By John Palarski, WPQP Biologist and Brad Kubečka, PhD, WPQP Director, originally published in the Summer 2022 edition of Quail Call.
Thanks to collaboration between Tall Timbers and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Western Pineywoods Quail Program (WPQP) was able to add a new biologist to the team. John Palarski joined WPQP in January 2022 to help provide additional support throughout the region for landowners interested in quail management. John, who is originally from Wisconsin, completed his Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology at the University of North Dakota before moving to Texas to complete his Master’s degree at Tarleton State University.
At Tarleton, John studied the effects of source populations on bobwhite translocation. John’s unique background and experience with bobwhite management and translocation is a great asset to WPQP and Tall Timbers, especially for upcoming projects.
WPQP’s inaugural project in Polk County, Texas is moving forward as extensive habitat management has been implemented. The property has undergone timber thinning on well over 3,000 acres, with more slated for summer and fall of 2022. Additionally, prescribed fire and hardwood removal are being implemented to promote a diverse understory and mitigate predator habitat. Call counts (spring whistle and fall covey) have been conducted on the site and indicate there is no resident bobwhite population. As expected, the lack of a resident population in the area has stifled any natural recolonization that may have occurred from habitat restoration.
As a result, translocation of wild bobwhite is planned for the site in 2023, marking the first east Texas bobwhite research project in three decades. Tall Timbers’ WPQP PhD student, Trey Johnson, is currently collecting data to study the effects of habitat restoration and translocation on the Polk County property. We are looking forward to sharing the results of this project in the near future. In addition to research and restoration efforts in Polk County, WPQP has expanded across east Texas and southwest Arkansas to meet with private and public stakeholders interested in bobwhite management. WPQP staff have met with numerous landowners and provided management plans and recommendations designed to increase bobwhite populations. Since last year, WPQP personnel have visited and written management plans for 23,000 acres of private lands. East Texas is home to over half a million acres of forest managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS).
These forests provide some of the only public land hunting opportunities in Texas and have tremendous opportunity to support robust populations of game species, like bobwhite. WPQP recognizes the opportunity that exists on these public lands and hopes to collaborate with USFS to implement more intensive management for bobwhite. Current discussions are underway to identify opportunities for quail management on public lands, which would be a massive gain for the quail hunting community in the region. Current and future programmatic efforts conducted by WPQP will continue to promote bobwhite management on both public and private lands throughout the “Western Pineywoods.”
For more information about the Western Pineywoods Quail Program and our efforts, or to support the WPQP endowment campaign, please contact Dr. Brad Kubečka at firstname.lastname@example.org.