In Jim Casada's article about the decline of quail four major points are covered.
Explaining what the quail population was like in the South makes the first point. The author talks about how two generations ago quail were located all over the South. He describes how, "every pea field corner and overgrown fence row, every sweep of broom sedge and span of longleaf pines was home to one or more coveys."ÃÂ (p44) The author then tells of how there was a decline in quail population. He says that hunting of quail was an exercise in futility. In this section of the article you are given a good look at what the quail population was like years ago and what it is like today after the quails decline.
The second point of the article describes what the circumstances were that caused the quail population to decline. The first reason for the decline in quail is the increase in predators.
Raccoons, opossums, skunks, coyotes, and foxes are all predators of the quail. During the period of time that the quail populations were high none of these predators had high populations. These predators were either hunted or trapped by most farmers for their fur or because they were a nuance to farmers. The author believes that the greatest threat to the quail is predation by raptors. Hawks use to be actively hunted or killed because they were a threat to farmer's chickens. Now raptors are under Federal protection, which has greatly increased their numbers. This is what the author believes has wreaked havoc on the quail population. Raptors are either killing quail or keeping coveys broken up by harassing the birds. Another circumstance for the quail's decline is the decreasing numbers of tenant farmers. Most of these farmers enjoyed hunting quail and as discussed earlier controlled the predator population. These farmers would leave the edges of fields uncut, which provided food and cover for the quail. As the numbers of farmers declined so did the quail population. The last circumstance would be the logging industry. After land was cleared cut pines were replanted. In the early years they provided a good habitat, but later in life they are not. The pines are usually planted to closely together and as they grow not much small undergrowth is allowed to grow. This low undergrowth is perfect habitat for quail.
The third point of the article tells how to solve the problem of declining quail populations. No-till farming is helping the quail population. This farming practice in soybean fields provides an equivalent to fallow fields in the production of food for the quail. By far the most effective way to solve the problem is effective management. This includes the trapping of predators during the winter, the practice of letting forest fires burn, and the use of field border systems. The author also believes that attitudes toward raptors need to change. Quail management areas are also praised for their practice of releasing large numbers of pen-raised quail. Predators take a toll on a lot of these birds but this does not have a great affect because of the large numbers that are released.
The last point of the article discusses the role of hunting and tips for today's hunters. The author believes that you should take part in Quail Unlimited and if you are a farmer or landowner practice good management of habitat for quail. Some tips that are given for hunting quail are to: Be willing to go deep into habitat that is rugged, have a well trained and capable dog, and a change in gun or choke could be of help.
This article was for the most part one-sided. The author is concerned only for the well fare of quail. He speaks of how a reduction or extermination of predators would benefit the quail population. He has no concern for the effects this would have on the predators who are a natural species that belong in the quail habitat. He is very frank in his belief that raptors should be reevaluated and taken out of Federal protection. He believes that people need to change their attitudes toward raptors and see how much damage they cause to other species. It is also apparent that the author is in support of quail management for the sole purpose of hunting. I am a hunter and believe in game management for this purpose, but shouldn't game also be managed to ensure that they be in their natural habitat as they have been throughout time.
My opinion of the article is a good one. I believe that the author had many good points about the management of quail and the circumstance for the decline in population. The article was one sided but the points the author made were valid. It is clear that he knows what does and doesn't have an effect on quail, and what ideally should be done to restore the population of quail that existed two decades ago.