North Carolina – Loss of Habitat Continuing its Effect on Birds

Forecast: North Carolina's 2012-13 season will be average in areas with adequate weather and habitat, according to Mark Jones, private lands supervising wildlife biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. North Carolina, unlike the Midwest, had fair weather with plenty of rain; however, the largest problem faced by southeastern quail hunters is the significant degradation of quality quail habitat. In the southern quail belt many quail populations are tied to forest lands, and with forest management practices now engulfed in fire suppression, mowing of edges and hedges, and planting of nonnative, sod-forming grasses, quail have had a near impossible chance at rebounding populations to historic levels.

In the state’s June 2012 Breeding Quail Call Survey, a total of 210 calling male quail were detected statewide. Quail were heard at 104 of the 315 active stops (33%). Quail were more abundant in the coastal region, averaging 20.7 birds per route. Historic trends suggest the continued annual decline (-4.0%) of quail across the state.

Jones recommends hunting along the Coastal Plains east of I-95 on farm land properly managed for quail. Public land hunters should look at one of the four state managed quail lands, including the Holly Shelter Game Lands, which holds good numbers of birds, but is difficult to hunt due to its expansive size.

Season Dates: November 17, 2012 through February 28, 2013
Daily Bag Limit: 6
Possession Limit: 12
Field Notes: North Carolina has a lottery hunt available through the wildlife commission which boasts some of the best public quail hunting opportunities in the southeast. This program is in conjunction with corporate landowners who intensively manage for quail. See North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission for more information on lottery details.

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