There was a major increase in bobwhite habitat management by the states in 2013 over the previous drought year and the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) was approved for funding from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program. These are but two of the subjects detailed in the newNBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac, State of the Bobwhite 2014, the digital version of which is available on NBCI’s website at www.bringbackbobwhites.org.
Additional topics include the positive impact on bobwhites of two national pine (longleaf and shortleaf) forest restoration initiatives, the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s ability to create four bobwhite focal areas in one the nation’s smallest, most densely populated states, the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a bobwhite emphasis area in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana and the designation of South Texas as the nation’s first “legacy landscape for bobwhite conservation.”
“There are so many things moving in the right direction now,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “States have shown their commitment by increasing their habitat management efforts and now by stepping up to actually fully fund NBCI through Pittman-Robertson or other sources. The states’ support will allow us to fill some critically-needed positions, including a grasslands coordinator and national bobwhite database manager that we’ve needed in order to push progress in key ways.”
McKenzie says it’s important to note that NBCI doesn’t duplicate the states’ efforts, but works at regional and national levels to identify opportunities and remove obstacles for bobwhite restoration at those levels, something individual states working alone cannot do.
“If fact, I believe we will be able to report success on one of those major ‘opportunities’ very soon,” McKenzie said.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Support for NBCI is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, state wildlife agencies, the University of Tennessee and Park Cities Quail. For more information, please visit www.bringbackbobwhites.org,
The contributions to wild bobwhite restoration by entities and/or individuals in six states claimed the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative’s (NBCI) National Fire Bird Conservation Awards during ceremonies at the annual meeting of the nation’s bobwhite experts in Iowa recently. Award recipients are chosen by the respective NBCI-member state’s quail coordinator for their contributions to that state’s efforts toward habitat-based restoration of wild bobwhite populations.
“We wanted to provide an avenue for states to recognize and thank those making meaningful contributions to their science-based restoration agendas, illustrate the variety of those contributing to the bobwhite restoration cause and perhaps help encourage others to join in,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “We need as many individuals, agencies and organizations as possible actively contributing to this unified 25-state strategy.”
The award’s name symbolizes the historic reliance of bobwhites on fire in much of its range to maintain the landscape in an “early successional” stage, that is, in the native grasses, wildflowers and “weeds” providing bobwhites with suitable habitat. Both wildfires and fires intentionally set by landowners to clear farm fields and woodlots historically resulted in abundant habitat for bobwhites, as well as numerous other wildlife species. The term “fire bird” in relation to bobwhites was first coined by naturalist Herbert Stoddard, who researched bobwhites and worked to restore bobwhite habitat in the early 20th Century.
Today, “prescribed” fire under controlled conditions by trained professionals has become an increasingly important tool for helping create and manage habitat for bobwhites, as well as a suite of songbirds and other wildlife that require early successional habitat to survive.
2014 award 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)
“Despite landscape and site limitations, management has produced an excellent bobwhite population and public land quail hunting,” wrote Reggie Thackston, Georgia quail coordinator. “The success at Di-Lane has been widely acclaimed and is stimulating strong interest and support for bobwhite management on public and private lands; and thereby contributes greatly to the Wildlife Resources Division’s efforts in attaining NBCI goals.”
KENTUCKY: Team Leaders, “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)
“As a group, they have put KY’s bobwhite restoration effort on the national map,” wrote Kentucky’s quail coordinator, John Morgan. Kentucky reported a 57% increase in bobwhites observed in its annual statewide mail carrier surveys between 2012 and 2013, the Peabody WMA has demonstrated a 91% increase in its fall bobwhite population over five years, the Shaker Village project is holding steady with 50 coveys of bobwhites, and the Hart County Quail Focus area has demonstrated a 771% increase in bobwhites from 2008-2012, while the Bluegrass Army Depot Focus Area registered a 57% increase during the same period.
LOUISIANA: U.S. Forest Service, Kisatchie National Forest
The U.S. Forest Service recently approved the creation of a new Bobwhite Emphasis Area in the Vernon Unit of the Calcasieu Ranger District of Kisatchie National Forest. Explained Louisiana’s quail coordinator, Jimmy Stafford, “The U. S. Forest Service manages some 604,000 acres in Louisiana known as the Kisatchie National Forest. Most of Kisatchie N.F. 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 prescribed burned each year. The Forest Service has demonstrated its commitment to maximize early successional habitats through widespread prescribed fire … and have also eagerly joined with state quail biologists to identify ways to further improve habitats for bobwhites.”
SOUTH CAROLINA: Mark Coleman, Spartanburg
According to South Carolina’s quail coordinator, Willie Simmons: “As a private citizen, Mark Coleman has been a cooperator in SCDNR’s Quail Hunter Survey for over 15 years. During that time, he has maintained constant contact with the Small Game Project Supervisor offering assistance with projects and initiatives.
“Mark is a staunch supporter of SCDNR and of scientific wildlife management in general. Following publication of the NBCI 2.0 (in 2011), Mark was one of the few quail hunters, if not the only one in South Carolina, to embrace the new planning paradigm, openly and wholehearted supporting the plan in conversations with other bird hunters and in various public forums…
“Through conversations with the SCDNR Small Game Project Supervisor and with NBCI Director Don McKenzie, Mark heeded the call to action from the initial State of the Bobwhite report and immediately engaged policy makers in South Carolina. He personally appeared before the SCDNR Board to request and promote wild bobwhite management in South Carolina.
“Although he is far too modest to accept any credit or praise, he was directly responsible for renewed emphasis and urgency on completion of South Carolina’s statewide quail restoration plan. He continues to this day to offer financial and logistic support for establishment of a statewide quail council, the next step in implementation of the South Carolina plan.”
TENNESSEE: Bill Smith, TWRA
From Tennessee’s quail coordinator, Dr. Roger Applegate: “Bill manages Kyker Bottoms Refuge and Foothills Wildlife Management Area in eastern Tennessee. Kyker Bottoms is 525 acres of true early-successional habitat that likely produces the best bobwhite population in Tennessee. Bill manages this habitat as old field and is a one-man show. He also permits a very conservative hunting opportunity on a quality bobwhite resource. Bill is an example to other land managers in Tennessee and other states by providing the habitat that bobwhite evolved in.”
p style=”text-align: center;”>VIRGINIA: The Virginia Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech
Wrote bobwhite coordinators Marc Puckett and Jay Howell: “They are two legs of the 3-legged stool that supports our private lands quail recovery program… While we have many valued partners, without which our quail plan would be much less effective, the two recognized in this nomination are the backbone of the program.” Cited was the comprehensive support of the two organizations in the recruiting, hiring, paying and administratively supporting the state’s team of private lands biologists working to restore bobwhites on private lands in Virginia.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, NBCI is an initiative of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a coordinated, range-wide leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of 25 state wildlife agencies, various academic research institutions and private conservation organizations. Funds for NBCI are provided from a variety of sources, including the respective state wildlife agencies, the Wildlife Restoration Program, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Park Cities Quail
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The authoritative organization of the nation’s bobwhite experts honored the chief of wildlife for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and a bird conservation joint venture for their respective contributions to the restoration of northern bobwhites in their annual meeting here recently.
The National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) presented its annual Award for Individual Achievement to Billy Dukes, who has spent more than 20 years actively involved in the bobwhite effort. South Carolina’s new chief of wildlife, Dukes began his career as a staff biologist working with the Fur Resources Project and the Small Game Project, eventually becoming supervisor of the Small Game Project, assistant wildlife chief and then wildlife chief in May. Dukes has been an active leader in every annual meeting of the group, served as chair of the group’s steering committee, oversaw the transition of the technical group from a “Southeast-only” effort to the larger range-wide 25-state effort, as well as the growth in capacity of the technical group’s National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
The 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.
Among the organization’s many contributions is the creation of its Grassland Restoration Incentive Program (GRIP) that uses NGO, corporate, and state funding to encourage and support private landowner conservation activities through direct financial assistance to supplement Farm Bill programs that may miss important areas due to national and state restrictions. GRIP has already provided support to private landowners for habitat improvement work on over 34,000 acres in the first 7 months since implementation in November 2013. In addition, the OPJV partners are positioned to expand all aspects of conservation planning, population monitoring, and conservation tracking to support private landowners in meeting conservation delivery objectives identified in NBCI 2.0, the range-wide restoration plan for bobwhites.
August 14, 2014
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa— A decades-long tradition of good land stewardship and aggressive bobwhite management and research across roughly 20 million acres of native rangeland was recognized here last week 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 the annual meeting of the nation’s bobwhite experts. 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.”
Clayton Wolf, wildlife division director with Texas Parks & Wildlife, reacted to the designation saying, “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) congratulates all the landowners, land managers and hunters of South Texas for receiving this prestigious designation recognizing their efforts to conserve this iconic game bird. TPWD, universities, conservation organizations and other agencies have a long history of working with private landowners and hunters in South Texas to address the conservation, research, and management needs of the northern bobwhite. Through these efforts, decisions on the best management approaches have resulted in bobwhite populations that continue to thrive even in the face of near record drought over the last several years.
“The support that TPWD provides in this partnership, and much of the support from others, would not be possible without the contributions of hunters, and specifically quail hunters that purchase Upland Game Bird Stamps. Above all, the persistence and abundance of the bobwhite on the landscape in South Texas result from a land stewardship ethic that is clearly the foundation for the success of this species and many others.”
Said Henry Hamman of Houston, Texas: “As a representative of south Texas landowners and also in my role as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, we are honored by this designation. It will go a long way to highlighting the importance of this region to wild quail.”
Fred Bryant, Exec Director of CKWRI, said: “What an honor and affirmation by the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. This recognition sets us apart as a bastion of wild quail habitat in a region we have coined as the ‘Last Great Habitat’. The stamp of approval is heart-warming to all of the conservation and hunting community we represent.”
Primary criteria for the Legacy Landscape designation includes an extensive area of ecologically “contiguous” habitat that has for decades supported high densities of wild northern bobwhites, a long-term tradition of purposefully implementing or maintaining land use practices that support bobwhite habitat conservation, and landowners, hunters and other stakeholders who have demonstrated strong support for quail hunting, management and/or quail research over multiple decades.
p class=”Default”>August 5, 2014
new quail coordinator for the state. Sasser is a veteran bobwhite manager and Alabama’s current non-game wildlife program coordinator. He replaces Carrie Threadgill, who works for Sasser as the Central Alabama nongame biologist in the non-game wildlife program.
Alabama is one of 25 states in the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), the states’ unified, coordinated strategy to restore plummeting wild bobwhite populations across the bird’s core range. Each state has a designated quail coordinator to represent it in the effort on a daily basis, as well as serve on the range-wide technical committee behind the initiative.
Sasser, who has a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Auburn University, began his wildlife career managing a private quail plantation in east central Alabama. His interests in quail management led him to northwest Florida to work for what was then the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, where he spent the next 18 years focusing on bobwhite quail and wild turkey research and management. In Florida, he was heavily involved with the management of Florida’s state bird dog field trial grounds, the Blackwater Field Trial Area, which was managed for wild quail.
From 1990-1998, he also served on the Quail Task Force for Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, Tennessee, the home of the National Bird Dog Championship. He left Florida in 1998, joining the private sector for the next four years before deciding to return “home” to Alabama.
In 2002, he accepted a wildlife biologist position with Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, becoming the coordinator of the Non-game Wildlife Program. In 2010, he received the coveted Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award as Wildlife Conservationist of the Year. He continued his interest in quail management and Sykes, who was hired only last year, expanded Sasser’s role to include quail coordinator duties while enlarging his staff.
Sasser admits his favorite hobby has always been quail hunting, bird dogs, and field trials. “Although I don’t compete in field trials or judge anymore, I keep a couple of walking horses around and still enjoy riding and watching the big dogs run at a few field trials here in Alabama when me and my buddies aren’t hunting. I’m looking forward to being ‘officially’ in the quail arena again,” Sasser said.
p style=”text-align: left;” align=”center”>August 4, 2014
… Forest Management Initiatives Show Promise for Bobwhites, Says NBCI
Substantial progress is being made on the bobwhite restoration front through two national initiatives that some might find surprising – the restoration of native longleaf and shortleaf pine forests in their historic ranges. And the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is playing an integral role in both, says NBCI Director Don McKenzie.
On July 22, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a panel discussion in Washington, DC on the last five years of
progress in restoring the nation’s longleaf pine forests, a historically fertile ground for coveys of bobwhites. NBCI Forestry Coordinator Mike Black, in his role as chair of the Longleaf Partnership Council, will be one of the five panelists, “a reflection of NBCI’s active role in longleaf pine forest restoration,” says NBCI Director Don McKenzie.
“The bottom line is that after decades of decline and loss in net longleaf pine acreage, the net acreage for longleaf has begun to increase on a range-wide basis,” said McKenzie, “and that expansion is expected to continue. That’s good news for bobwhites.
“From the beginning, NBCI identified active, purposeful forest management, especially of southern pines, as the most potentially fertile ground for expansion of bobwhite habitat on a landscape scale, hence the NBCI ‘forestry coordinator’ position,” said McKenzie. “Decisions are made by the people who show up, and NBCI has been there representing bobwhites as decisions are made in these two initiatives. And that will pay dividends for bobwhite populations.”
Because of the enormous habitat potential, NBCI and bobwhites have been “at the table” consistently with both the longleaf pine initiative and the newer “shortleaf pine initiative,” with NBCI’s Black actively involved as “senior conservationist” with the shortleaf effort. The shortleaf initiative is expected to deliver a range-wide restoration plan in September. A job announcement has been posted for a director of that initiative, which will be headquartered at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, where NBCI is headquartered.
“Most people think of bobwhites in a strictly agricultural setting and that really isn’t the case historically,” said Black. “When fire-dependent longleaf and shortleaf pine forests blanketed millions of acres, those forests were often thick with bobwhites. The frequent fire necessary for both species’ seeds to sprout also created conditions favorable to native grasses and forbs, the ground level conditions required by bobwhites. These pines are slow growing, but also tremendously valuable in the market, which should interest landowners who want a financial return on their efforts but also value wildlife.”
Longleaf pine forests alone once encompassed more than 90 million acres of the North American landscape. Today, only three percent, or 3.4 million acres, remain and, yet, longleaf pine forests represent some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, providing critical habitat for 29 threatened and endangered species. Also biologically diverse, shortleaf pine forests once covered 281 million acres in 24 states, but have been reduced to six million acres today.
… New NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program Taking Center Stage
Bobwhite experts from around the country will converge in West Des Moines, IA July 29-August 1 for the 2014 meeting of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC).
Theme of the meeting is “Living on the Edge,” a reference to where the northern edge of the quail range meets the transitional edge between grasslands, forests and agriculture, according to Todd Bogenschutz, who is coordinating the event on behalf of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Iowa is one of 25 member states of the NBTC, the technical group guiding the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), and West Des Moines will be the farthest north the bobwhite group has convened for its annual meeting.
Expected to be a central topic is the new NBCI Coordinated Implementation Program (http://goo.gl/wcQJBh). It was adopted by the NBCI Management Board – representing state wildlife agency directors — in March. The voluntary program lays out a specific, step-by-step roadmap for identifying and developing NBCI Bobwhite Focal Areas, along with measures of success, for impact on a landscape scale. And although the primary target is the bobwhite, the program’s impacts extend far beyond bobwhites to include a suite of declining songbirds, pollinators and other species. Six states, including Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Virginia, beta tested the approach in 2013 and are moving forward with implementation. Oklahoma and Nebraska are expected to join in, and other states are primed to make announcements as well.
“I think some people will perhaps be surprised at some of the states that step up to the plate on this new program, developed by the states themselves, to make restoration attempts at a landscape scale more clear cut, definable and measurable,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “The NBCI states run the gamut from the second largest state in the U.S. to the second smallest, and they cover a landscape that varies from the cornfields of the Midwest to the rangelands of Texas and the longleaf pine of the South. The variety is incredible.”
A wide range of additional issues will also be discussed in the context of bobwhite conservation and habitat management, including forest management, agriculture policy, grassland and grazing lands issues.
NBCI will also debut its National Fire Bird Conservation Awards program in Iowa. The program gives state quail coordinators the opportunity to recognize an individual, group or entity that has made “significant contributions” to the advancement of “the habitat-based, landscape-scale restoration of wild bobwhites.” (The term “fire bird” was first coined by biologist Herbert Stoddard, who published the first comprehensive study of bobwhites in 1931 and made the connection between the bobwhite’s dependency on fire on the landscape in much of its range.)
“Landscape-scale habitat restoration is exactly what we are all about,” said McKenzie. “And if there are individuals, groups or entities that are assisting the effort at that level then we want to recognize and thank them, and we want the world to know their contributions. We can’t restore wild bobwhite populations alone. It’s going to take the cooperation of many others.”
NBTC membership consists of dues-paying students or professionals (minimum bachelors degree, or currently enrolled as a student in wildlife or related science or art) employed by a state, provincial or federal agency, conservation group, or private company that has an interest in the conservation of wild bobwhites, or is self-employed with a professional interest in the conservation of wild bobwhites.
The Wildlife Society (TWS) is also offering up to 30 hours of continuing education units (CEUs) for maintenance of the “certified professional wildlife biologist” title for those certified wildlife biologists participating.
Cost of registration, including membership dues, is $250. Eligible participants can register at http://meetings.iowatws.org.
Meeting sponsors currently include Iowa State Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the Quail Coalition and King Communications.
The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is welcoming new faces in the bobwhite conservation community as five of the 25 NBCI states have identified new “quail coordinators” to “reload” for efforts during the new year following recent vacancies.
“As the range-wide initiative to restore bobwhites, NBCI is pleased that states continue to remain committed to the bobwhite conservation challenge by refilling these vital quail coordinator positions,” said NBCI Director Don McKenzie. “We will miss our friends and colleagues who are moving on but look forward to working with the new people who are bringing valuable energy, skills and ideas to our quail community.”
Jeff Prendergast is the new small game specialist stationed at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Hays regional office. For more than two years, Prendergast worked as a biologist technician in southeast Kansas and most recently as a district biologist in northeast Kansas. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Biological Sciences at Emporia State University.
In his new position Prendergast will be coordinating several small game surveys and representing KDWPT on the Midwest Pheasant Study Group and the National Bobwhite Technical Committee, and will be implementing the state’s quail plan along with Jim Pitman. He will also work with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in their Hays regional office helping them design and implement wildlife-friendly conservation practices.
Scott Sudkamp is the new small game coordinator for Missouri Department of Conservation as part of the Species
and Habitat Unit in the Wildlife Division. Sudkamp will work with department staff and partners to improve coordination and focus of efforts to manage all small game, freeing Max Alleger to concentrate more on grasslands and thus enabling MDC to increase leadership in both arenas.
Sudkamp received his Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology and a minor in Botany from Eastern Illinois University in 1994 and completed his M. S. degree in Zoology/Wildlife at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1997. His thesis, “A Landscape-Level Assessment of Upland Habitat in Illinois,” highlighted quail and offers a beneficial perspective in this new role. In 1998, he became assistant manager for a 28,000-acre wildlife management area and two smaller areas in the southeastern corner of the Texas panhandle for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
He began his MDC career in 2002 as a wildlife biologist on conservation areas around Lamar, working with grasslands and wetlands, providing workshops to the public, managing small game, and conducting youth hunts. Two years later, Scott became a Private Lands Conservationist serving Vernon and Bates Counties. He also served as the feral hog planning section chief for the Kansas City Region and worked on various teams including Grassland Strategic Management Plan Team, Quail Technical Committee, Grassland Review Committee, MOQuail Blog Team and Missouri Chapter of The Wildlife Society Professional Development Committee. Sudkamp co-authored Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest, http://extension.missouri.edu/p/mp903.
Sudkamp can be contacted at 417-884-2089 or at Scott.Sudkamp@mdc.mo.gov.
With a B.S. in wildlife and fisheries ecology from Oklahoma State and 23 years experience with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Scott Cox is the new coordinator of the state’s upland game program and will be providing technical assistance to landowners and serving as a liaison on Oklahoma State’s quail research. Cox was previously a wildlife biologist managing the Spavinaw Hills and Oologah wildlife management areas, a research biologist responsible for hunting-related activities on the Beaver River, Optima and Schultz wildlife management areas and the Rita Blanca Grasslands, and a research biologist responsible for supervising a northern bobwhite mortality study in the western portion of the state. Cox has published various quail research studies.
Cox can be contacted at 405-301-9945 or email@example.com
Stan McTaggart has been a district wildlife biologist with the Illinois DNR working with waterfowl and upland hunting sites along the Illinois River in District 8. Before his position with the Illinois DNR, he worked for the Sangamon County Soil and Water Conservation District as a biologist and coordinator with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) in Springfield, IL and as a term biologist for the U.S. Forest Service on the Shawnee National Forest in Vienna, IL. McTaggart earned his undergraduate degrees at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and his MS Degree at Eastern Illinois University.
McTaggart can be contacted at (217)558-6623 or Stan.McTaggart@Illinois.gov.
p style=”text-align: center;”>South Carolina
South Carolina native and Clemson biological sciences graduate Willie Simmons is the new small game project supervisor and quail coordinator for South Carolina. Simmons has been with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for over 20 years and has extensive experience with public and private land management. Most recently, Simmons worked in Region 3 as alligator coordinator, youth hunt and mobility impaired hunt coordinator. He also was active with heritage preserves, WMA properties, prescribed fire, pesticide application, and nuisance wildlife.
Simmons fills the vacancy created when Billy Dukes, former chair of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee, was named the state’s assistant chief of wildlife. Both Simmons and Dukes will be active with national technical committee and in the implementation of the state’s new quail restoration plan.
Simmons can be contacted at 803-734-3898, or SimmonsW@dnr.sc.gov.
While the wild bobwhite quail population continues to struggle, the momentum to restore their populations range wide continues to grow with several important pieces falling into place over the last year, according to Don McKenzie, director of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
In the new issue of NBCI’s Bobwhite Almanac, State of the Bobwhite 2013, McKenzie recounts the increasing number of active partnerships supporting habitat work, major donations to critical bobwhite support functions, the growing national coalition aimed at changing federal agriculture policy to benefit bobwhites and other grassland species, and NBCI’s official entry into the arena of mine reclamation for grasslands wildlife among other advancements.
South Carolina’s fall 2013 launch of a new initiative aimed at landscape-scale restoration of wild bobwhites is among several positive highlights for the species in the newest NBCI report. The Almanac details South Carolina’s upcoming push in 30 counties, aimed primarily at management activities on forested lands with the creation of forest/woodland savannas, and agricultural lands utilizing field borders and conversion of exotic grass pastures to native warm-season grasses.
The Almanac also examines the impact of federal agriculture policy on bobwhites, with NBCI Agriculture Policy Coordinator Kyle Brazil writing, “The continued existence of meaningful populations of bobwhites, as well as an entire suite of grassland birds, depends in large part on our ability to influence (federal) policy.
That policy has subsidized the planting of millions of acres of exotic grasses to the exclusion of native grasses and to the detriment of bobwhites and other grassland species. Integrating native grasses back into America’s pasturelands is one of NBCI’s major objectives in concert with other conservation groups.
NBCI Forestry Coordinator Mike Black also examines the enormous potential of forest management practices to positively affect quail populations.
“While we typically think of classic bobwhite habitat in an agricultural setting … our best habitat work on behalf of bobwhites will actually occur in the forested landscapes from New Jersey to Texas and Oklahoma to Florida,” contends Black. “Much of this is already occurring, often with very positive results for quail.”
The Almanac highlights examples of forest management that are increasing bobwhite populations, including shortleaf pine ecosystem restoration on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas and a similar project with longleaf pine on a wildlife management area in Alabama.
Also detailed in the Almanac is the effort by six states – Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas and Virginia – to pilot NBCI model focal areas that will, for the first time, couple large-scale habitat management with collaborative monitoring. The new report is available for viewing at www.bringbackbobwhites.org, and printed copies are available for purchase at https://bringbackbobwhites.org/donate-2/online-store.
The Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) has voted unanimously to endorse member states’ fully funding the core operations of the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) for an initial three-year period. This non-binding resolution paves the way for the states to build their national bobwhite restoration initiative to the full strength originally envisioned, while the fledgling Bobwhite Foundation attracts donors and eventually matures into the ability to fund the 25-state effort.
SEAFWA’s primary membership is the state wildlife management agencies of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, and SEAFWA is the entity that originally launched the cooperative multi-state approach to restore wild bobwhite quail populations. Two other regional associations of state wildlife agencies – the Northeastern and Midwest – also endorse the NBCI, and several of their states actively participate.
NBCI Management Board Chairman and executive director of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Bob Duncan, said support for fully funding the initiative by state wildlife management agencies is appropriate because the bobwhite is a game bird for which the states have legal responsibility, the NBCI is an initiative “by the states for the states,” quail conservation is beneficial to a variety of other priority species in decline and NBCI staff can be most effective when concentrating on bobwhite conservation rather than fundraising.
“Unified, elevated support of the NBCI by the states also will inspire confidence in potential donors to the Bobwhite Foundation,” said Duncan.
To date, NBCI member states have chipped in to pay for the director position while the rest of the NBCI capacity is supported by short-term grants, such as from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Park Cities Quail chapter of the Texas Quail Coalition.
“The time is right for the states to step up en mass and raise their NBCI support to a higher level,” Duncan said. “Such leadership by the bobwhite states would send a clear signal to their partners and sportsmen that bobwhite restoration is a top priority. NBCI’s small staff has made enormous strides at the national and regional levels to help states identify and deal with obstacles and opportunities in the bobwhite restoration effort. But bobwhites didn’t disappear overnight and they won’t reappear overnight.
“What NBCI staff is doing for bobwhites is what no state can do alone … keep the species in the national conservation dialogue, and continue to identify national and regional opportunities to restore wild populations and do so with the cumulative weight of 25 states. NBCI needs to spend more time on behalf of bobwhites and the states, and less time trying to find continued funding. We also need to be much more active in grasslands issues, in mine reclamation issues, and in building and maintaining the online tools and national bobwhite databases the states need,” said Duncan.
Headquartered at the University of Tennessee, NBCI is a project of the National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) to elevate bobwhite quail recovery from an individual state-by-state proposition to a range-wide, policy-level leadership endeavor. The committee is comprised of representatives of state fish and wildlife agencies, academic research institutions and non-governmental conservation organizations. Policy guidance is provided by the NBCI Management Board, with each state wildlife agency director represented. NBCI is funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, two dozen state wildlife management agencies, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Southern Company and the Park Cities Chapter of the Texas Quail Coalition.