The number of quail in the U.S. has been steadily declining over the last five decades, especially in Texas, where the quail population has dropped by 80% since 1967. This is problematic for many reasons, including for those who hunt the bird in Texas from late October through February. With ever-shrinking populations, some don’t bother hunting quail in Texas anymore.
Now, researchers from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are bringing California quail into Texas to try to boost the population and revive quail hunting in the state.
Kelly Reyna, director of sustainable agriculture and assistant professor of wildlife management at Texas A&M-Commerce, says introducing California quail could help scientists figure out how to bring back native populations in the future. He says quail are important indicators of the health of an ecosystem.
“They are the canaries of the prairie,” Reyna says. “As the health of the prairie goes down, those bobwhites let you know. They’re telling you that the ecosystem services are down, that the water is not being purified as much, that the air is not getting cleaned as much and that the carbon is not getting sequestered as much.”
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How introducing California quail into the Texas ecosystem could benefit the native bobwhite quail population
– What’s causing the decline of bobwhite quail
– What economic and environmental benefits could come from restoring the native quail population
Written by Antonio Cueto.