DNR program to track falling quail populations Rough winter, wet summer contribute to decline


November 24, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The bad news for quail hunters in the state is that the severe weather of last winter and the wet summer months probably will have numbers of the birds in the state at low levels this hunting season.

The good news is that the Department of Natural Resources has initiated a multi-year program designed to learn more about ways to help bobwhite quail.

"Bobwhite quail populations throughout the eastern United States have been declining in recent years," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. "One of the primary factors contributing to this decline has been a decrease in the availability of quality quail habitat."

According to Wildlife and Heritage Division statistics, the decline in the state's quail population is mirrored by the drop-off in hunting success. In 1975, an estimated 250,000 quail were taken by hunters, compared to about 50,000 annually in recent years.

In years when winters are severe and springs and summers are unusually wet, poor reproduction further restricts an already small breeding population.

This fall, DNR will contact 1,000 hunters in the state and ask voluntary cooperation in a multi-year survey that will help delineate the rise and fall of quail populations.

In addition to the hunters picked for the sample group, DNR encourages all interested hunters to participate in the survey.

Those interested should write Joe Shugars, Upland Game Project Manager, Wildlife and Heritage Division, Indian Springs WMA, 14038 Blairs Valley Road, Clear Springs, Md., 21722 or call (301) 842-3355.

Whitbread meeting

Whitbread Chesapeake, the group helping to coordinate activities leading up to the arrival of the Whitbread Round the World Race in Maryland in the spring of 1998, has scheduled two this week for people interested in volunteering.

"This is not just about the arrival of the race itself," said Frieda Wildey of Whitbread Chesapeake. "Between now and then there are many events -- receptions and the Whitbread 60 race next May, for example -- and jobs that must be done. We are looking for people willing to donate their time to help in any or all of them."

The first briefing will be held tomorrow in the Maryland Room at the World Trade Center in Baltimore, starting at 5: 30 p.m.

On Tuesday night, a briefing will be held in the Chesapeake Ballroom at the Annapolis Marriott Waterfront Hotel, starting at 6: 30.

Interested volunteers are asked to contact Whitbread Chesapeake at (410) 727-7223.

Wye Island bow hunt

Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area will allow bowhunting on its property on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during Dec. 17-21 and Jan. 7-30.

Hunters must register at the check-in station each day, and no more than 25 will issued permits for the property per day.

The hunt is antlerless only. Deer must be checked in at the site and are considered part of the overall state season bag limit.

For more information, call (410) 827-7577.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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