Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Takes Quail Under Its Wing

Richmond, VA — “Bob-white, Bob-white” was a frequent bird call
heard across Virginia some forty years ago. Today, with the loss of
habitat, Northern Bobwhite Quail numbers have fallen off and are
heard far less frequently. Virginia has not only seen a decline in
these great birds but also a decline in the hunters devoted to
pursuing them. Fewer quail hunters translates into lost hunting
revenue for some of the Commonwealth’s most rural areas. According
to data in the Virginia Quail Action Plan, “In 1991, the direct
contribution of quail hunters to the Virginia economy was estimated
to be nearly $26 million and the total economic impact approached
$50 million…The total loss to the Virginia economy was more than
$23 million from declining quail hunter expenditures between 1991
and 2004.”

At its meeting on Friday, February 27, 2009, the Board of Game
and Inland Fisheries made a bold statement by declaring quail
restoration work to be one of the Virginia Department of Game and
Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) highest priorities. The Board, comprised
of 11 representatives from across the state, reviewed the Virginia
Quail Action Plan presented by staff and committed to funding the
plan for the next five years. Past plans had failed to meet goals
because they were not fully funded and staffed. The current Board
made it clear that they do not want the bobwhite quail to take a
backseat to other species any longer.

Large-scale habitat restoration and education will be needed.
Despite a tightening budget, VDGIF Director Bob Duncan commented,
“I am optimistic we will find a way to fund this important work.”
Duncan added, “We would welcome financial support from partners and
other interested quail enthusiasts to carry this forward.”

A that same meeting Wildlife Division Director Bob Ellis
recognized the contributions of the Virginia Quail Council, a group
of conservation organizations actively supporting the Virginia
Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land
management practices and programs that increase the quality and
quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.
Many have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding supporting
the Virginia Quail Action Plan.

Other species that share the same early-succession habitat as
quail will benefit from this work. The loggerhead shrike, the
Henslow’s sparrow, grasshopper sparrow, and numerous grassland and
shrub dependant songbirds and wildlife are also in decline. Of the
96 birds identified in Virginia’s Wildlife Action Plan as Species
of Greatest Conservation Needs, 20% are early-succession habitat
dependent; in other words, require similar habitat to quail.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan can be viewed on the
Department’s website at

Participants in the process and members of the Virginia Quail
Council include:

Quail Unlimited

Quail Forever

Ruffed Grouse Society

National Wild Turkey Federation

Conservation Management Institute

The Nature Conservancy

The National Audubon Society

Virginia Department of Forestry

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy

Virginia Department of Transportation

Virginia Cooperative Extension Service

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

USDA Farm Service Agency

US Forest Service

US Army Corps of Engineers

US Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Wildlife Division

US Marine Corps Quantico, Wildlife Division

American Electric Power

Dominion Virginia Power

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative

American Woodcock Initiative

Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources

Longwood University

Reese Farms in Halifax County.

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