Bobwhite quail just can't seem to catch a break. After years of struggling to remain financially capable of keeping the organization afloat, Quail Unlimited (QU) has finally conceded the fight and closed their doors. The loss of an organization rooted in the advancement of quail is a tough blow to the struggling species, but hope remains.
Bill E. Bowles, the outgoing president of QU, wrote in a statement to members, "We share in an obligation to our mission of supporting quail and youth. It is time for us to assure ourselves that we stay focused on our mission. It is my firm belief, at this time, that our beloved quail need us to unite our efforts. In the near future members will receive a letter from Quail Forever explaining exciting news and opportunities. We hope you will support them in these efforts. We all know that we are stronger when we work together for a common goal. Our quail and our youth will benefit from your membership in Quail Forever."
Quail Forever (QF) is the sister organization of Pheasants Forever (PF). The combined organizations wield the largest sword in the fight for preservation and restoration of pheasant and quail, as well as their habitat.
The QF website (www.quailforever.org) issues this welcome message, "Quail Forever is excited to welcome all former Quail Unlimited members and chapter officers into our covey. We need your help, but more importantly, quail need your continued support of quail habitat conservation."
PF/QF has acquired the membership list, website and logo of the now-defunct QU, and has hired four former QU employees who are working under short-term contracts to help reach out to disenfranchised members and chapters.
"Our goal, is to let those state and local volunteers know we welcome their passion into our organization," said Bob St. Pierre, QF/PF vice president of marketing. "We want them to join us as individuals or become newly-chartered chapters. We want to assemble the largest collective voice ever for upland wildlife, and we want to take that full audience to Washington to fight for a new farm bill and to do the same thing for state and local conservation."
QF is not alone in their fight for quail preservation and restoration. The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is the "unified range-wide strategy of 25 state wildlife agencies, with numerous conservation group and research institution partners, to achieve widespread restoration of native grassland habitats and huntable populations of wild quail."
"QU has been an engaged, supportive and valued partner of the NBCI from the beginning," said Don McKenzie, director of NBCI. "Challenges that led to the end of the organization were unrelated to the urgent importance and continuing opportunities and needs of its quail conservation mission. And while it's unfortunate they are closing their doors, there are other private conservation groups, including the Quail Coalition, Quail Forever and the Quail & Upland Wildlife Federation, involved in the 25-state NBCI effort that will not only welcome the dedicated efforts of the former QU members but also will continue to expand their respective roles and impact on quail restoration."
Quail Forever operates in a true grassroots fashion, empowering local chapters with the responsibility to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds will be spent. The benefits of seeing results locally helps drive interest in the cause.
When one door shuts, another door opens. Hopefully the open door at QF is one former members of QU will gladly walk through.
See you down the trail ...
Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.