Once a regional icon of the Keystone State, the northern bobwhite quail was extirpated from Pennsylvania in the early 2000’s due to extreme habitat loss and changing agricultural practices. But now, thanks to the foresight of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and contributing partners, the storybook for bobwhites is being rewritten in spectacular fashion.
After developing a comprehensive management plan for bobwhite reintroduction, work began in 2017 at Pennsylvania’s Letterkenny Army Depot Bobwhite Quail Focus Area with a goal of restoring at least 1,500 acres of suitable quail habitat and growing outward with the help of partners and private landowners. Since that time, managers have completed 1,231 acres of prescribed fire treatments, removed over 450 acres of overstory, and completed over 31 acres of disking and over 52 acres of herbicide treatments directly related to quail habitat management.
As part of this effort, the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Pheasants Forever purchased a 12-foot offset disc for $3,000, for managers to use in establishing early-successional quail habitat with strip discing, fire breaks and other upland habitat management techniques. Once suitable habitat has been restored, translocated wild quail from various source states will be released in the focus area and combined with intense monitoring to determine success.