The whistle of the Bobwhite Quail is a sound that many people in South Carolina grew up hearing. Some residents remember the days where they could go hunting on a whim and find at least half a dozen coveys, but quail hunting nowadays takes preparation. Many hunters buy and release birds to hunt to make up for the lack of wild quail in the state. However, these hunts aren’t very much like wild quail hunting and tend to cost more money.
Looking back through the early years, South Carolina had a rich heritage of quail hunting, but quail populations have been declining steadily since the 1970s. The cause behind declining populations comes down to habitat. The high populations of quail that existed were a byproduct of farming practices of the time. Farms back in the 1950s and 60s contained more grassy fields and cover than they do now, which Bobwhite Quail thrive in. As farming practices are now more efficient, the existing wild quail habitats have suffered.
Luckily, the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative is aiming to bring the bobwhite back to the state by providing services and cost-share opportunities for landowners who are interested in having more bobwhites on their property. The initiative is a statewide effort to restore populations to early 1980s levels by creating more quail habitat. Increasing populations requires a coordinated plan on a landscape scale, as isolated improvements have failed to bring back quail populations. State biologists have identified four focal regions that have the highest possibility to quickly increase populations. The initiative is based on a plan written by the SCDNR that prioritizes work to be done first within these focal areas.
The initiative depends on volunteers, so if you are interested in bringing back the bobwhites then visit the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative website!