The National Bobwhite Technical Committee, at their annual conference on August 5th 2015 in Galloway New Jersey, presented a Group Achievement Award and a Legacy Landscape Recognition to Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy (TTRS) and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division (WRD). These coveted recognitions were presented for collaborative efforts in developing and successfully implementing the WRD Northern Bobwhite Quail Translocation Policy in focal areas of southwest Georgia and northern Florida, and maintaining over a century of bobwhite conservation.
“Bobwhites have declined by about 90% in Georgia since 1966 due primarily to changes in land use,” said Reggie Thackston, WRD Bobwhite Project Leader. “This policy provides a science-based approach to expedite the recovery of bobwhite populations following habitat restoration.”
Dr. Terhune, whose research with TTRS provided the scientific basis for the policy emphasized, “Suitable habit is the most important step to restoration success and must first be established before a translocation occurs.”
Development of the current translocation policy guidelines began in 1997, initiated by WRD and with input from TTRS based on research. The policy standards permit the translocation of wild bobwhites from private land with high density populations to lands with newly developed high quality habitat (1,500+ acres) and ongoing management that have low density bobwhite populations. The policy was finalized in 2006, and since that time Georgia has participated in the movement of 1,275 birds to five properties. Through this policy and the efforts of TTRS working with dedicated private landowners, bobwhites have been restored across 18,700 acres.
The Legacy Landscape for quail lies in the Red Hills portion of the Albany/Red Hills region between Thomasville and Tallahassee, while the Albany portion is located on the Dougherty Plain in southwest Georgia. This region is a unique, diverse landscape of expansive pine savanna harboring the largest bobwhite population in the southeastern U.S., with populations sustained at high densities across a contiguous managed landscape. More than 700,000 acres are managed across more than 200 properties using frequent prescribed fire to mimic and restore the natural fire history. This is the only region in the Southeast that has consistently applied prescribed fire to the land in natural frequency for over 100 years and it is home to the best quality remnants of old-growth longleaf pine forests. Additionally, the region has nearly a century of bobwhite research which continues today.