Wild bobwhite quail are disappearing from West Texas, one of the last places in the U.S. where until recently they thrived, raising concerns about the future of the state’s traditional quail hunt.
The ranchlands of Texas’ northwestern plains have long been considered one of the bird’s last bastions. But when an uptick in rain during the spring and summer of 2010 didn’t result as expected in many more birds than the year before, hunters began to fear that more than drought was harming the birds.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s 2010 quail survey backed up the hunters’ anecdotal reports. It found eight quail per area measured, far below the longtime mean of 21. In 2011, the survey showed 5.3 birds per area measured.