Texas A&M AgriLife is wasting no time in putting legislatively mandated dollars to work to find the cause of the widespread loss of wild quail across Texas, officials said.
“Quail research awards have been made and instructions given to the investigators,” said Dr. Jim Cathey, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service wildlife specialist and project leader for the Reversing the Quail Decline Initiative. “Applied research proposals were submitted on Nov. 11, and award notifications made Dec. 2. Work on funded projects will be starting soon.”
The $2 million initiative over two years includes dedicated research efforts as well as targeted education for landowners. Cathey serves as the initiative lead and works closely with Dr. Dale Rollins, the statewide coordinator for all efforts related to addressing quail decline in Texas. Of the 13 projects funded, those involved represent elements of Texas A&M University System, as well as the University of North Texas, Texas Tech University and the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch.
The funded projects include: work on fire ant control; a statewide Geographic Information Systems quail decline landscape model; works on aflatoxins relating to chronic low-level exposure, development of an easy to use aflatoxin detection method and control of aflatoxins; parasite treatments; “soft-release” of wild quail into new habitat; feral hog ramifications; quail genomics; insecticide impacts; and measuring the success of translocating bobwhites and scaled quail into their former ranges.
“We are also pleased that a statewide advisory committee for the quail initiative has been formed to provide leadership and coordination of educational outreach efforts and will hold their first face-to-face meeting at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in San Angelo,” Cathey said. “This committee is comprised of landowners, outfitters, AgriLife Extension agents, biologists and others with a keen awareness and concern relating to the quail decline issue.”
Cathey said their specific charges include organizing a statewide quail symposium in 2014, assisting in implementing Texas Quail Index demonstrations statewide, identifying desirable locations to host upcoming Quail Appreciation Days and providing ideas for research to enhance quail abundance. Several of AgriLife Extension’s county agents across the state will be working to develop the Appreciation Days with Rollins and others, and will be participating in boots-on-the-ground quail demonstration work with local landowners.
Also slated is the fifth annual Distinguished Lectureship in Quail Management, set for 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Dallas Convention Center. The lectureship, which is free and open to the public, is being funded in part through the initiative. It is being held in conjunction with the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention.
For more information on the lectureship, contact Rollins at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 325-650-0311.