Summer Quail Report: Nebraska

77721300-a4f5-4796-b3e0-5dbcfbb2a22a By Chad Love - Editor, Quail Forever

"The weather early on in the spring was ideal for promoting vegetation growth over much of the state, but there was a late April snowstorm that dumped large amounts of snow in western parts of the state," says Dr. Jeffrey J. Lusk, upland game program manager for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. "Further, although moisture was plentiful early on, temperatures were cool. Indications are that this might have delayed the onset of the nesting season. We also had a rather severe rain event during the nesting and early hatching season that might have impacted production. Summer temperatures so far have been hot. We seemed to go from abnormally cool to abnormally hot within the span of a few days.  Whether it has been hot enough to affect chick survival is uncertain."
"As I indicated above, early spring moisture was good over much of the state," says Lusk. "However, as spring progressed, things started drying out in the southern portion of the state, which might have stunted growth. Since then, rain has lifted most of the state out of abnormally dry drought conditions, and only the extreme southeastern corner of the state remains in the D0: Abnormally Dry drought condition.  Given that I haven’t had reports of concern from field staff about habitat conditions, I’d say habitat is looking good at this point."
"On the public land side of things, we have the Early Successional Habitat program that seeks to reset early successional conditions beneficial to many upland game birds," says Lusk. "On private land, we have farm bill biologists across the state helping landowners navigate the available federal and state conservation programs. We also have an NBCI Quail Focal Area, called the Meridian Quail Initiative focus area, in Nebraska where we’re working with landowners to improve habitat for quail. Further, to increase the amount of land open to public hunting, we offer the Open Fields and Waters program to pay private landowners for hunting and fishing access where the best opportunities exist."
"Early spring surveys were down compared to 2017, but that might have been due to the late onset of spring this year," Lusk says. "I’m currently entering the simmer survey data and processing it, so we’ll have a better picture of what the fall might look like in a few weeks."