State allocating $6 million to restore quail populations

Bird has seen steady population decline in Texas

SAN ANTONIO – The state of Texas has dedicated millions of dollars to help in the fight to boost quail populations.

"There are a lot of generations now that haven't even seen a quail," said Matt Reidy, a wildlife biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The bird, once popular among Texas hunters, has seen a serious decline over the past decade in the state. Researchers believe that it is due to a loss of habitat.   

"It's a bird that is really unique in that it needs specific habitats, and those habitats are declining," said Reidy.

Reidy also noted that bobwhite quails are a good indicator of the health of grasslands, thus determining how well other species can survive in the habitat. 

Rancher Frates Seeligson, who owns close to 5,200 acres near Stockdale, Texas, along with other landowners, has been helping fight the issue. Seeligson joined forces with Texas Parks and Wildlife four years ago and began the long process of restoring his land to its natural state. The move was intended to bring back native species. 

"It's not necessarily quail, while I love quail, and the quail are a game species and there's a lot of money in hunting quail; it's more for doing the program to get to the proper habitat and the balance that nature intended for this part of the state," said Seeligson. 

Seeligson believes the move has paid off. Now the state is also pitching in, to the tune of $6 million, to further fund restorations similar to what has taken place on Seeligson's land. The hope is that quail will return to the area, and by most accounts, it is a process that has already started.

According to Seeligson, he recently discovered multiple coveys of quails on his land, for the first time in 15 years -- an indication, he believes, that the program was working. 

About the Author:

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.