ALUM CREEK, WV (WOWK) — On Wednesday, Gov. Jim Jim Justice announced a new initiative to stock Bobwhite Quail at Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR) has stocked over 12,000 Bobwhite Quail so far and will continue supplying a total of 20,000 birds through October, depending on weather and habitat conditions. As part of the Governor’s Quail Stocking Initiative, the DNR has arranged habitat restoration projects at seven West Virginia WMAs.

The Northern Bobwhite Quail is a native species once found across the Mountain State, but the winters of 1977, 1978 and 1979 destroyed their population. In the 1920s, West Virginia’s Bobwhite population was at a peak when the state was primarily agricultural land, but the birds faced a strong decline in the last several decades.

“I’ve missed these little rascals, and lots of people have,” Gov. Justice said. “It’s a bird that has been here forever, and it’s wildlife we need to protect and bring back. This is a great step forward, and I’m proud to be part of this.”

Bobwhite Quail have been stocked at the following locations:

  • Burnsville Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Cross Creek Wildlife Management Area
  • Frozen Camp Wildlife Management Area
  • Greenbrier State Forest
  • Huttonsville State Farm Wildlife Management Area
  • Laurel Lake Wildlife Management Area
  • Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area

Transmitters have been put on some of the quail to observe survival and habitat use. Game cameras have also been positioned in various locations to watch through video and photos. Through this effort, landowners, hunters and bird watchers can once again hear the familiar Bobwhite whistle.

“We’re trying to bring back something that people have missed,” Gov. Justice said. “And for generations to come, if we’re able to bring quail back, people will get used to it and love it, and they’ll miss it if it ever leaves us again.”

The Governor’s Quail Stocking Initiative is part of a five-year project to reintroduce Northern Bobwhite Quail to the state.

To learn more, visit the DNR’s website.