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UT-Headquartered Organization Accelerates Efforts to Restore Bobwhite Quail Population

bobwhite quail
Bobwhite quail. Image courtesy of

KNOXVILLE -- The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), headquartered at The University of Tennessee, has accelerated its efforts to stop the decline of bobwhite quail and other native grasslands birds. NBCI is a coalition of 25 state fish and wildlife agencies and various conservation organizations established to restore wild populations of bobwhite quail in this country to levels comparable to 1980.

The NBCI has indicated that these birds are "far inadequate" to stop their decline.

"A much larger, long-term commitment by all states and conservationists is imperative to overcome the half-century decline in bobwhite habitats and populations," according to the first State of the Bobwhite: Grassland Conservation at a Crossroads from the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). "Bobwhites are slipping through our fingers, and time is not on our side. We have the expertise; now we need to muster the resolve."

Bobwhite quail populations have plummeted, while entire suites of songbirds that depend on the same habitat have recorded similar declines.

The NBCI functions under the direction of The National Bobwhite Technical Committee (NBTC) which is comprised of over 100 wildlife professionals from state and federal agencies, universities, and private organizations.

The NBCI and the NBTC say specific actions are required over the next 12 months as initial steps to recovering quail and other grassland species. They indicate that the U.S. Department of Agriculture should "step up to the plate" to become a more positive force in the restoration of native grasslands and bobwhite quail by making native plant species, instead of aggressive exotics that provide poor habitat, the first choice when the department subsidizes with public money plantings on private lands.

"This is probably the single most important thing that can be done across much of the country for America's native grasslands and the wildlife that depend on them, including bobwhite quail and a whole host of songbirds," said NBCI Director Don McKenzie.

Published October 13, 2011, 11:31 a.m.

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