Midsummer Quail Report: New Mexico

4f97e564-f50c-41aa-9379-4a7194c8e9aa By Chad Love - Editor, Quail Forever
 

Weather

"It has been a very dry year in New Mexico, with much of the state experiencing severe or extreme drought conditions,” says Casey Cardinal, resident game bird biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish. “The number of quail pairs observed throughout the breeding season without chicks suggests that some nesting attempts may be delayed or have failed early. Chick survival could be low this year as drought conditions reduce the amount of forbs and insects available on the landscape. New Mexico’s monsoon season is predicted to be beneficial, so late hatches may have a better chance at survival.”
 

Habitat

“There was residual cover from the previous year, but the intensifying drought has produced dry conditions across the quail range,” says Cardinal. “Precipitation was more ideal in the southeast the last couple of years, so habitat coming into the drought was better. The southwest has been dry the last few years, and this year seems to be no different.”
 

Programs

“The BLM’s Restore New Mexico Initiative is still active, restoring disturbed lands on a landscape scale,” says Cardinal. “Some of the projects undertaken in the initiative include controlling invasive brush species, improving riparian habitat, reducing woodland encroachment, and reclaiming abandoned oil and gas well pads.  All these activities could positively impact quail habitat.”
 

Prospects

"We entered 2018 with decent numbers of quail on the landscape from previous years," says Cardinal. "The drought conditions may have caused New Mexico’s quail populations to dwindle some, and reproduction may be lower this year.  There should still be some decent hunting opportunities in pockets across the state, but harvest may be lower than the last few years."