Oklahoma Quail habitat to be Restored

At their December meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted a donation of $4,000 from the non-profit organization. The donation will be matched with $4,000 of Wildlife Restoration funds and will help restore native grasslands on the Packsaddle WMA.

“There is a 500-acre area on Packsaddle that was planted by the previous owner years ago in Old World bluestem. Unfortunately, this is a non-native grass that makes for very poor quail habitat, and it is also difficult to control. This donation will allow us to disc the soil and re-plant native grasses more beneficial to wildlife,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Quail Forever, a non-profit organization dedicated to quail conservation and education, was started in the summer of 2005 by its parent organization, Pheasants Forever. Quail Forever is focused on successful local chapter development, localized habitat initiatives, and national public policy leadership and advocacy.

“One of the great things about Quail Forever is that all the money that is raised here through our banquets stays here. This project at Packsaddle is a great example of the types of on-the-ground habitat projects we hope to help with more in the future,” said James Dietsch, president of the 89er Chapter of Quail Forever.

Sara Lyda, regional biologist for Quail Forever, said the young organization has a growing and diverse membership.

“We certainly have many dedicated quail hunters as members, but we also have a number of landowners, ag producers and general bird enthusiasts,” Lyda said. “Quail are a species that most everyone can identify with, and they are often an excellent indicator of the overall quality of the habitat. When we restore habitat for quail, we restore habitat for all grassland birds and a host of other wildlife species.”

To learn more about Quail Forever, log on centralokquailforever.com or call Sara Lyda at (405) 612-6889.

Also at the December meeting, Terry Swallow, Wildlife Department game warden stationed in Woods County, was awarded a pair of special honors. Swallow was named the 2006 Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Game Warden of the Year. Additionally, Swallow was presented with the Shikar Safari Officer of the Year award.

Shikar Safari is a 300-member international organization that has focused on wildlife conservation and wildlife law enforcement around the world since 1952.

Swallow has served the sportsmen and citizens of Oklahoma since 1979 when he began his career as a warden in Woods County. Swallow maintains excellent working relationships with landowners and outdoor enthusiasts in his county and is routinely involved in community events, including teaching four hunter education classes last year.

“Throughout his career, Terry has provided top-notch service to the sportsmen of the state and has been an excellent representative for the Wildlife Department,” said Larry Manering, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

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