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Upland Gamebird Projects - Mountain Quail Translocation

Three Adult Quails

Mountain quail populations have declined in many areas of the western Great Basin, particularly across former ranges in southeastern Washington, western Idaho, and eastern Oregon. Strategies for restoring declining wildlife populations have been largely reactive with recovery programs typically initiated only after populations or suitable habitats reached critically low levels. Restoration plans were often implemented without a clear understanding of the life-history or habitat requirements of a species. Mountain quail are a good candidate for translocations, because this species is highly productive with large clutches (10-12 eggs/clutch), and has a highly varied, mostly herbivorous diet. Currently, western Oregon has abundant and easily accessible populations of mountain quail that serve as a source for re-establishing or supplementing populations in areas of eastern Oregon where populations are rare or have been extirpated.

In 2001, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Game Bird Program at Oregon State University initiated a mountain quail translocation and research program for eastern Oregon. The goal of this project was to implement a restoration plan for mountain quail in eastern Oregon based on translocations of mountain quail from southwestern Oregon to former ranges in eastern Oregon. An important component of this effort is to evaluate the success of these translocations by monitoring radio-marked individuals. Information from monitoring will be used to determine habitat use, survival, movements, and reproductive success of radio-marked mountain quail. Movements will be monitored from the ground or from fixed wing aircraft from March - August.

Mountain quail were trapped from Douglas and Jackson counties using traps baited with grain. Trapping was initiated in November and continued until February of each year. The birds were then banded, weighed and placed in a holding facility at the Roseburg ODFW office or the E. E. Wilson Wildlife Area. Before release, the birds were aged [hatch-year (HY) or after-hatch-year (AHY)], re-weighed and fitted with a necklace-style radio transmitter weighing approximately 3.8 g. Blood was extracted from each bird for gender identification because biologist cannot distinguish gender based on plumage. In 2005, quail were released at 3 locations in eastern Oregon: Fly Creek near Sisters, Oregon in the Deschutes National Forest (DNF), Wolf Creek in the Malheur National Forest (MNF), northeast of Burns, Oregon, and on Steens Mountain, south of Burns. Additionally, a sample of non-radioed but banded quail were released with the radio-marked birds at all locations. In past years, releases were also made at the Murderer’s Creek Coordinated Resource Area (MCCRA) and the Ochoco National Forest (ONF). Following a very successful year in 2005, future releases are being planned for Steens Mountain where quail were historically abundant but likely have been absent from the mountain since 1982.

For information about the mountain quail translocation and for photos please click on the following links:

This project simply would not be possible without the contributions from the following cooperators: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Game Bird Research Program-Oregon State University, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Quail Unlimited, Oregon Hunter’s Association, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

Summary for Mountain Quail translocation project
Year Release Location Radio-marked non-radio (Banded) Total
1999 Hart Mountain NAR 8 12 20
2001 Murderer’s Creek Coordinated Res. Area 69 47 116
2002 Murderer’s Creek Coordinated Res. Area & Ochoco National Forest 75 18 93
2003 Murderer’s Creek Coordinated Res. Area & Deschutes National Forest 132 139 271
2004 Deschutes National Forest & Malheur National Forest
89 26 115
2005 Deschutes National Forest, Malheur National Forest & Steens Mountain
144 52 196
2006 Steens Mountain
80 48 128
2007 Steens Mountain 63 27 90
2008 Trout Creek Mountains 49 62 111
2009 Trout Creek Mountains 50 69 119
2010 Trout Creek Mountains 49 141 190
2012 GearHart Mt., W. Lake Co. 50 139 189
GRAND TOTAL 908 859 1,767

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