ABILENE – The Texas AgriLife Extension Service will join several other state and national agencies and Texas conservation groups in in hosting the 18th annual National Bobwhite Technical Committee meeting Aug. 7-10 at the MCM Elegante Hotel in Abilene.
“Our theme is ‘Quail Conservation in the Lone Star State,’” said Dr. Dale Rollins, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo. “We want to celebrate our legacy of quail hunting and management while casting a wary eye to recent declines in abundance.
“Those of us in Texas thought we were immune to the decline of wild quail that has gripped bobwhites across the southeastern U.S. since 1980. But unfortunately, the past three years have us thinking otherwise, that indeed our wild quail legacy is at risk.”
Rollins said the instruction is tailored more to stimulate intellectual exchange of ideas for professional wildlife personnel, but anyone with a serious interest in the birds could benefit.
“We expect an audience of about 150 quail folk from across the bobwhite’s range, plus any Texans we attract for the general session on Aug. 8. Due to the depth of the subject matter, I expect most of those who will attend will probably be state wildlife agency employees.
“This trip to the western edge of the bobwhite’s range will be an eye-opener for most of these biologists,” he said. “They’re used to getting 40 inches or more of rainfall annually, while we struggle to get 20. Those high rainfall amounts affect the manager’s opportunity to use tools like grazing and prescribed burning — ecologically speaking. Here, things just happen more slowly.
The Aug. 7 agenda will consist of registration, in-house committee meetings and a welcome reception set from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the hotel. The Aug. 10 schedule offers a similar slate.
Rollins said the general sessions at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 should hold the most interest to Texans interested in quail management. To accommodate them, a special day-registration fee of $35 has been planned for those sessions only which includes lunch.
Rollins said the Aug. 8 sessions will focus on Texas quail conservation and feature presentations on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s quail efforts; the Bobwhite Brigade’s 20 years of youth involvement; quail, climate and weather; the Farm Bill as it relates to Texas quail; and updates on the National Bobwhite Quail Initiative and Texas quail happenings.
Events Aug. 9 will be highlighted by a field trip beginning at 11 a.m. with buses leaving at 11:30 a.m. Stops will include a wind farm tour and the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch. The tour will conclude with a banquet and awards presentations at the ranch pavilion.
The other agencies involved with the effort include Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Wildlife Association, Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch, Texas Tech University, Quail Coalition and the National Wild Turkey Federation.
“This annual meeting of quail scientists and managers from across the U.S. is important for idea exchange,” Rollins said. “I’ve always subscribed to President Woodrow Wilson’s notion that one should ‘use not only all the brains I have, but also all I can borrow,’ and that’s what we plan to do here in August.”
Except for the special Aug. 8-only registration of $35, preregistration for the entire event is $200 by July 16 and $250 thereafter. Student or spousal registration is an additional $165 and includes meals and the field trip.
The Texas Wildlife Association is handling registration via the website: http://www.texas-wildlife.org/resources/events/national-bobwhite-technical-committee .
For further information contact Helen Holdsworth at 210-826-2904, extension 120, or HHoldsworth@texas-wildlife.org .