UGA’s Warnell School of Forest Resources is committed to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other early successional habitat dependent species. In a demonstration of that commitment, faculty members of the school, along with other members of the Georgia Bobwhite Technical Team, signed a Memorandum of Agreement at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield last month.
Officials at the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources estimate that more than four million acres of habitat must be enhanced across Georgia to achieve the goals of the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and reach the statewide recovery of 227,000 coveys or small flocks.
John Carroll, a wildlife professor in forest resources, played an integral role in establishing the technical team and providing research and monitoring programs in support of the recovery effort.
“We view the bobwhite quail as serving as a flagship for conservation of wildlife associated with grassland and farmland ecosystems,” says Carroll.
“Faced with this challenge, I am thrilled that the wildlife resources division formed the technical team to promote a collaborative effort directed at implementing the NBCI,” says Noel Holcomb, DNR commissioner. “I would like to commend the organizations that signed this memorandum to formalize the numerous cooperative efforts among these organizations and to send a message that Georgia is working to address the ecological and economical problems associated with loss of early successional habitat.”
All of the participating organizations are committed to the recovery of bobwhite quail and other species dependent on early successional habitat. In addition to UGA’s Warnell School of Forest Resources, participants include: the U.S. Forest Service; the Georgia Department of Natural Resources; the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests; the Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission; the Georgia State Council of Quail Unlimited; the U.S. Army, Fort Stewart and
Ft. Benning; the Farm Service Agency; Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences; the Georgia Forestry Commission; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In recent decades, the northern bobwhite quail, Georgia’s state game bird, has experienced drastic population declines primarily because of land-use changes. This has resulted in a loss of early successional habitat, not only for quail, but also for certain songbirds and many other wildlife species. In March 2002, the Southeast Quail Study Group of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies published the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a 22-state recovery plan that establishes goals for the restoration of bobwhite quail to its 1980 population level.
“The cooperation and collective action of all types of conservation organizations ultimately will result in more effective and more substantial habitat restoration for all species that depend on early successional habitat,” says Carroll. “Being the state game bird of Georgia it was important for UGA and WSFR to take a lead in this conservation program.”