HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Game Commission is seeking public input on a draft northern bobwhite quail management plan, which can be reviewed on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on the “Draft Quail Management Plan” icon under the large photo in the center of the homepage.

Public comments on the agency’s quail management plan will be accepted until Sept. 1, via the website or by mail to: Quail Management Plan, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

“We are seeking public comment on this draft bobwhite quail management plan to ensure the resulting final management plan considers the thoughts and concerns of Pennsylvanians about this species,” said Calvin W. DuBrock, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Management director. “As written, the plan is science-based, progressive and promotes responsible management of bobwhite quail. We’re interested in hearing from Pennsylvanians who would like to offer comments, and to see if we’ve missed something or if they share our management vision for the future.”

The mission of the bobwhite quail management plan is to maintain and restore wild breeding populations of Northern Bobwhite Quail in suitable habitats.

“Drafted by staff of the agency’s Game Bird Section, this plan will require the support of Pennsylvania hunters and all Pennsylvanians,” DuBrock said. “Most importantly, it will require working with farmers, private landowners, and public landowners, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and other conservation partners to restore farmland ecosystems to accommodate bobwhites.”

The plan identifies supporting goals, objectives and strategies for guiding restoration and management decisions over a 10-year horizon, 2011-2020. This plan provides a comprehensive look at the bobwhite quail in Pennsylvania. Information on taxonomy, biology, habitat relationships, population and habitat trends, propagation, hunting, restoration and partnerships are discussed in detail. The most important part of this plan outlines the management goals, objectives and strategies and a proposed implementation schedule.

There are six strategic goals identified in the plan:

  • Determine the current distribution, population status and trends of bobwhite quail in the state, and protect any residual wild populations;
  • Determine the amount and type of habitat found where bobwhites exist in the state and call for maintaining and enhancing the quality and quantity of quail habitat within Bobwhite Quail Focus Areas (BQFAs), which will be similar to the strategy used for Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas outlined in the Pheasant Management Plan;
  • Create partnerships to achieve habitat targets in BQFAs, focusing on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, landowner cooperators and other partners;
  • Assess baseline bobwhite quail populations on BQFAs, develop and implement protocols for establishing wild populations on BQFAs through the trap-and-transfer of wild quail, and then monitor the populations to determine whether they are self-sustaining;
  • Assess public knowledge and attitudes about bobwhites and their recovery and inform the public about recovery activities; and
  • Lay the groundwork to eventually increase bobwhite quail populations and distribution to all identified suitable habitat.

The northern bobwhite quail is one of the most popular game birds in North America. Its native range at one time included most of the eastern United States north to southern Maine, southern New York, southern Ontario, central Wisconsin and south central Minnesota, west to very southeastern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, eastern New Mexico, and eastern Mexico south to Chiapas. Since the mid 1960s, the bobwhite’s range and populations have declined dramatically. Northern bobwhites were relatively common across southern Pennsylvania farmland and brush lands until about 1945. Populations declined rapidly between 1945-55, but made a recovery in the early 1960s. Since 1966, the range and populations of bobwhites have declined to the point that most counties in the commonwealth no longer have bobwhites as a breeding species. It currently is listed as a species of special concern in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s State Wildlife Action Plan

For more information about the northern bobwhite quail, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and put your cursor on “Wildlife” in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Wildlife Notes” and then click on “Bobwhite Quail” in the alphabetical listings.

Jerry Feaser

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