Kansas Quail Initiative
Grassland and shrubland-dependant bird species have experienced long-term declines for the past 40 years. Quail, perhaps the most well-known species of this guild, have been a hallmark for this decline. In fact, North American’s northern bobwhite quail population has seen a range-wide decline of over 80 percent since the late 1960’s. Consequently, participation in quail hunting has declined as huntable populations and access to land have decreased. The decline, which has been caused by habitat loss, threatens the tradition of quail hunting and the revenue that drives quail habitat: enhancement, restoration, improvement and acquisition for permanent protection.
The Kansas Quail Initiative’s primary objectives are to facilitate a 50 percent increase in bobwhite populations above the baseline level at the conclusion of the 5-year implementation phase (includes both private and public lands) and at least a 5 percent net increase of suitable quail habitat within each focal area.
Full Project Scope
The Kansas Quail Initiative, which is part of the larger on-going quail habitat collaboration between Quail Forever and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, is designed to focus our quail habitat enhancement and restoration efforts in two strategic focal areas. These areas were selected because they were given either a high or medium quail habitat restoration potential value as part of the recently published National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative. Other considerations in identifying these focal areas included the presence of publicly owned lands, private landowner eligibility for federal conservation programs, outside funding opportunities, and expected landowner interest in quail conservation. The size of each focal area was determined by matching the estimated amount required to convert 5 percent of each landscape to suitable quail habitat with the anticipated funding availability. For many years, quail habitat cost-share has been provided to private landowners across the state for needed habitat improvements, and population monitoring has revealed that those programs have been successful in increasing quail populations where the work occurred. However, limited funding and landowner interest have precluded us from restoring quail across broad landscapes. We recognize that our ability to restore quail populations on a larger scale will be maximized if our resources are more focused.
The focal areas were outlined with 14-digit hydrologic units, made up of 309,622 acres of which 230,000 are potentially improvable for bobwhite quail, to conform to the way the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) targets their conservation programs. The north area is located northeast of Emporia, Kansas. It includes parts of Lyon, Wabaunsee, Coffey and Osage counties and emcompasses Melvern Wildlife area. The south area is located around Parsons, Kansas and includes parts of Labette and Neosho counties. It encompasses a portion of the Grand Osage Wildlife Area. The general areas were selected because they were ranked by field biologists as having either a medium or high restoration potential in the recently published National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI). Other considerations included presence of publicly owned lands, private landowner eligibility for federal conservation programs, outside funding opportunities, and expected landowner interest in quail conservation.