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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

December 17, 2014South Carolina Quail Council advocates for habitat restoration

The first meeting of the South Carolina Quail Council was held on Dec. 10 at the Phillips Market Center at the State Farmers Market. The Quail Council is a coalition of state, federal and private interests formed to provide leadership and advocacy for the restoration of habitat for bobwhite quail and other grassland birds. Quail and their habitat cohorts, such as grasshopper sparrows, loggerhead shrikes, Bachman’s sparrows, prairie warblers, painted buntings and others, have been experiencing long-term and widespread population declines due to habitat loss over a large geographic scale.Quail

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has developed a plan for statewide restoration of habitat to benefit these species: “Northern Bobwhite Habitat Restoration in South Carolina: Challenges and opportunities in the 21st Century.” This plan feeds into the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a range-wide plan for recovering bobwhites to target densities set by state wildlife agencies, and includes all 25 states comprising the historic range of the bobwhite.

The formation of the South Carolina Quail Council is a key step in moving the plan forward, which is expected to increase technical assistance capacity to improve habitat in agricultural and forested landscapes, increase public awareness and appreciation of quail and grassland bird species and their habitat, and improve coordination of monitoring and research efforts for these species. An additional benefit of the effort will be increased habitat to support pollinator species such as bees and butterflies that are also known to be in decline. The inaugural meeting of the Quail Council was attended by forty-six individuals representing seven state agencies, five federal agencies, thirteen non-governmental conservation organizations and five private landowners.

“The bobwhite quail is an iconic symbol of South Carolina rural culture and traditions," said Alvin Taylor, DNR Director. “Most younger people have never had the chance to experience what I did growing up in Marion County- the exhilaration of following a couple of bird dogs and experiencing the exciting flush of a wild covey of quail. If we wait any longer to address the bobwhite decline, the current low population levels may become the norm for many people because they don’t know it was any different. If we do that shame on us," Taylor said.

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