By Joe Healy
This past March West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources was beginning a five-year project with the aim of restoring northern bobwhite quail to the state. A native species once found across West Virginia, bobwhite populations were devastated during the especially harsh winters of 1977, ’78 and ’79.
“There’s no question we’ve lost favorable habitat to quail over the last several decades,” Justice said, “however, there is still a significant amount of habitat for quail to flourish by starting this reintroduction program. Over the next few years we’re going to work so that our folks can once again hear that familiar bobwhite whistle.”
Justice continued: “Hunting, the appreciation of nature and fishing bring us back to our roots in so many different ways and are so good for all of us. It is a quieting and a stilling of our souls.”
At the urging of the governor, the DNR is working on a restoration project at the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area, in Logan County, enhancing habitat that will sustain bobwhite quail. Much of that work has been completed, and the DNR is working closely with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (which has expertise in bobwhite quail management) on the project. This past March 48 quail were captured in Texas and released at the Tomblin WMA. Transmitters were placed on some of the quail to monitor survival and habitat use.
According to West Virginia DNR Director Stephen McDaniel: “The DNR is charged with maintaining and protecting West Virginia’s wildlife. Committing staff and resources to help restore a species that has been in dramatic decline for over 40 years fits right into our mission. Sportsmen and women in this state are lucky to have a governor who continues to support these efforts.”