Can farmers help bring back Bobwhite quail? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Can farmers help bring back Bobwhite quail?

October 12, 2004

Turner County- When most people want to go quail hunting they head for plantations, but UGA Ecologists are hoping one day they'll start going to places like Wolf Creek, a Turner County farm owned by L.O. Peebles.

"He'd been hunting out here and on 2,200 acres only found three quail. So he challenged the University of Georgia to help improve the quail population on his farm," says Wolf Creek Project Coordinator Randy Hudson.

Seven years later Hudson and his colleagues increased the quail population seven-fold without releasing any pen-raised birds on the land.

"We can document in the neighborhood of 48 to 51 coveys that we feel pretty certain about. So, from three coveys to 51 coveys is quite significant," he says.

"We're really practical about this now because farmers have to make a living off their farms. So, what I'm not going to do is tell them that you've got to change all the ways you manage your farm in order to have quail," says UGA Ecologist John Carroll.

But what they are telling them is how to make a few modest changes to get a modest return. During the Wolf Creek Quail Management Field Day farmers learned changing the landscape and planting ragweed can provide the perfect natural habitat for bobwhite's to flourish.

"You don't expect to have the numbers of quail that they have on the quail plantations but enough that most people who like to hunt quail would be pretty happy about," Carroll says.

And that's just enough to boost the farmers income and revive Georgia as the mecca for hunting wild quail.

Biologists say the state is losing up to $45-million a year because of the declining population of wild bobwhite quail.

Posted at 5:40 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com

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