The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is joining with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a program designed to increase the quail population. D-N-R wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says the quail population has been steadily declining since the 1970’s. He says in the early 60’s hunters in Iowa used to harvest one million quail — but in the last several years that’s dropped to 150-thousand. He says we have between 20 and 30-thousand people who hunt quail. Bogenschutz says the advent of larger farms and weed-killing chemicals cut down on the quail habitat, leading to the decline.He says bigger farms have led to fewer woody fence rows and brush draws. He say cleaner fields due to chemicals have cut down the weedy areas that the quail like. Bogenschutz says the program seeks to restore some of that quail habitat on farms. He says the program puts a buffer of 30 to 120 feet around the edge of crop fields. He says the buffers allow the birds to move around like the old weedy fields of the past. He says the Bobwhite quail initiative offers a 90 percent cost share for installing the buffer, a first year bonus payment of 100 dollars per acre, and will pay the average county rental payment for the 10-year contract. Bogenschutz says interested landowners should talk to their local D-N-R wildlife biologist or go to their U-S-D-A office.
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