Quail Restoration Initiative
Northern Bobwhite Management in Tennessee
The Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) is the state game bird of Tennessee and an important part of the state’s landscape and heritage. Northern Bobwhite populations have declined dramatically range-wide since the 1950s, primarily due to landscape-scale habitat conversion and loss.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) collaborates with a myriad of partners to foster robust, self-sustaining Northern Bobwhite populations by enhancing existing and developing new habitats across the state.
The vision of this plan is: To rebuild, manage, and monitor Northern Bobwhite populations in suitable habitats while partnering with stakeholders and continuously evaluating conservation efforts with an adaptive management approach.
The northern bobwhite quail is Tennessee’s state game bird and historically was a prominent game bird across the southeastern United States. Unfortunately, due to the large scale loss of farmland, changes in agriculture, and increases in forest land, quail habitat has been reduced or eliminated. As a result, the northern bobwhite population in the U.S. has been on a decline.
The TWRA has designated five of its wildlife management areas (WMAs) to serve as anchors within a quail focal area (see map below.) They are Wolf River WMA (Fayette County), Bark Camp Barrens WMA (Coffee County), Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness WMA (White County), Kyker Bottoms WMA and Lick Creek Bottoms WMA (Greene County).
The anchor areas act as reserves where wildlife management efforts are focused on maximizing ideal habitat and conditions to foster healthy quail populations. As the quail population increases, it should expand out into the surrounding focus area if suitable habitat exists. The focal area is comprised of private and other public lands that have the potential to provide suitable quail habitat. The Wolf River WMA is a focal area for the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative, a multistate initiative of 22 states that are working to increase quail numbers. https://bringbackbobwhites.org/conservation/nbci-focal-area/
Landowners interested in improving their lands for quail should contact their local TWRA or Quail Forever Habitat Biologist. These biologists will meet with landowners or property managers and develop a habitat management plan at no charge and provide other advice, such as programs that can provide financial assistance for creating and managing wildlife habitat.