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Game Commission pledges $250K for quail management plan

| Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, 5:18 p.m.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Game Commissioners heard that the agency hasn't made bobwhite quail more of a priority in the past because it didn't have the money to do so.

On Tuesday, they took away that excuse.

In approving an oil and gas lease that will bring in $3 million up front, commissioners earmarked $250,000 to start implementing its quail management plan.

That plan was adopted by the board in October 2011. Nothing's been done with it since, however.

“The bobwhite quail plan is significantly behind schedule, and the reason it's significantly behind schedule has been a lack of funding,” said commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County.

Cal DuBrock, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife management, said Monday the agency was going to allocate $30,000 this winter to contract with outside researchers to at least figure out if there are any wild quail left in the state, where they might be and what the prospects for recovery are.

The money from the oil and gas lease increases that budget considerably and sets the stage for more work to get done, commissioners said.

They didn't identify which of the plan's goals or objectives biologists must address first.

That will be up to staff, said commissioner Jay Delaney of Luzerne County.

“I don't think we have any preconceived thoughts right now. I'm just excited that we now have a plan to move forward with this,” Delaney said.

Earmarking funding specifically for one project — rather than it going into the general fund, with agency staff deciding where to use it — is not something the board has done often, Putnam said. It's not something he routinely favors either, he said.

But in this case, to get the quail plan in motion, he supported the idea.

Commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle did not.

He voted against the allocation because it's not the board's place to get involved in the day-to-day running of the agency, he said.

“It was, I think, a departure for the board to get involved in operations and out of the realm of policy. I'm not comfortable with getting into operations,” Martone 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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