Missouri's Cass County Exceeds Quail Recovery Goal

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Cass County becomes the second County in the U.S. and the second in Missouri, to lead the country in the restoration of wild quail habitat and quail populations exceeding levels in 1980, established as a baseline by the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, adopted by all states to restore the dwindling populations.

Cass County becomes the second County in the U.S. and the second in Missouri, to lead the country in the restoration of wild quail habitat and quail populations exceeding levels in 1980, established as a baseline by the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, adopted by all states to restore the dwindling populations.

"In what can only be termed as a phenomenal effort and superb results for recovery of the wild quail, we are extremely proud to have our West Central Chapter and Quail Unlimited as an organization, be a significant part of the quail habitat recovery in Missouri" proclaims Rocky Evans, President of QU. The Northern Bob White Conservation Initiative (NBCI), the strategy plan for quail recovery in the U.S. sets restoration goals of the bob white to 1980 levels, created a habitat goal of 13,420 acres of quail friendly habitat in Cass County. Since 2002, landowners in Cass County created 15,324 acres, exceeding the national target.

"We had stopped to open a gate in the middle of several demonstration farms in the focus area in mid-June, and heard quail nearly everywhere, two in the edge feathering from last year, two in the chop and drop on the waterway from a month ago, three in the buffer along the crop field, two in a renovated hedgerow along the buffer, two whistling across the road in a newly established buffer, and finally about 4 whistling in a couple of downed tree structures which had been placed in the middle of the renovated native grass field. All of this in about 10 minutes on a day to remember that habitat management works", excitedly states Nick Prough, Regional Director of QU and active participant in the hands on work performed.

QU, through its dedicated chapter members coast to coast, is leading the charge to restore the natural habitat of wild quail, working with private landowners as well as state and federal agencies across the country with unprecedented partnerships. By putting on local events and fundraisers, QU chapters raise conservation dollars that are then used for on the ground projects in their area.

Cass County is located in west-central MO, and has a very active QU Chapter, the West Central chapter that used the MO Quail Habitat Initiative Program (QHI, a cooperative cost share program between the MDC and QU) to work on 6,350 acres along with 7,322.8 acres of CRP acres established in native warm season grass seedings. Prior to 2002, Cass county farmland consisted of fescue pastures and crop fields with fescue field borders, brushy draws and fencerows that had grown into mature trees and over-grown fencerows. The amount of landscape now established to quail friendly practices is estimated to have doubled from less than 5% to 10%.

Hands on projects leading to the population success on improvable agricultural areas included; establishing miles of CRP field borders and filter strips, converting undesirable grass fields to native warm season grasses and wildflowers, restoring degraded prairie and creating miles of low-growing woody cover with edge feathering or shrub plantings. Today these areas provide the needed nesting, brooding and escape cover that were lacking in this intensively farmed area.

Tom Lampe, a participating land owner stated "In the 1980's my farm harbored ten coveys ( a covey is considered to be 10 to 12 birds), but then over the years of stagnant habitat management it declined to just two. Now, since I have begun to work on intensive habitat management and disturbance I have noticed eight coveys this fall".

The guidance and leadership of the Missouri Department of Conservation in concert with other state and federal agencies and conservation partners like Quail Unlimited and the NWTF cannot be overstated. Ultimately, the success of the NBCI and other conservation efforts lies in the hands of dedicated landowners with an interest in restoring bob white and other wildlife habitat.

Quail Unlimited (QU) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the restoration of habitat for wild quail and upland wildlife. Its almost 300 chapters nationwide raise local project dollars for on-the-ground projects, including private and public land management with banquets, auctions, sporting clay events and more. QU has a highly trained staff of biologists, state and regional directors and dedicated members that work with private landowners and state and federal agencies to restore quail and upland game populations. In the last 5 years, Quail Unlimited chapters and partners invested over $23.3 million dollars in quail and upland game habitat expenditures and improvements. For more information on QU, wildlife habitat and membership go to the website at http://www.qu.org .

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Craig Alderman
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