A Roadmap to More Quail
other grassland wildlife species. This is best accomplished by conservation plantings of native warm season grasses, shrubs and forbs.
They're also aiming toward better management of pinelands and mixed pine-hardwood areas. This would involve thinning, controlled burning, site preparation and, where possible, increasing the acreage devoted to longleaf pine.
Finally, the strategy targets rangeland improvement through vegetation management and grazing regimes that favor the retention and improvement of native plant communities.
To meet the goals of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, Missouri will have to produce habitat to support an additional 206,432 coveys of quail. That task appears daunting, but it is possible. Quail do not require huge expanses of habitat, and local populations respond quickly to beneficial land management.
To reverse the downward trend in bobwhite abundance and bobwhite-related recreation in Missouri, the Conservation Department has developed a plan called "Strategic Guidance for Northern Bobwhite Recovery." The plan addresses quail needs on conservation areas and on private land. It can be found at <www.missouriconservation.org>.
The plan's goal is for a fall bobwhite density of one bird per two acres on select conservation areas. To achieve this, the Department is increasing early-successional vegetation management on these areas.
In addition, the Quail and Grassland Bird Leadership Council has been formed with the goal of increasing early successional habitat in support of quail and other grassland species.
Improving habitat is the key to restoring quail and other grassland species. In most cases, bobwhite quail habitat can be created or enhanced with some combination of discing, burning, brushpile building, edge feathering, spraying and shrub planting.
The Conservation Department is committed to improving habitat on conservation areas and assisting private landowners to improve their land for bobwhite quail and other grassland species. However, because the Department controls management on less than 3 percent of the Missouri landscape, the fate of the northern bobwhite in the state will be decided on private land.
To help landowners develop quality quail habitat, the Department offers one-on-one consulting services and access to several programs, including the Quail Habitat Initiative, a partnership with Quail Unlimited, and increased habitat management on CRP land with CRPBOB cost-share, as well as a basic cost-share program for landowners without CRP.
The Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative has helped the Department include quail management into our planning and made it easier to integrate all-bird conservation into these efforts. Hopefully, the result will be a greater abundance of open land bird species, and, of course, more bobwhite quail.