Missouri Scores Second Major Success for Bobwhite Restoration

Missouri’s determined efforts to implement the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) have paid off again, reports the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). On the heels of the first official NBCI success in Scott County, Missouri, the nation’s second success story has been documented in Cass County, just south of Kansas City.

Cass County has surpassed its NBCI habitat-improvement objectives by nearly 2,000 acres. Immediately after publication of the NBCI in 2002, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) set a county-level objective of 13,420 acres of restored bobwhite habitat. MDC leadership and its private lands conservation staff fostered an effective partnership that, to date, has accomplished 15,324 acres of new suitable habitats, almost exclusively on private lands. MDC estimates the area of suitable quail habitat in Cass County has been doubled, from about 5 percent to 10 percent of the county.

MDC credits the success in working with interested private landowners to close, cooperative relationships among the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency, the local Soil and Water Conservation District, Quail Unlimited and the National Wild Turkey Federation. “It was truly a team effort to reach and surpass the NBCI goals,” according to Quail Unlimited Regional Director Nick Prough. “When we started, the goal looked large, but as more and more projects were added over the years, everyone could see the goal that we all were trying to attain was actually feasible.” Numerous landowner testimonials and biologist observations attest to increasing bobwhite populations on farms with restored habitats across the county.

A next step for MDC is to establish improved monitoring techniques for documentation of large-scale population responses at landscape and county levels, above and beyond the farm level.

For more information about the Cass County program or the NBCI, contact MDC’s Aaron Jeffries at 573-522-4115 (ext 3146) or WMI’s Don McKenzie, NBCI Coordinator, at 501-941-7994. (dfm)

(see also the archived March issue of the Outdoor News Bulletin)

--Wildlife Management Institute