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“I am Conservation”

John Wheeler (right) of St. Joseph, with the help of his brother, Ron, has managed his land in Andrew County for upland birds for the past 10 years, but got really serious about it in 2004. “I’ve been a quail hunter more years than I can count,” said Wheeler, “and the dwindling quail population was really starting to bother me. So, I decided to do something.” In 2004 he applied for CRP and has expanded his habitat work every year since. His practices include restoring warm season grass, edge feathering, shrub plantings and controlled burns. They did whistle counts in 2004 and estimated a total of four to five coveys. Now, whistle counts suggest a total of 10 to 11 coveys. Wheeler said that success has been very rewarding, but he has even higher aims: “My ultimate goal is one covey for every 10 acres!” —Photo by David Stonner