Monday, August 6, 2012

Texas 2012 Quail count still in catch-up mode

Texas quail have enjoyed improved conditions, but hunters shouldn't expect dramatic improvements in the bird's numbers in the field.

Steve Lightfoot, spokesman for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, said research from TPWD biologists indicate that Texas bobwhite numbers have declined 80 percent from levels in 1970.
"We're definitely in catch-up mode," he said.

Texas' dry spill has taken its toll on the prized bird.

"Prolonged drought has punished quail more than anything," said Dr. Dale Rollins, a professor and extension wildlife specialist for Texas A&M and director of the Rolling Plains Quail Research Center near Roby in Fisher County.

"Roadside quail counts won't begin until early September, but I'm hearing from people who indicate we may have had a hatch of young birds this spring," Rollins said. "Even at best, we're not at the level that we were in 2007. If 2007 was a nine on a rating scale, then this season will be a three.

"I was encouraged with spring rains, but since then pastures are drying up. To date, we've had 8.7 inches of rain at the research center, not nearly enough to help quail numbers."

In the Trans-Pecos, the reproduction of the scaled quail (blue quail) appears to be rebounding after a dismal hatch during last year's drought.

"Parts of the Trans-Pecos received timely rainfall this spring, setting the stage for good nesting conditions. And the areas that had adult carry-over from the 2011 season are experiencing decent reproduction so far this year," Jason Wagner, a wildlife biologist for the TPWD in Pecos County, said.
"Hatches of 15-20 chicks have been seen throughout the Trans-Pecos," he said. "Habitat is in decent condition and a second hatch is not out of the question at this point. However, don't expect a banner year because the adult population is low."

More 2012 Texas Quail Info and Complete Article

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