The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is actively working to restore bobwhite quail populations and working toward the goals set in the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI).
The NBCI is a national plan created to return quail to their 1980 densities on remaining habitat within 25 years. Quail thrive in grassland habitat, but significant losses of high quality grassland habitat has occurred across Louisiana, particularly in the coastal prairie, longleaf pine ecosystems, and in association with agriculture.
Louisiana had 35,000 quail hunters in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but by the 2006-07 hunting season, quail hunters had declined to 1,300. The drop in participation coincides with an estimated 85 percent decline in the Louisiana quail population since 1966.
"The decline in quail habitat quality and quantity is the principal reason for the decline in quail numbers and consequently hunters," said LDWF Upland Game Manager Fred Kimmel. "We hope our efforts can help restore a healthy quail population and bring the sport of quail hunting back to Louisiana."
LDWF formed the Louisiana Quail and Grassland Bird Task Force to help create and implement a quail restoration plan. That plan is still in development, but will likely call for improvement of nearly two million acres of habitat in Louisiana.
Quail habitat can be improved by native prairie restoration, establishment of field borders around cropland, thinning and increasing use of prescribed fire in pine forests, utilization of native grasses in grazing systems and increasing use of longleaf pine.
In recent developments, LDWF started a native grass drill rental program that makes specialized no-till drills, which are capable of planting native grasses, available for rent by landowners.
LDWF is also a participant in the Louisiana Prescribed Fire Council. This group was recently formed under the auspices of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and will work to address the issues that have led to the decline in the use of prescribed burning.
In addition, LDWF has developed a Private Lands Technical Assistance Program that will increase its ability to provide assistance to private landowners who desire to improve wildlife habitat on their property.
"The effort to restore quail will not happen overnight and will require a coordinated effort among the department, other agencies or organizations, land managers, and conservationists who appreciate the abundant wildlife that Louisiana's grassland habitat supports", said Kimmel.
For more information, contact Fred Kimmel at 225-765-2355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.