Conservation Need for Bobwhites

This fall, the US Geological Survey released a summary analysis of the 2015 vs 2005 lists of state “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” (SGCN) as depicted in all the State Wildlife Action Plans

(https://www1.usgs.gov/csas/swap/index.html ). Predictably, I went straight to bobwhites. The first point I noticed from the USGS summary is that bobwhites are the 28th most-frequently-listed SGCN in the nation, out of 657 total SGCNs. Second, bobwhites are the 3rd-most-frequently-listed game species, behind king rail and American woodcock.

This simple spreadsheet shows how states listed bobwhites in 2005 (when the NBCI was still new) compared with 2015. Some of the state-by-state findings are interesting:

Bobwhites as SGCN

1. NBCI states that do not list bobwhites at all:
Alabama, Indiana
2. NBCI states that added bobwhites in 2015:
Missouri, Tennessee
3. NBCI states that dropped bobwhites in 2015:
Nebraska, Pennsylvania
4. Non-NBCI states that listed bobwhites both years:
District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin
5. Non-NBCI states that added bobwhites in 2015:
Colorado
6. Non-NBCI states that dropped bobwhites in 2015:
Connecticut, Michigan, Rhode Island
7. # of States listing bobwhites in 2005: 28
# of States listing bobwhites in 2015: 26

From follow-up conversations and emails, I’ve learned that Indiana subsequently has administratively acted and recently approved adding bobwhites as a SGCN. Alabama considers bobwhites to be of “moderate” conservation concern, thus not in enough trouble to warrant SGCN status. Missouri and Tennessee added bobwhites in their revised 2015 plan after determining it was legitimate for game species to be designated as SGCNs. Pennsylvania dropped bobwhites in 2015 after officially determining the species was already extirpated statewide in the wild. In Nebraska, bobwhites are doing comparatively well statewide.

The attention to bobwhites from eight states that are not participants in the NBCI is interesting and a bit perplexing. NBCI has approached at least four of those states in recent years about joining the Initiative, without success; the five that still list bobwhites as a SGCN seem not to be concerned enough to participate in the NBCI. The obvious question about the three states that removed bobwhites in 2015 is whether the species has been extirpated in those states, too, but no formal declaration has been made.

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