ANNAPOLIS Hunting seasons for upland game species, including cottontail rabbit and bobwhite quail, are set to begin on Saturday, November 4.
Rabbits are abundant wherever brushy, weedy areas occur and can be hunted with or without dogs. Spending a morning walking through fields and woodlots in search of rabbits provides an active, enjoyable experience for all hunters. Rabbit hunting also represents one of the best opportunities to introduce junior hunters to hunting and the outdoors.
Based on annual bobwhite surveys, the lower Eastern Shore and certain areas of Southern Maryland hold the highest densities of quail, affording hunters in those regions the greatest chance for success. Although quail numbers have declined significantly, research shows that hunting is not the cause.
Habitat loss is the number one problem facing our quail populations, stated Bob Long, DNRs Upland Game Bird Project Manager. Quail thrive in brushy, weedy fields and hedgerows; habitats that were once common but have declined with changing land use in recent years.
There are a number of programs that provide incentives for landowners and farmers to establish quail habitat. A relatively new program called Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds has great potential to provide much needed habitat.
These buffers, coupled with a variety of other cost-share programs, now give landowners all the tools they need to make quail conservation a reality, Long added. We believe these initiatives will greatly improve quail and farmland wildlife habitat.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to explore a variety of research and management options, and has initiated a habitat restoration project at the Millington Wildlife Management Area (WMA). As a result, bobwhite quail hunting at the Millington WMA will be prohibited during the 2006-2007 hunting season in order to assess the benefits of ongoing management strategies. Hunting of other upland game will not be affected on Millington WMA.
We are encouraged by DNRs efforts to restore habitat and continuing to study the problems plaguing our quail population, stated Wade Teague, Regional Director for Quail Unlimited.
Hunting season for rabbits will remain open until February 1, which coincides with the season closing date for quail in the eastern zone. Quail season in the western zone will close January 15.
For more information on upland hunting regulations and public lands opportunities, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us, or consult the Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland 2006-2007. For more information on ways to improve quail and farmland wildlife habitat, contact Bob Long, DNRs Upland Game Bird Project Manager, at 410-221-8838, ext 106.