July 24, 2016
In his opening statement last Wednesday as the new chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Fred Brown of Corning committed to restoring bobwhite quail in Arkansas.
Brown said he has just two priorities in his final year on the commission, and quail restoration is premier. To that end he and director Jeff Crow will assemble a quail task force, appointing commissioners Ken Reeves and Ford Overton as co-chairmen. Reeves, of Harrison, is a lifelong quail hunter who has been vocal and active about directing the commission’s attention to restoring native upland grassland habitat.
“We’ve talked about quail a great deal, but we haven’t done anything, really,” Brown said. “I don’t know if we can bring them back, but we won’t know unless we try.”
Brown cited two other restoration success stories as precedents.
“Elk were exterminated, and we brought them back,” Brown said. “The bear population was wiped out, and now it’s a huntable population.”
Brown said the two most junior commissioners, Joe Morgan of Little Rock and Bobby Martin of Rogers, will be the most important players.
“They have six and seven years left, so they have the most time to work on it,” Brown said.
Brown acknowledged that chronic wasting disease has absorbed much of the commission’s attention this year, but he said the agency is capable of handling multiple projects simultaneously.
“I know CWD hit the agency, and I commend Wildlife [management division] and other people that came in and helped them,” Brown said. “At the same time we’ve got other things going on, and we can do more than one thing at a time. We’re going to get on this quail habitat thing.”
Overton said that Morgan will be a crucial contributor to quail restoration.
“Probably nobody knows more about quail hunting than Joe Morgan,” Overton said. “That’s what he grew up doing.”
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