Why We Don't Stock Quail
We get a lot of questions from hunters about why we do not stock quail. Here are some insights from Department quail biologist Beth Emmerich:
At first glance, stocking seems to be an easy way to restore quail populations. Like many quick fixes, releasing pen-raised quail to restore a population does not bring lasting results, is expensive, may negatively affect wild populations and may reduce the focus on habitat restoration efforts. Not to mention it is a violation of the Wildlife Code of Missouri to liberate any wildlife to the wild (see 3 CSR 10-4.110).
Actually, the Department of Conservation experimented with stocking pen-raised quail in the 1940s and again in the late 1950s. The conclusion was stocking quail was ineffective at increasing populations. Biologists determined time and money would have been better spent on habitat management.
By the early 1990s, every state wildlife agency had stopped the practice of stocking quail because the practice was ineffective in restoring quail populations and did not address the real problem, which is a lack of suitable habitat. New systems for releasing captive-reared quail have been promoted and the results are the same--quail stocking is expensive and ineffective. The use of call back boxes, or even live call back birds can be used to lure the released birds back to the relative safety of the brooding systems that are usually set up to provide food and shelter. I have not heard of any scientific research that has shown any successes in using these methods to restore quail populations. Following is a few summaries from recent research on various release methods to increase quail populations.
During May 2005 to January 2006, a study was conducted on an approximate 1,000-acre portion of a private shooting preserve in Monroe County Georgia, Piedmont Physiographic Province, to assess the return to hunter bag and flight behavior of pen-reared bobwhites that were liberated prior to the hunting season using two release techniques. A total of 1,641 5-week-old wing tagged pen-reared bobwhites were released using the Surrogate Propagation™ system during June, August and September; and 1,000 12- to 16-week-old leg-banded bobwhites were “dump released” during November. Birds were liberated into intensively managed pine savanna habitat that included supplemental feeding and predator control. Fifteen horseback or wagon quail hunts totaling 70 hours were conducted during November to January with 21 different coveys located and 99 covey flushes. Ninety-three birds were harvested of which 81 percent