game Prospects resource, Covey Headquarters Newsletter, quail website, periodic MOre Quail blog, news items and public events. State Quail Coordinator: Scott Sudkamp, Small Game Coordinator, Scott.Sudkamp@mdc.mo.gov
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Missouri Total 370,079 Acres Managed 300,000
Acres Habitat Management
250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000 50,000 0
14,855 Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
Farm Bill -‐ Quail Forever Delivered
3,433 Farm Bill -‐ State Agency Delivered
Farm Bill -‐ USDA Delivered
Private Lands -‐ Quail & Upland Wildlife FederaLon Delivered
MO State Agency & Partner Programs
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 35
Nebraska—Nebraska Game & Parks Commission Population: The Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (NGPC) statewide abundance index from the 2013 Bobwhite Whistle Count survey was stable compared to 2012, with minor increases in indices of relative abundance in all regions except the West Platte. Data from the 2013 July Rural Mail Carrier survey indicated statewide indices were comparable with 2012, but were down 58% compared to the 20-year mean. Population decline is likely attributable to the impacts of the extreme drought of 2012, through direct effects on survival and production, and to indirect effects through habitat loss and degradation of suitability. Emergency haying and grazing on USDA Conservation Reserve Program lands was authorized in some Nebraska counties in 2013. Hunting: Data from the 2013-2014 season is not yet available. During the 2012-2013 bobwhite hunting season (27 October 2012-31 January 2013), 12,514 hunters harvested 36,519 bobwhites during 83,418 days afield. These figures were down compared to the 17,044 hunters (-27%) harvesting 62,824 bobwhites (-42%) during 113,763 days afield (-27%) the previous year. Management: NGPC continues to participate in the NBCI and to implement early successional habitat management on public lands for the benefit of bobwhites and other upland game species. Nebraska is also in the beginning stages of creating an NBCI Focal Area. A summary of habitat improvements and research follows: • As part of the Early Successional Habitat Initiative, 38,706 acres across the state were managed for the benefit of quail and pheasants, and other upland game. • As part of the Focus on Pheasants program, 2,338 acres were managed for upland game, including bobwhite, and 1,336 acres were managed for upland game through the Habitat Share program. • On private land, Farm Bill Biologists effected management activities beneficial to quail and pheasants on 28,162 acres. • Reported 70,542 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (Figures 1, 2). • A Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act funded study of the impacts of micro-climatic factors on the population dynamics of bobwhite in south-central Nebraska by the Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, University of Nebraska—Lincoln, is set to begin this fall. • NGPC received a $100,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Foundation that will fund private-land management incentives within the new NBCI Quail Focal Area. State Quail Coordinator: Dr. Jeffrey J. Lusk, Upland Game Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org New Jersey—New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish & Wildlife Population: One quail was heard on the USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey in 2013. By comparison, the mean number of quail heard per route was 0.0 in 2012, 0.1/route during 2008-2012, 0.2/route during 2003-2012 and 6.4/route during 1966-2012. Hunting: Wild quail hunting season closed September 2011. Hunting pen-raised birds permitted at two New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and on properly licensed shooting preserves. NJDEP hunting survey reveals continued quail hunting, mostly of released birds, but unpublished 2013-2014 hunting season statistics (4,601 quail hunters harvested an estimated 65,992 bobwhites; pen-raised—91% of total harvest) indicates possibility of wild quail harvest. Management: NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) continues to operate under a statewide quail plan and partner with
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 New Jersey Total 7,581 Acres Managed 3500 3,075 Acres Habitat Management
2500 2000 1500
1000 550 500 0
Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
NJ State Agency & Partner Programs
36 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
multiple agencies, non-government organizations (NGO) and private citizens. Quail management highlights include the following: · Following the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program, agency representatives from NJDFW Bureaus of Wildlife Management (BWM), Land Management (BLM) & Endangered and Nongame Species (ENSP) identified three southwestern counties as the State’s Focal Region for quail and other early succession grassland species, and delineated 4 Focal Landscapes. One Focal Landscape containing a large amount of public land may have 3-4 potentially suitable Focal Areas. Management plans favorable to grassland suite species on public lands within this Focal Landscape have been developed and work initiated. · NJDFW staff visited 24 interested landowners (14,000 acres owned) within the Focal Region and provided management plans. As a result of cooperative efforts involving sportsmen NGO and NJDFW, 2 sand mining companies and a local sewage authority within the Focal Region have initiated quail habitat restoration projects on approximately 400 acres. · Reported 7,581 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-3). · Quail in the Classroom (QIC) initiated in cooperation with the NJ Outdoor Alliance and the NJ Quail Project is now in 4th year with 20 participating school systems. Several hundred QIC birds are released at 4-5 months of age at various WMA dog training sites each year. State Quail Coordinator: Andrew W Burnett, Principal Biologist, email@example.com North Carolina—North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Population: The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) statewide spring bobwhite call survey was discontinued in 2013. Due to the continued loss of routes from suburban sprawl and declining quail habitat and abundance, the survey no longer fulfilled its original monitoring objectives at the statewide or regional level. Remaining route locations were no longer representative of the original landscape study design, and low counts no longer provided an adequate degree of precision to detect short-term trend changes. In the future, the US Geological Survey Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) will serve as the state’s primary quail monitoring reference. Hunting: Results from the 2012-2013 hunting season indicate a continued decline of quail hunters, quail hunting days, and covey flush rates (Avid Hunter Report). Management: NCWRC continued the early-successional habitat program, Cooperative Upland habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE), which focuses on multiple species and ecosystems. Quail management highlights include: · Management of a 4-county private lands focal area in southeastern North Carolina. Over 15,000 acres are enrolled, and quail populations are increasing or stable. On public lands, 4 CURE Game Lands provide approximately 10,000 quail-friendly acres. Agency staff also identified 23,000 and 43,000 acres, respectively, of private and Game Lands suitable quail habitat across the state. Other initiatives include agency biologists working closely with USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service staff in all 3 of North Carolina’s administrative regions. · Continued outreach via The Upland Gazette, covering early-successional species/habitats. · New cooperative research project with North Carolina State University, Expanding Knowledge about Northern Bobwhite Population Demographics in North Carolina. State Quail Coordinators: Mark D. Jones, Supervising Wildlife Biologist, Private Lands Program, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Ryan Myers, Surveys and Research Biologist, email@example.com Ohio—Ohio Department of Natural Resources Population: Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) 2013 statewide bobwhite abundance index was slightly above the 2012 index, with an average of 0.12 quail per stop heard on 64 routes in southern Ohio, each with 12 survey stops. Trend analysis indicates that Ohio’s bobwhite population declines at a rate of 9% annually. Quail were detected on 6% of survey stops. Hunting: Analyses of 2011-2012 hunter harvest surveys suggests that there are about 3,000 hunters pursuing bobwhites in Ohio, a 70% decline from 2010. Of those identifying themselves as quail hunters, 65% of hunters harvested no quail during the year, whereas about 5% of hunters report harvesting 10 or more quail each season. Ohio’s quail season is 24 days long in November. Management: ODNR quail management is included in grassland ecosystem management guided by a statewide Grassland Tactical Plan, revised in 2011. Quail management highlights include the following: · Establishment of 15,700 acres in USDA CP-33 Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds. · Collaboration with Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever and USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service to fund 6 Farm Bill Biologists who provide one-on-one consultation for habitat improvement on private lands across 22 of Ohio’s 88 counties. · Research will conclude this year for Ohio State University study of quail response to edge habitat manipulation in southwest Ohio. New research efforts from ODNR Division of Wildlife research office include development of new spring roadside survey routes. The new survey design replaces a survey conducted since 1984, and will include 400 routes distributed temporally across a 5-year panel. Time-removal analysis methods will be incorporated to estimate detection probabilities. Additionally, programmable, autonomous recording units will be investigated as a means for surveillance of quail populations by recording spring whistle calls as well as fall covey calls. State Quail Coordinator: Nathan Stricker, Nathan.Stricker@dnr.state.oh.us
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 37
Oklahoma—Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Population: The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) 2013 August quail roadside survey still showed a 78% decline from the 23-year average. The August survey yielded the third lowest results since the survey began in 1991. The severe drought of 2011 and 2012 likely hampered reproductive success. However, the summer of 2013 showed promise for the population. The state had a model year for rainfall and cooler temperatures, and populations increased slightly statewide, with a significant jump in the southwest part of the state. Good reports of birds, rain, and cooler temperatures are being reported in early summer 2014. Hunting: From 1986-2013, hunter numbers have declined by 87% (111,000to 14,187). The estimated number of quail harvested also decreased by 96% (2,700,000 to 116,719), but up slightly from last year. The numbers were higher due to the better reproductive success during the nesting season. Management: • Technical assistance is provided to private landowners on thousands of acres each year. • Reported 164,967 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-4). • ODWC has also initiated NBCI focal area protocol in south-central to north-central Oklahoma in partnership with Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture and Oklahoma State University. • ODWC has several research projects: • Cooperated in the disease-based Operation Idiopathic Decline project. Biological samples were taken from quail trapped on 10 ODWC Wildlife Management Areas and sent to multiple Texas universities for analysis. The final sampling session was in October 2013 and results should be released in the fall of 2014. • Partnered with Oklahoma State University to conduct research on two ODWC Wildlife Management Areas. Researchers are in the third field season for the quail population and habitat and arthropod availability approaches, and the second field season for the predator survey and aflatoxicosis approaches. • ODWC biologists recently revised the Oklahoma Quail Habitat Guide to be used as a technical assistance tool and for outreach. This guide was published in the May/June 2013 issue of the agency’s magazine Outdoor Oklahoma. State Quail Coordinator: Scott Cox, Upland Game Biologist, firstname.lastname@example.org
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Oklahoma Total 164,967 Acres Managed 90,000
Acres Habitat Management
80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0
602 Agency Private Land
56 Agency Public Land
OK State Agency & Partner Programs
38 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Oklahoma Partners for Wildlife
Pennsylvania—Pennsylvania Game Commission Population: Between 1966 and 2012 bobwhite populations declined by 9.1% annually. Between 2001 and 2012 the decline continued at 9.5% annually. The relative abundance index in 2002-2012 was 0.27 compared to 20.7 for the Eastern USA (USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey data 1966-2012; BBS). Because of the release of pen-reared bobwhites it is difficult to estimate the actual wild bobwhite population. The northern bobwhite is a Species of Greatest Conservation Concern in the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Wildlife Action Plan. The bobwhite may be extirpated as a wild breeding species in Pennsylvania. Hunting: In 2012-2013, hunting season was closed in 20 counties in south-central and southeast Pennsylvania. The remainder of the state was open with a daily bag limit of 4 and a possession limit of 8. The PGC does not raise and release bobwhite quail, but many sportsman clubs and shooting preserves raise and release bobwhites. Based on a survey of game bird propagators, we estimate that over 60,000 pen-reared bobwhites were released in 2012. Based on PGC Game Take Survey, 1,900 quail hunters harvested 817 bobwhites. This does not include harvest on regulated shooting preserves. We believe the majority, if not all of the harvest, is from pen-reared and released birds. Because of a small sample size, the confidence intervals for these mean estimates are large. Management: PGC and partners completed a detailed Breeding Bird Atlas in 2012. Northern Bobwhites were determined to be breeding in only 18 of over 4,000 survey blocks. A detailed analysis of all existing population data (e-bird, Breeding Bird Atlas, BBS, Christmas Bird Count, and survey of land managers throughout the state) was conducted by the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU). No locations in the state showed persistence of bobwhites in every decade since 1960. The data strongly suggest that the northern bobwhite, once common on farmland in the 1960’s, may be extirpated from the state. The PGC will conduct intensive surveys in the last known locations of bobwhites using a playback caller and territorial male and assembly calls in June-July 2014. A final report on bobwhite population status will be completed by PSU in August 2014. PGC completed a statewide quail plan and is a partner with NBCI. The plan does recommend identifying the best locations for restoration, the establishment of bobwhite focus areas, and reintroduction efforts, if necessary, to re-establish populations of this once native game bird. State Quail Coordinator: Scott R. Klinger, Wildlife Biologist, email@example.com South Carolina—South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Population: The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) 2013 statewide bobwhite population abundance index was 3% below the 2012 index and 57% below the long-term average. Hunting: Most recent information on statewide quail hunting (2005) indicated that approximately 6,500 quail hunters hunted approximately 29,000 days and harvested 59,470 wild quail. Average hunter success in the annual Quail Hunter Survey, most recently published for 2011-2012 hunting season, was 0.48 coveys per hour of hunting. Management: SCDNR has recently released a statewide quail management plan utilizing the tools and data contained in the NBCI 2.0. Quail management highlights for 2013 include: · Conducted a bobwhite summer brood survey for the 20th consecutive year. · Conducted fall covey counts on 6 SCDNR Wildlife Management Areas. · Conducted 2,762 acres of timber thinning for bobwhite habitat improvement on agency lands. · Conducted 33,812 acres of prescribed burning for bobwhite habitat improvement on agency lands. · Since 2006, SCDNR has cooperated with the USDA Forest Service and multiple other partners in developing habitat NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 South Carolina Total 72,998 Acres Managed 50,000
Acres Habitat Management
40,000 35,000 27,373
30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0
1,845 Agency Public Land
South Carolina Forestry Commission
US Forest Service
SC State Agency & Partner Programs
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 39
on the Indian Creek Wildlife Habitat Restoration Area. Over 3,000 acres of USFS lands are in the process of being restored to pine savanna. · Reported 72,998 acres of management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1, 4). · Maintained quail page on the SCDNR web site. State Quail Coordinator: Willie Simmons, SimmonsW@dnr.sc.gov Tennessee—Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Population: Tennessee’s quail population continues to decline. At present we have no population surveys. Hunting: No harvest estimate. Management: This year Tennessee was able to complete a formal quail plan as well as a formal quail operational plan. These plans connect to Tennessee’s new comprehensive plan focusing on early-successional habitats. The Tennessee quail plan is based on a focus and anchor concept where selected wildlife management areas (WMAs) serve as permanent anchors to provide quail production to populate surrounding private lands. There are 4 anchor WMAs selected for initial implementation. Each of these WMAs will be completing management plans that emphasize increase of quail populations. Private lands biologists will prepare a strategy to deliver quail habitat on lands adjoining the WMAs and ultimately radiating from those sites. State Quail Coordinator: Roger Applegate, Wildlife Population Biologist, firstname.lastname@example.org Texas—Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Population: According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) surveys, bobwhite populations have dramatically declined in recent years in prime areas, primarily due to long-term drought. Hunting: TPWD hunter numbers for 2012-2013 declined for the fifth year in a row, from 29,576 in the previous year to 20,831; estimated quail harvest decreased 54% from previous year (140,876). The small game hunter survey questionnaire has been changed to exclude pen-reared birds in the harvest estimate beginning in 2013. Management: Quail conservation efforts include the development of quail focal areas, as outlined by the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program, in 3 ecological regions, with the development of additional areas within the next year. TPWD quail management highlights include: • A grant program was developed to support upland game bird habitat projects in focal counties. TPWD received authority to spend $4 million of state funds (game bird stamp) for quail focus area development during. Projects are ongoing in present year with $2 million being put on the ground through 15 contracts with conservation partners. • Approximately 98,276 acres of quail habitat were developed on private lands and another 68,786 acres on public lands under the direction of state wildlife personnel. • Farm Bill habitat programs specific to quail were implemented on 52,974 acres in FY2013. Programs specific to other species, including Attwater’s and lesser prairie-chickens (USDA CP-38 State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, SAFE), have enrolled over 500,000 acres over the past several years with many secondary benefits to bobwhites. • Reported 220,036 acres of quail management for the NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below; Figures 1-4). • Current bobwhite research across several conservation entities and institutions includes monitoring bobwhite population response to habitat management at the cooperative and county scale; human dimensions; evaluation of wild quail translocation; evaluation of wild strained parent-reared stockings; potential disease, parasite and toxin impacts; quail genetics, dispersal, and productivity. State Quail Coordinator: Robert Perez, email@example.com NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Texas Total 220,036 Acres Managed 120,000
Acres Habitat Management
40,000 20,000 0
Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land TX State Agency & Partner Programs
40 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
USDA Farm Bill programs
Virginia—Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Population: Virginia’s quail population continues to decline in many areas, but some bright spots are noted and increases are being seen in key focus areas. Hunting: For the 2013-2014 hunting season, 36 avid quail hunters reported on 424 hunts. They found 557 coveys and averaged finding 1.3 coveys per hunt and a statewide average of 2.3 hours per covey find. Our latest hunter harvest and effort study separated pen-raised and wild bird harvest. A total of 104,072 quail were harvested, of which 18,888 were wild quail. Number of quail hunters increased slightly from 4.1 to 5.1 % of all licensed hunters. Management: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Quail Recovery Initiative is completed its 5th implementation year on June 30, 2014. VDGIF continues to partner with multiple agencies, non-government organizations and private citizens, as well as the NBCI. Quail management highlights for the past 5 years include: · Our 5 private lands wildlife biologists worked with 1,355 new contacts that collectively owned over 227,400 acres. · Staff activity included 1,965 site visits, 1,200 management plans written, and 916 outreach events. · Amelia and New Kent quail habitat demonstration projects progressing well, plans underway for interactive smart phone app self-guided tours. · Quail DVD Answering the Call widely distributed. · 330 tracts of land and 314 landowners in the Quail Management Assistance Program totaling 70,603 acres with 12,152 (15%) under some form of quail management. · $850,000 in wildlife Best Management Practices (BMPs) funding distributed to landowners for wildlife projects through FY 2013 (2014 numbers not final yet). · New forestry-related BMPs Memorandum of Understanding with Virginia Department of Forestry signed and program underway and revised offering cost-share for 8 wildlife-friendly forestry BMPs including prescribed fire—680 acres enrolled in 2 years. · Reported 54,657 acres of quail management for the 2013 NBCI Habitat Management Inventory (chart below, Figures 1-4) · Preparing for second year of June call counts and point habitat assessments per NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program monitoring protocol for focal areas. State Quail Coordinators: Marc Puckett, Small Game Project Leader, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Jay Howell, Small Game Project Leader, email@example.com NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Virginia Total 54,657 Acres Managed 47,954
Acres Habitat Management
45,000 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 -‐
Agency Private Land
Agency Public Land
Federal (U.S. Forest Service/ Department of Defense)
VA State Agency & Partner Programs
West Virginia—West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Population: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) does not have a statewide population estimate, but is in 5th year of Breeding Bird Atlas surveys (BBS). Recent BBS surveys indicate a 75% decline in survey blocks containing calling bobwhite males from the 1984-89 survey. Only 7.1% of the 424 quadrangles surveyed reported bobwhites and in approximately a third of those, surveyors may have been reporting pen reared-released bobwhites. Hunting: No current harvest estimate is available. Management: WVDNR has completed a statewide bobwhite management plan. This plan incorporates quail habitat management techniques and opportunities into our overarching Early Successional Habitat Management Plan for our wildlife management areas. Being a state that is 82% forested, we intend to focus most of our efforts on Young Forest Species. State Quail Coordinator: Keith Krantz, Keith.D.Krantz@wv.gov
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 41
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT INVENTORY INDEX 2013-14 NBCI Inventory is an index of the potential for bobwhite to occur, now or in the near future, as identified by the state’s quail coordinator. Major news in 2013, in both the Inventory and State Conservation Reports, is a rebound in amount of bobwhite habitat management compared to droughty 2012, a clear indication of the resolve of state wildlife agencies and conservation partners to perpetuate the species. INTRODUCTION This is the third annual NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Inventory (hereafter, Inventory), an index of habitat management over the past year as reported by state agency quail program coordinators. The Inventory fulfills part of the 2010 charge of the NBCI Management Board to document “all things being done to benefit bobwhites in each state.” The Inventory documents acres of management of plant succession (prescribed fire, disking, grazing, cutting, chemical application, etc.), planting vegetation and protecting vegetation (deferred grazing and haying, leaving crop residue, leaving standing crops, etc.). Inventory management is for the 2013 reporting year, ranging from July 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014, depending on state accounting systems. The Inventory is broken into 3 primary categories based on a combination of ownership, leadership and funding source: (1) State Agency Public Land, includes management on the wildlife agency’s land (Figures 1); (2) State Agency-Based Private Land, includes management on private lands that is funded, led or made possible by the wildlife agency, and is not reported in other private land categories (Figure 2); and (3) Farm Bill, includes acres managed under the USDA Farm Bill program (Figure 3). The Miscellaneous category (Figure 4) includes programs administered by agencies, organizations and institutions not included in Figures 1-3. Acres are only counted once across the 4 categories. Multiple management treatments on any one acre can be counted >1 time per year (e.g., burning, chemical treatment and planting 1 acre in same year equals 3 acres of habitat management), and >1 time within Farm Bill category among organizations and agencies (e.g., within Missouri, Quail Forever and US Department of Agriculture might have worked on the same acres and both claimed work on this acre). Does existence of habitat management mean that wild bobwhites can be expected under a particular program’s physical locations? Not necessarily. Inventory protocol for coordinators is that habitat is suitable for bobwhites in the reporting year, or will be in the near future. It can take several years after initial management for some habitats to become suitable for bobwhites, followed by a bobwhite population response. Bobwhites occupy, or increase in an area, based on survival and reproduction, which are affected by weather and other non-habitat factors, and by movement into an area, which is affected by distance to the area and habitat fragmentation. Further, as described in detail in 2012 and 2013 State of the Bobwhite reports, because of much variability among NBCI states and partners in ability to measure habitat, the NBCI Inventory is appropriately interpreted as an index of habitat management. As an index of the amount of habitat management beneficial to bobwhites, comparisons among years, states, partners and programs should be made cautiously. To better describe the amount of uncertainty in habitat data, coordinators grade their confidence in acreage they report by choosing among 6 levels of confidence (very confident, moderately confident, somewhat confident, neutral, somewhat uncertain, moderately uncertain and very uncertain). The highest confidence is often based on measurement of bobwhite abundance, and this aspect is a foundation of the NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program. Such detailed measurement, however, is not feasible at large scales, so the Inventory’s Coordinator confidence ratings provide a qualifier for expectations for bobwhite to occupy habitat and/or to be abundant. This is particularly useful for large areas where bobwhites were known to exist, and some kind of habitat program had been implemented, but there is no measurement of habitat quality (e.g., stage of plant succession) or actual bobwhite abundance. In summary, the NBCI Inventory is an index of the potential for bobwhite to occur, as identified by each state’s quail coordinator. As one state coordinator put it, “Although I classified my confidence as Very Uncertain because I lack data, I know those acres provide a great deal of benefit to bobwhites so I wanted to report something. Thus, I took a wild stab just so that practice would be identified as an important one in our state.” On the other hand, some states were conservative in what they reported, limiting acres to those enrolled in specific quail habitat programs with annual verification of compliance.
42 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
In addition to differences among states in capacity to collect data and reporting strategy (e.g., conservative or liberal inclusion of habitat management), some states were constrained in 2013 by other factors. Similar to previous years, quail coordinators for Pennsylvania Game Commission and West Virginia Division of Natural Resources believe that wild bobwhite population abundance was inadequate for responding to habitat management, and thus did not submit data. Per NBCI Inventory protocol, presence or potential presence (immigration or translocation) of wild bobwhite is a minimum criteria for claiming habitat management for an area. Other constraints affect participation in the Inventory. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is implementing a new quail plan in 2013 with increased capacity to capture habitat management. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission measures acres of usable quail habitat, but not annual acres of habitat management. RESULTS For 2013, 21 state agency coordinators reported 2,667,148 acres of bobwhite habitat management, a 65% increase from 2012 acreage of 1.616 million acres and 48% above 1.806 million acres reported in 2011. The number of participating states for 2013, 2012 and 2011 was 21, 22 and 19, respectively. Management in 2013 included 825,349 acres on state wildlife agency publicly-owned lands (State Agency Public Land Management, Figure 1), 307,281 acres on private lands through state wildlife agency efforts (State Agency-Based Private Land Management, Figure 2), 743,813 acres on private lands through the USDA Farm Bill (Private Land US Department of Agriculture Farm Bill, Figure 3), and 790,705 acres on public and private lands not reported in Figures 1-3, categorized as miscellaneous lands (Miscellaneous land, Figure 4). Across all 4 land categories acreage for the 21 reporting states was as follows: 167,700 (AL), 128,901 (AR), 1,589 (DE), 261,729 (FL), 423,077 (GA), 19,175 (IA), 30,906 (IL), 19,314 (IN), 607,068 (KS), 13,874 (KY), 10,479 (LA), 4,425 (MD), 370,079 (MO), 18,050 (MS), 70,542 (NE), 7,581 (NJ), 164,967 (OK), 72,998 (SC), 220,036 (TX) and 54,657 (VA). For 2013, a major decline in Farm Bill enrollment, and subsequently acreage of management, was offset by increases in other categories, particularly Agency Public Lands and Agency-Based Private Lands. Increased management in 2013 likely reflects recovery from the management-depressing effects of the 2012 drought. Across the NBCI range and among single programs, opportunity for quail habitat management continues to be led by provisions of the US Department of Agriculture Farm Bill, with 28%, 743,813 acres of the total 2.667 million acres. Other leading contributions were identified for Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy in Florida and Georgia, 543,052 acres, and the US Forest Service in Alabama and South Carolina, 140,773 acres. Considering contributions to quail habitat management within individual states, the Inventory was relatively high for the USDA Farm Bill in Kansas (524,288 acres) and Oklahoma (83,310 acres), for Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy in Georgia (379,547 acres) and Florida (163,505 acres), for State Agency work on private lands in Arkansas (116,411 acres) and Texas (98,276 acres), for State Agency Public lands in Missouri (264,178 acres) and Florida (97,559), and for US Forest Service in Alabama (113,400 acres). State Agency Public Land Management For 2013 management of state wildlife agency public lands, 20 state agencies reported 825,349 acres of bobwhite habitat management (Figure 1), an 80% increase over 0.46 million acres reported in 2012 and in 2011. State coordinator acreage reports (state, coordinator confidence) included the following: 53,000 (AL, moderately confident), 12,490 (AR, somewhat uncertain), 133 (DE, moderately confident), 97,559 (FL, moderately confident), 17,780 (GA, moderately confident), 8,553 (IA, moderately confident), 29,382 (IL, very uncertain), 4,221 (IN, very confident), 78,072 (KS, somewhat confident), 9,360 (KY, somewhat uncertain), 1,500 (LA, very confident), 2,080 (MD, neutral), 264,178 (MO, moderately confident), 7,250 (MS, very confident), 42,380 (NE, somewhat confident), 3,075 (NJ, moderately confident), 81,000 (OK, somewhat confident), 43,780 (SC, moderately confident), 68,786 (TX, somewhat confident) and 770 (VA, moderately confident). State Agency-Based Private Land Management For 2013 on private lands where management was based on state agency work, and not a part of the Farm Bill, 19 state agencies reported 307,281 acres of bobwhite habitat management (Figure 2), an 198% increase over 103,063 acres in 2012 and 124% greater than 137,309 acres in 2011. State coordinator acreage reports (state, coordinator confidence)
State of the Bobwhite 2014 â€˘ 43
included the following: 1,300 (AL, moderately confident), 116,411 (AR, somewhat uncertain), 230 (DE, moderately confident), 665 (FL, somewhat confident), 12,550 (GA, very confident), 5,911 (IA, moderately confident), 1,524 (IL, very uncertain), 1,164 (IN, moderately confident), 4,708 (KS, moderately confident), 4,159 (KY, somewhat uncertain), 2,839 (LA, moderately confident), 570 (MD, moderately confident), 14,855 (MO, very confident), 9,700 (MS, very confident), 28,162 (NE, somewhat confident), 2,800 (NJ, moderately confident), 602 (OK, moderately confident), 98,276 (TX, moderately confident) and 855 (VA, moderately confident). Private Land US Department of Agriculture Farm Bill For 2013 on private lands where management was based on USDA Farm Bill programs, 12 state agencies reported on 22 programs, practices and management delivered by partners, for a total 743,813 acres of bobwhite habitat management (Figure 3). Quail-friendly management via the Farm Bill program continued its decline from 959,064 and 1,207,957 acres reported in 2012 and 2011, respectively, a result of the 2012 drought and increasing crop value/ declining Farm Bill program enrollment. The decline from to 2011 to 2013 was 38%. State coordinator acreage reports (state, program/practice/delivery, coordinator confidence rating) included the following: 326 acres (DE, delivered by NRCS, moderately uncertain), 4,711 (IA, delivered by PF, moderately confident), 2,713 (IN, CCRP, moderately confident), 6,562 (IN, SAFE, very confident), 62 (IN, CP33, very confident), 4,592 (IN, CRP, somewhat confident), 13,929 (IN combined CCRP, SAFE, CP33, CRP), 241,520 (KS, EQIP, somewhat confident), 146,152 (KS, CRP, somewhat confident), 130,708 (KS, MCM, moderately uncertain), 5,908 (KS, CCRP, moderately confident), 524,288 (KS combined, EQIP, CRP, MCM, CCRP), 6,140 (LA, NRCS, moderately confident), 1,775 (MD, Farm Bill, neutral), 16,850 (MO, delivered by QF, very confident), 3,433 (MO, delivered by MDC, somewhat confident), 28,193 (MO, delivered by USDA, moderately confident), 48,476 (MO combined, QF, MDC, USDA), 700 (MS, NRCS Longleaf allocation, very confident), 400 (MS, CRP, very confident), 1,100 (MS combined, Longleaf, CRP), 1,156 (NJ, GRP, moderately confident), 550 (NJ, CRP, moderately confident), 1,706 (NJ combined, GRP, CRP), 83,310 (OK, Farm Bill, somewhat confident), 52,974 (TX, Farm Bill, moderately confident) and 5,078 acres (VA, EQIP, somewhat confident). Among states, Kansas reported by far the most quail-friendly management through USDA Farm Bill programs, followed by Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. Although general CRP acreage has declined considerably, states have worked with the USDA to increase focus on bobwhites and other wildlife in remaining practices. The USDA Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) was discontinued and not reported in this year’s Inventory, however, wildlife projects are now part of EQIP. Miscellaneous Land For 2013, 9 state agencies reported on 12 public and private land programs that contribute to quail management, for a total of 790,705 acres (Figure 4). The 2013 Miscellaneous land category builds on last year’s report by including Legacy Landscapes where habitat management is tracked annually (e.g., Table 1, 2013 State of the Bobwhite Report). On the other hand, total acreage of habitat as reported in 2013 for Legacy Landscapes will not be a regular part of the NBCI Inventory. State coordinator acreage reports (state, program/practice/delivery, coordinator confidence rating) included the following: 113,400 (AL, USFS, moderately confident), 890 (DE, Delaware Wildlands, very confident), 10 (DE, The Nature Conservancy, very confident), 163,505 (FL, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, very confident), 379,547 (GA, Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy, very confident), 13,200 (GA, Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichuaway, very confident), 355 (KY, Shaker Village, very confident), 42,570 (MO, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, moderately confident), 56 (OK, Oklahoma Partners for Wildlife, moderately confident), 27,373 (SC, US Forest Service, moderately confident), 1,845 (SC, South Carolina Forestry Commission, moderately confident) and 47,954 (VA, US Forest Service and Department of Defense, somewhat confident). CONCLUSION In the third year of the NBCI State Agency Habitat Management Inventory Index the majority of states contributed data. State coordinators are encouraged to include key contributions to bobwhite habitat management, and whether the area is 10 or 100,000 acres, there is potential for bobwhites to benefit, and partners are being recognized in a national forum.
44 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
Major news in 2013, in both the Inventory and State Conservation Reports, is a rebound in amount of bobwhite habitat management compared to droughty 2012, a clear indication of the resolve of state wildlife agencies and conservation partners to perpetuate the species. Despite increased habitat management, near record low bobwhite populations and hunting were reported by many states, partly a result of recent severe weather. Although bobwhite populations have the capacity for rapid recovery from severe weather, because of intensive land-use (e.g., CRP conversion to crop land) and advancing plant succession the trend has been for bobwhites to become extirpated at local, and some cases, large portions of some states. Habitat fragmentation reduces the potential for bobwhites to move into some Inventory habitats, and in worst case scenarios, uncertainty about wild bobwhite distribution at state-wide scales, in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, precluded participation in the Inventory because bobwhites are likely not available for re-population. For areas where bobwhite exist, but are sparse, re-population could take several years. Frequent or prolonged severe weather reduces state coordinator confidence in potential benefits of habitat management, forcing hard decisions about whether or not to include some habitat management in the NBCI Inventory. Data collected by state wildlife agencies and partners—hunter surveys, small- and large-scale bobwhite monitoring and research, NBCI Focal Area monitoring, USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey—provide essential information for coordinators to interpret the extent to which bobwhites are recovering. According to many state conservation reports and social media, improved weather points to a potential multi-year bobwhite population up-tick—this could provide the latest benchmark on the trajectory of bobwhite populations.
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 State Agency Public Land Total 825,349 Acres
IN KS KY LA MD MO MS NE NJ OK SC TX VA
AL AR DE FL GA IA
Annual Acres Habitat Management
20 ReporUng State Agencies
Figure 1. NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Management Index for 20 state public land programs. Index is acres of habitat managed by prescribed fire, disking, grazing, spraying herbicide, cutting, planting, etc., during the reporting year (ranging from July 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014). Multiple management treatments on any one acre can be counted >1 time per reporting year (e.g., burning, spraying and planting 1 acre in same year equals 3 acres of habitat management).
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 45
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 State Agency Private Land
LA MD MO MS NE
130,000 120,000 110,000 100,000 90,000 80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0
Annual Acres Habitat Management
Total 307,281 Acres
19 ReporVng State Agencies
Figure 2. NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Management Index for 19 state private land programs. Index is acres of habitat managed by prescribed fire, disking, grazing, spraying herbicide, cutting, planting, etc., during the reporting year (ranging from July 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014). Multiple management treatments on any one acre can be counted >1 time per year (e.g., burning, spraying and planting 1 acre in same year equals 3 acres of habitat management). NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Private Land USDA Farm Bill Total 743,813 Acres
Annual Acres Habitat Management
s s C P P P B IP A FE 33 FB RP RP AF CRP GRP CRP K FB X FB FB gist ist MD CM QI CR LA F CR D SD GLE EQ CP IN C CC N SA T o og J O J S S E M A U B KS KS M KS C N N N N I ol ol K I F I N B V M i i F O O B F B O M S L PF Q M M FB FB A O I M DE
22 State Reported Farm Bill Programs & PracTces
Figure 3. NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Management Index for 22 US Department of Agriculture Farm Bill funded programs. Index is acres of habitat managed by prescribed fire, disking, spraying herbicide, cutting, planting, etc., during the reporting year (ranging from July 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013). Multiple management treatments on any one acre can be counted >1 time per year (e.g., burning, spraying and planting 1 acre in same year equals 3 acres of habitat management). Similarly, there could be overlap among partner programs within a state. Acronyms: CCRP-Continuous Conservation Reserve Program, CRP-Conservation Reserve Program, CP33-Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds, EQIP-Environmental Quality Incentives Program, FB-Farm Bill (CCRP, CRP, EQIP, GRP, MCM, etc.), GRP-Grassland Reserve Program, Longleaf (allocation by USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service for longleaf pine restoration and management), MCM-Conservation Reserve Program Mid-Contract Management, MO—program delivery by MDC (Missouri Department Conservation), QF Biologists (Quail Forever) and USDA (US Department of Agriculture), PF BiologistsPheasants Forever delivered and SAFE-Conservation Reserve Program State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (CP-38).
46 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
400,000 350,000 300,000 250,000
Annual Acres Habitat Management
NBCI STATE AGENCY BOBWHITE HABITAT MANAGEMENT INVENTORY INDEX 2013 Miscellaneous Ownership Total 790,705 Acres
c c c te te te te te te te te bli bli bli u u u iva iva iva iva iva iva iva iva r r r r r r r r P P P P P P P P P S S P n P fe OD ion cy ds LC LC ay SF ge SF i o s l n a n D U U [ s w l & & a a il la ild va mi SC AL er S & ild er hu RS RS r V W d m F s c s s r e I e S o r r W n k o t e e f U o F C a e A rs ar C a mb mb e C try life Sh V e i i r R s w d Y n T T l l u i K re a rt ll ll ela at W gic Fo D N Ta Ta Pa d o C E L e K l A n S F D O G la co Th Up s E DE e n & ail Jo u A Q G O M
Figure 4. NBCI State Agency Bobwhite Habitat Management Index for miscellaneous public and private lands. Acronyms: DOD (US Department of Defense), LC (Land Conservancy), RC (Research Center), RS (Research Station) and USFS (US Forest Service).
State of the Bobwhite 2014 • 47
NBCI STATE AGENCIES Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Arkansas Game & Fish Commission Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Georgia Department of Natural Resources Illinois Department of Natural Resources Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife Iowa Department of Natural Resources Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Maryland Department of Natural Resources Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Missouri Department of Conservation Nebraska Game & Parks Commission New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Ohio Department of Natural Resources Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Pennsylvania Game Commission South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
ACRONYMS BBS – USGS North American Breeding Bird Survey CP – Conservation Practice (as used in the Conservation Reserve Program) CP33 – Habitat buffers for upland birds CRP CP38 – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, SAFE CRP – Conservation Reserve Program DNR – Department of Natural Resources EQIP - Environmental Quality Incentives Program NBCI – National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative NBTC – National Bobwhite Technical Committee NFWF – National Fish and Wildlife Foundation NGO – Non-Governmental Organization USDA NRCS – Natural Resources Conservation Service SAFE – State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement, CP38 USDA – United States Department of Agriculture VPA-HIP – Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program WHIP – Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program WMA – Wildlife Management Area
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48 • NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac
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The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified range-wide strategy of 25 state wildlife agencies, with numerous conserv...
Published on Oct 10, 2014
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the unified range-wide strategy of 25 state wildlife agencies, with numerous conserv...