ABILENE – Organizers are urging quail enthusiasts to make plans to attend the Statewide Quail Symposium to be conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service on September 16-18. Plans are being finalized for the symposium, which will open with a tour of the Trail Ranch at Albany beginning at 1 p.m. Sept. 16. The remainder of the symposium will take place at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Abilene.
“The last time we convened a statewide quail symposium was in 1999 in Abilene,” said Dr. Dale Rollins, a symposium planner. Rollins is AgriLife Extension’s statewide coordinator for the Reversing the Quail Decline Initiative at San Angelo and director of the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch at Roby.
“Since then we’ve experienced record lows of bobwhites, scaled or blue quail and consequently, the number of quail hunters,” he said. “We hope we turned the corner last year and we likewise hope to build on that rebound nicely this summer.”
Rollins said the symposium will bring together leading professionals and experts in quail management, research and conservation from around the state.
“These speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including current land managers, research scientists and state agency professionals who will present a wide range of currently relevant and popular topics,” he said.
The Sept. 16 Trail Ranch tour presentations will include talks on quail management, economics, the Texas Quail Index, defining usable space for quail and brush sculpting.
The Sept. 17 session slated for 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. will feature talks on the state of quail hunting in Texas, weather and quail, translocating wild quail for re-establishment and eyeworms, plus debates on pen-reared quail and cow and quail coexistence.
The Sept. 18 session from 8-11:15 a.m. will feature talks on the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch, Quail-Tech, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Institute, Borderlands Research Institute and plans for the next biennium.
Individual preregistration is $50 by Sept. 7 and $75 thereafter. Individual student preregistration is $20 by Sept. 7 and $50 thereafter.
Three Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units in the general category will be offered.
For the latest information on the agenda, registration, lodging and more go to, www.statewidequailsymposium.com .
The Reversing the Quail Decline Initiative coordinated by Rollins is a $2 million legislatively funded AgriLife Extension statewide initiative supported by Upland Game Bird Stamp revenue. Rollins said those dollars support research projects and AgriLife Extension educational activities including the Statewide Quail Symposium, which represents the culmination of those funds.
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas will be working with partners on the recently announced 2015 NRCS Texas Bobwhite Quail Initiative, aimed at increasing the amount of high-quality native grassland and savannah habitats by at least 255,000 acres over a four year period for bobwhite quail and related declining wildlife species. The initiative targets more than 60 Texas counties.
Bobwhite quail populations have declined over the past 40 years, mainly due to the loss of rural lands and habitat fragmentation. Private landowners have a great opportunity through this initiative to make desired habitat improvements on their land, which in turn will benefit and increase quail populations, as well as other wildlife species. Bobwhites play a valued role in the ecosystem cycle of life and are a barometer of changes in other grassland bird populations. Conservation management that improves quail populations will also benefit a wide array of declining songbird species such as Loggerhead shrike, dickcissels, grasshopper sparrow, and meadow larks to name a few.
Quail can also provide an opportunity for revenue for landowners and rural communities through hunting, recreation, and ecotourism. Their presence not only increases the aesthetics of the land, but may also increase the real estate value. Wildlife tax exemptions might also be attained through the county tax appraisal office by having a conservation or wildlife plan.
"For many, the enjoyment of hearing and seeing wildlife is one of the many reasons people own land," said Salvador Salinas, Texas NRCS state conservationist. "For others, it may be the enjoyment of a rural lifestyle where hunting or wildlife photography is important or being able to pass the land onto future generations in better condition than when it was acquired. Whatever the reason, with more than 83 percent of Texas land privately-owned, the landowner is in the driver's seat when it comes to taking action to conserve, enhance and beautify their land for wildlife."
The NRCS will provide technical assistance to those desiring a blueprint to follow aimed at conserving, protecting and improving their land and natural resources. The blueprint is a conservation plan that is developed with a landowner free of charge and can be tailored to the development of Bobwhite quail habitat on their place. A conservation plan will increase your ranking for funding when applications are requested. Applications are taken year round, but certain funding deadlines are announced throughout the year.
Conservation plans can include:
All plans are confidential. Their purpose is to provide a roadmap to help you achieve your goals as well as your farm or ranch objectives. The bonus of improving your land through conservation stewardship benefits not only you, your family and future generations, but also the community with cleaner air, water, improved water quantity and quality, enhanced wildlife habitats and populations, and an overall a healthier place to live.
The initiative is a result of a partnership effort with various conservation-minded groups. Along with NRCS, partners include the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture's Grassland Restoration Initiative Program (GRIP), University of North Texas Quail Program (UNT Quail), Western Navarro County Bobwhite Quail Restoration Initiative (WNBRI), Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (CKWRI) and the Rio Grande Joint Venture (RGJV), and Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).
For more information visit your local USDA-NRCS office or visit www.tx.nrcs.usda.gov.
The Patriot-News is reporting there's a "good possibility" that bobwhite quail – widely believed to be gone from Pennsylvania as a wild, naturally occurring species – could be the focus of a restoration effort at the 17,000-acre Fort Indiantown Gap military installation in northern Lebanon County, reported Commissioner Timothy Layton, chairman of the board's quail restoration committee. Read more HERE.
The effort to restore bobwhite quail in Pennsylvania is going to start at one of the busiest military training grounds in the country.
A June 27 field day at the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center will look at how farmers, landowners and wildlife enthusiasts can manage habitat for northern bobwhite quail. To learn more about the bobwhite habitat management sessions click HERE.