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Gov. Justice announces 5-year plan to restore bobwhite quail to West Virginia

Governor Jim Justice announced Wednesday that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is starting a five-year project to restore northern bobwhite quail to West Virginia. (Courtesy: Governor Justice's office)
Governor Jim Justice announced Wednesday that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is starting a five-year project to restore northern bobwhite quail to West Virginia. (Courtesy: Governor Justice's office)(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 4, 2020 at 1:12 PM EST
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Governor Jim Justice announced Wednesday that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is starting a five-year project to restore northern bobwhite quail to West Virginia.

The bird is a native species and was once found across the state, a press release from the Governor's office said. However, the winters of 1977, 1978 and 1979 devastated the species in the West Virginia.

“There’s no question we’ve lost favorable habitat to quail over the last several decades, however, there is still a significant amount of habitat for quail to flourish by starting this reintroduction program,” Gov. Justice said. “Over the next few years, we’re going to work so that our folks can once again hear that familiar bobwhite whistle.”

DNR officials are working on a restoration project at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County, enhancing habitat that will sustain bobwhite quail, according to the news release. Much of the works has been completed. DNR officials are working closely with the Texas Parks and Wildlife agency on this project.

According to the Governor's office, 48 bird were caught in Texas and released at the Toblin WMA last week. Transmitters were placed on some of the quail to monitor survival and habitat use.

"The DNR is charged with maintaining and protecting West Virginia's Wildlife, committing staff and resources to help restore a species that has been in dramatic decline for over 40 years fits right into our mission,” said DNR Director Stephen McDaniel. “Sportsmen and women in this state are lucky to have a Governor that continues to support those efforts.

“He asked me to look into the possibility of restoring bobwhite quail in West Virginia a couple of years ago so we started working with our friends in Texas to put something together, but the weather never seemed to cooperate until now. We are really excited to get this project underway and the Tomblin WMA is a great place to start,” McDaniel added.

“We are already providing habitat management resources in the area for our Elk restoration efforts that will benefit these birds as well,” he said. “In the future wouldn't it be great if you were able to see both Elk and Quail on a visit to southern West Virginia?”

“We are already providing habitat management resources in the area for our Elk restoration efforts that will benefit these birds as well,” he said. “In the future wouldn't it be great if you were able to see both Elk and Quail on a visit to southern West Virginia?”

Peters said it will take several years to see if the project is successful, although the goal is a self-sustaining population. In the meantime, the information DNR officials get from the project may allow staff to help private landowners and small farmers manage bobwhite quail on their properties.

“It’s kind of neat when you start talking to the older generation. The bobwhite whistle is one of the most common calls they remember,” Peters said. “When we get into this project, it would be nice in the years to come if folks all across West Virginia can hear the pleasant bobwhite whistle again in the Mountain State."

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