Conservation Matters June 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Quail Index taking off

The Texas Quail Index, a statewide effort by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to monitor wild quail population dynamics, has taken full flight, said the effort’s coordinator.

“There are going to be more ears cocked skyward listening to the bobwhite’s iconic whistle this month than ever before,” said Dr. Dale Rollins, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in San Angelo and statewide coordinator for the Reversing the Quail Decline Initiative.

“We’ve spent the last month training AgriLife Extension agents and volunteers who are now implementing the demonstrations on 50 separate sites located across the state.”

Rollins said the index was initiated in April in 43 counties and seven Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife management areas. AgriLife Extension agents were among some 50 index leaders who were trained in the proper methods of counting quail and assessing habitat at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch near Roby last month.

Participating AgriLife Extension agents will be the leaders and points of contact in their respective counties. Rollins said they are well-versed in implementing the index, which involves multiple counts of quail, including whistle counts, roadside counts and the measurements of related habitat conditions.

The ultimate goal is to determine if any of the various counts will reliably predict how successful the upcoming quail season will be, he said.

Rollins said funding for the work is part of a special appropriation made to AgriLife Extension through a partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department during the 83rd Legislature to address the decline of bobwhite and scaled quail in Texas. He said the funds were allocated to address both research issues and outreach education. To date, 13 different research proposals have been funded.

AgriLife Extension outreach efforts include both adult and youth education efforts. The Quail Appreciation Days being held across the state join the Texas Quail Index as two of the adult educational components, while the youth educational efforts include such activities as the Bobwhite Brigade Wildlife Leadership Camps.

For more information about the Texas Quail Index, see wildlife.tamu.edu/quail/texas-quail-index or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TAMUQDI.

For more information, read the full AgriLife TODAY article.

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