Effort to reestablish bobwhite quail in county subject of information meeting May 22

Botetourt County landowners (any acreage), land managers and others interested in joining an effort to reestablish bobwhite quail in the county and surrounding area are invited to an informational meeting Thursday, May 22, at 7 p.m. in the Family Life Center at Fincastle United Methodist Church.

The informational meeting is part of a program to reestablish sustainable coveys of bobwhite quail that’s being started by the Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWFT) in cooperation with biologists from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).

The information session is to help landowners learn how they can manipulate habitat on parts of their property to accommodate the bobwhite quail, other birds and wildlife. This meeting will be followed up with a field workshop in the summer for those interested in seeing how some local landowners are already creating quail habitat.

The NRCS and VDGIF biologists will present a program on the bobwhite quails’ habitat needs, the minimum landowners can do to more extensive kinds of habitat projects. They will also make themselves available to work with any landowners interested in getting assistance in establishing and implementing management plans for their property.

Quail were at one time found in abundance throughout the county, but in recent years, the habitat they needed to nest and survive has dwindled to where there are only scattered small coveys in some areas and none in others.

A few county landowners have tried to reestablish populations of quail on their property through habitat management, but research indicates sustainable quail populations need more than isolated areas to thrive— they need what biologists call a “quail quilt,” a patchwork of habitat over a large area.

The purpose of the Botetourt Quail Initiative is to have as many interested landowners as possible work in cooperation to establish this quail quilt across the county that will provide multiple areas where the habitat is suitable for the primarily ground-dwelling bird.

“In all cases where we see success for quail, local landowner leadership has been the key element,” Marc Puckett explained to the Longbeards when the group approached VDGIF about the effort. Puckett is the VDGIF Small Game Biologist who heads up the department’s quail recovery program.

The Botetourt Quail Initiative hopes to partner with the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) that is supported by the NWTF, Quail Forever, Pheasants Forever, NRCS, FSA, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, the US Forest Service, the VDGIF, 24 other state wildlife agencies, 20 non-profit conservation organizations and several universities and colleges.

For more information about the NBCI, visit http://bringbackbobwhites.org/.  There’s also a Virginia blog on the site at http://bringbackbobwhites.org/blogs/virginia.

The Fincastle UMC Family Life Center is located at the corner of Church Street and Academy Street in Fincastle.

For more information about the May 22 meeting, call Longbeards member Ed McCoy at 540-339-0622 or email edmccoy@ujroutdoors.com.

 

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