Drought hurts South Georgia quail - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Drought hurts South Georgia quail

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November 29, 2007

Calhoun County -- The drought has had a major effect on the South Georgia eco-system, and the wildlife that live here. Months without rain hurt the young quail population and South Georgia plantations have had to take steps to make sure there are enough birds for the start of quail hunting season, and their million dollar industry.

Quail hunting brings thousands of tourists and millions of dollars to South Georgia every winter. But Plantation owners say the drought last summer kept many of this fall's hatching of birds from developing. Partridge Pea Plantation owner Dr. Glenn Dowling said "they hatched, but they had no insects to eat."

A Bone Dry June and July kept insects down, and that is the food the hatching quail need in their first weeks of life. Dr. Dowling said "so we didn't have the insects, and therefore our hatch did not survive."

So now there are less young quail in South Georgia, with many still not developed enough to fly yet. South Georgia plantations will have to use more pen raised birds to make sure their customers have a good supply of quail to hunt. Dr. Dowling said "we will have plenty of birds to hunt."

South Georgia plantations have worked for decades to improve the habitat for quail, and increase the population. If the drought continues, plantation owners will take steps to protect the birds. Dr. Dowling said "if we find we are down on the number of birds, we may cut back on some of the days of hunting, or may cut back on the limits. Because we have to have adult birds for breeding next spring."

And keep South Georgia's quail population growing and healthy, to continue to be one of the top quail hunting destinations in the country.

The warm November also worries the Quail Hunting Plantation owners, because there has not been enough cold temperatures to force snakes underground, and snakes are a danger to the high priced bird dogs used in quail hunting.

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