The South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative is a statewide effort established in 2015 to restore bobwhite populations to early-1980s levels. Based on a plan written by the SC Department of Natural Resources and supported nationally by the NBCI (National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative), the work is directed by the SC Quail Council, a group of government and non-governmental agencies, organizations, and individual landowners. These people bring a wide range of expertise, ideas, and endless enthusiasm to our common goal and are eager to see this part of our sporting heritage return to prominence.
If you've found this site you most likely know the story and status of bobwhites in South Carolina. Our state's heritage of quail hunting rivals those of Georgia and Texas, yet our bird populations continue to dwindle.
Many residents vividly recall hunting with a father or friend, often on the spur of the moment, and finding half a dozen coveys or more. Bird dogs were part of the family and after school hours were just as likely spent in a field as on a bicycle.
After more than 30 years of declines, we're in danger of losing an entire generation who have never heard a whistle. In addition, many other species of grassland birds are exhibiting substantial declines in SC. This is directly related to declines in the same type of habitat that supported robust quail populations for so many years.
The science exists to build and sustain proper quail landscapes as do the resources to put the science into practice. What’s been lacking is the muscle and effort to bring these together and put them to work. Two decades of attempting to restore bobwhites on both small and large tracts of land separated by miles of unmanaged acreage taught us that an uncoordinated approach simply doesn’t produce lasting results. Growing bobwhites requires many parties working together on timber management, prescribed fire, planting, discing, cutting, funding and cooperation between neighboring landowners across a wide landscape.
Building a section of sidewalk in front of a store is a nice feature but ultimately only benefits that single store. A sidewalk that connects every store on a city block, however, creates a feature that benefits all of the stores and people throughout the community. But block-long sidewalks don’t materialize overnight through the efforts of one person. Who leads such a project?
Until now a group that could lead a statewide effort to bring back bobwhites has not existed.
In December 2014, a group of state and federal agencies, conservation groups, sportsmen and landowners formed the South Carolina Quail Council with the goal of planning and carrying out a statewide recovery of bobwhites. Science-based approaches exist and have been proven around the country to have significant impact, often quadrupling quail populations in a few years. Implementing this science is the tough task and requires a coordinated effort between many organizations over a broad area of land.
The Council became the backbone of The South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative, combining existing science and available resources to launch a statewide strategic effort. Where random, isolated efforts have failed in the past, a prioritized plan on a landscape scale is necessary to create lasting results. State biologists identified four regions, called Focal Regions, covering almost 9 million acres of land that hold the highest potential for quickly growing coveys of bobwhites.
Every successful project begins with a good blueprint. This project is guided by a plan written by SCDNR personnel that prioritizes four regions within the state where the initial work will be concentrated.
Interested in being a part of this once in a generation project? Find out how you can help.