Jeff Hintz and I had the opportunity today to harass an endangered species. It is something that you could get you in legal trouble but in this case it was at the invitation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Wild Masked Bobwhite are feared to be extinct with the last ones seen in Sonora around 2000. U.S. Fish and Wildlife is working to reestablish a wild population of Masked Bobwhite Quail at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Southern Arizona. Captive raised quail are placed in call back pens and released during the day and allowed to return to the pens later in the day. During their time released the birds are harassed or hazed by people and dogs to instill a fear of predators. Their time in the pens will end after a little over 3 weeks total when the birds are released and the pens removed. Most of these birds slated for final release next week are 2-4 years old. The last releases were attempted about 10 years ago and were not deemed successful.
Another group of birds is planned to be released in early 2018. I will share information on dates available for the next round as they are made available. It is a rare chance to get your dog on point with a Masked Bobwhite Quail. Thanks to Rebecca Chester for setting up the opportunity. Josh Smith from U.S. Fish and Wildlife will be at our Quail Festival this weekend and can give you more info.