Statewide Quail Stocking Initiative aims to restore Bobwhite Quail across West Virginia

ALUM CREEK, WV – Gov. Jim Justice held an event today at the Claudia L. Workman Wildlife Education Center to announce a brand-new statewide initiative to stock Bobwhite Quail at Wildlife Management Areas across West Virginia.

Through the Governor’s Quail Stocking Initiative, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) will stock over 20,000 birds at Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) across the state. To date, the DNR has already stocked over 12,000 Bobwhite Quail, and will continue stocking from August through October, weather and habitat conditions permitting.

Transmitters have been placed on some of the quail to monitor survival and habitat use. Game cameras have also been placed at several locations to monitor through video and pictures.

“I’ve missed these little rascals, and lots of people have,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s a bird that has been here forever, and it’s wildlife we need to protect and bring back. This is a great step forward, and I’m proud to be part of this. I know it will work. A lot of people have grown up and haven’t seen or heard a quail in West Virginia. I’m proud to be part of this, and it’s a great day in West Virginia.”

The Northern Bobwhite Quail is a native species and was once found across West Virginia. However, the winters of 1977, 1978, and 1979 devastated their population. The state’s Bobwhite population reached its peak in the 1920s when the state was approximately 70 percent agricultural land but has faced sharp decline during the last several decades.

Through this reintroduction effort, landowners, hunters, and bird watchers alike will once again be able to hear the familiar “bobwhite” whistle.

“We’re trying to bring back something that people have missed,” Gov. Justice said. “And for generations to come, if we’re able to bring quail back, people will get used to it and love it, and they’ll miss it if it ever leaves us again.”

Bobwhites live in coveys, which are groups of 5-30 birds. Their young are the size of bumblebees and are able to leave the nest about a day after hatching. Up to 3 hatchings, or clutches, can be produced before the season ends in October. Adult bobwhites are almost exclusively seed-eaters, consuming the seeds of grasses and other plants.

As part of the Governor’s Quail Stocking Initiative, the DNR has coordinated habitat restoration projects at seven of the state’s WMAs. DNR maintains nearly 100 WMAs all over the state, which provides visitors and residents with undisturbed hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

Bobwhite Quail have been stocked at the following locations:

  • Burnsville Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Cross Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Frozen Camp Wildlife Management Area
  • Greenbrier State Forest
  • Huttonsville State Farm Wildlife Management Area
  • Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area

“This idea was generated by our Governor because he had an extreme interest in this program,” Director of the West Virginia DNR Brett McMillion said. “This has been an exciting project, and we do believe that there will be some natural regeneration.”

The Governor’s Quail Stocking Initiative is part of a five-year project to restore northern bobwhite quail to the state.

To learn more about the state’s conservation efforts, WMAs, and other natural and scenic areas in West Virginia, visit WVdnr.gov/natural-and-scenic-areas.

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