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Game Commission to look for quail

| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 11:24 p.m.

Unable to get wild pheasants, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is shifting some of its focus to bobwhite quail.

Speaking at the agency's quarterly board meeting in Delmont on Monday, Cal DuBrock, director of the bureau of wildlife management, said the commission will not be getting any wild pheasants from South Dakota or any other states to release onto its wild pheasant recovery areas this fall.

The recovery areas are places where the commission and sportsmen volunteers from Pheasants Forever worked to create pheasant habitat. The plan was to stock them with imported wild birds and close them to hunting in an attempt to jump-start a local population.

But there are no birds to be had this year. South Dakota and other states have seen their own pheasant numbers decline as a result of recent harsh winters, making them hesitant to share any of what's left, DuBrock said.

One result is that the commission is going to shift some of its attention to bobwhite quail.

The agency adopted a quail management plan in October 2011 that called for figuring out if and where wild bobwhite quail remain in the state and developing ways to bring populations back. In the two years since, none of that work has been done.

Commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County on Monday again asked why that is.

A lack of resources is the answer, DuBrock said. The commission hasn't had the people or money to do much with quail, he said.

But he added the commission is hoping to get started on the quail plan soon, primarily by contracting with outside researchers to document whether there are any quail in Pennsylvania, where they are, and whether they are wild birds or captive ones stocked for dog training purposes.

“We're trying to get a pulse on where we are before we leap forward to where we're going,” he said.

Delaney said he's eager for that work — for any quail work — to get started.

“I think personally it should be prioritized,” he said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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