New Report Indicates Bobwhite Quail at a Crossroads in South Carolina
Declaring that conservation efforts on behalf of bobwhite quail and other native grasslands birds are "far inadequate" to stop their decline in the U.S., a national coalition of 25 state wildlife agencies, including the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), has issued a new situation assessment and a call for decisive action. The report was unveiled at the annual conference of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.
Bobwhite quail populations have plummeted as much as 80 percent over the past half century by some estimates, while entire suites of songbirds that depend on the same habitat of native grasslands and shrublands have recorded similar declines.
According to the first ever "State of the Bobwhite: Grassland Conservation at a Crossroads" report, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) and the NBCI Management Board, comprised of wildlife agency directors and private conservation leaders, say the following actions are required over the next 12 months as initial steps to recovering quail and other grassland species.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture should "step up to the plate" to become a more positive force in the restoration of native grasslands and bobwhite quail, specifically by adopting a policy making native plant species, instead of aggressive exotics that provide poor habitat, the first choice when the department subsidizes with public money plantings on private lands.
- All individuals should join a native grassland habitat-related conservation organization immediately, whether the group emphasizes quail, turkey or songbirds.
- All individual quail and grassland wildlife enthusiasts should also support their respective state's quail management efforts by calling the state quail coordinator and offering personal involvement, political connections or financial support.
- Individuals need to communicate to their Congressional delegation the need to support Farm Bill conservation programs.
The 37-page State of the Bobwhite is the first-ever coordinated attempt to assess state-by-state the status of bobwhite populations, hunting activity and conservation efforts across all 25 member states of the NBCI. Bobwhite numbers continue to decline, but the report does highlight a number of positive actions at the state level. Examples include:
- Notable public outreach programs are underway in Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
- Bobwhites have been included in efforts aimed at increasing wildlife diversity through ecosystem restoration in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
A list of highlights from DNR's conservation efforts:
- Since 2006, DNR has cooperated with the USDA Forest Service and multiple other partners in developing habitat on the Indian Creek Wildlife Habitat Restoration Area. Over 2000 acres of National Forest lands are in the process of being restored to pine savanna.
- Over 7,000 acres of state lands are being managed for bobwhites and grassland birds through a State Wildlife Grant.
- USDA Farm Bill habitats include over 5,000 acres in CP333 buffers and approximately 600 acres in CP38 (SAFE4).
- One Wild Quail Management Seminar was conducted for 29 private landowners and resource professionals.
Find out more about quail hunting in South Carolina.