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Edgefield, SC (October 08, 2007)-Even though quail populations and other grassland bird species have been steadily declining over the last three or four decades, there are some great success stories in several areas of the U.S. Most of these successes have been in areas either with existing or enhanced habitat conditions that have allowed the birds to flourish.

Those interested in viewing the quail forecasts for individual states should go to the Quail Unlimited website at http://www.qu.org to obtain information about the harvest outlook for the upcoming fall quail season. There is also a wealth of information available in the forecast section on giving QU chapter accomplishments for each state.

Quail Unlimited’s national network of local chapters and volunteers has been working on the local, state and national levels since 1981 to combat declining habitat conditions and quail populations. Even though population responses to habitat improvements are sometimes slow and do not occur overnight, there have been some great success stories where landowners have created adequate habitat. In areas of good habitat, populations are less affected by weather and other intrinsic factors.

This year’s drought in the Southeast may have some localized effects on populations. Research has shown that in some cases a lack of moisture and humidity can affect the hatch success. For a look at the drought conditions over the spring and summer, please check the pages at http://drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html.

An almost reverse summer condition occurred in the Southwest, especially in Texas and the Central Plains, where above average rainfall was prevalent. In these areas that are normally very dry during the summer months, there was an abundance of rain. The wet spring and summer created a multitude of unusually plush pastures and rangeland. This plethora of native grass and the resultant insect populations should have provided excellent nesting and brood cover and forage conditions. Forecasts are for excellent fall quail populations in this region.

Even though environmental factors such as the amount and timing of rainfall can have dramatic effects on quail populations, the critical factors in quail populations continue to be adequate habitat, particularly nesting and brood rearing habitat. This is one of the major habitat components lacking in today’s landscape identified by the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). The NBCI was developed as a national recovery plan for bobwhites by a number of biologists, including Quail Unlimited biologists. Recommendations of the NBCI plan are being adopted by most chapters in their local habitat management projects.

Landowners must continue to exercise patience and diligence in their habitat management. The partnerships developed by Quail Unlimited and its local chapters with state and federal agencies, corporations and private landowners have begun to pay some real dividends. Practices approved in the last federal farm bill, commonly known as Upland Habitat Buffers or CP-33, have provided a great boost for quail and other species. Quail Unlimited continues to encourage and influence the incorporation of such quail practices in state and federal legislation and has been active in the pending 2007 Farm Bill.

In addition to the fall forecast, more information is available on the accomplishments of Quail Unlimited and its chapters on our website. You may also call 803-637-5731 for more information.