According to a recent press release by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), the mountain quail, a colorful and elusive game bird that is found in isolated locations throughout Nevada, is receiving a lot of attention from NDOW in an effort to learn more about the bird while working to ensure it doesn't become listed as a threatened species.
NDOW has drawn up plans to continue an aggressive trapping and transplant program to add birds to areas where mountain quail are known to exist, while introducing birds to areas that appear to have good habitat but do not have established populations of the bird.
"Mountain quail probably exist in all counties of the state except Clark," said Craig Mortimore, NDOW acting chief of game. "We're trying to get a better understanding of their population dynamics."
In recent years, NDOW has been obtaining mountain quail for its releases from China Lake Naval Weapons Center near Ridgecrest, Calif.
Plans are to continue to receive birds from that source for future releases in the state, at least on those years when populations are high enough to allow some to be removed.
Much of NDOW's release plan is focused on Lincoln County, which has similar habitat to China Lake.
The Delamar Mountain Range near Elgin and Mount Irish in central Lincoln County are two locations where the agency would like to introduce mountain quail.
Some of the other areas of the state where biologists hope to eventually release birds are Bruneau Wildlife Management Area in Elko County, Trail Canyon and Magruder Mountain in Esmeralda County and the Clan Alpine Range, Desatoya Mountains and Stillwater Mountains in Churchill County.
"It's a struggle to understand their dynamics in our state. They're difficult to survey because of the terrain and dense habitat in which they're normally found. And we have very little harvest data from hunters because so few birds are taken," said Mortimore.
Mountain quail are usually found in dense brush on mountainous terrain.
They are not normally found in large groups and they are reluctant to fly, often preferring to elude predators by running away from them.
Several groups have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have mountain quail listed as a threatened species.
The groups have expressed concerns that mountain quail numbers are diminishing.
NDOW biologists are working to expand the distribution and total number of birds that are found in the state while ensuring the future of mountain quail in Nevada.
Mountain quail are a large, elegant quail that are chestnut and gray with a long straight plume.
They are found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Nevada.
The birds have been introduced to Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
Hunting is permitted for mountain quail in Nevada during established hunting seasons. Harvest limits are very restrictive and hunters are asked by NDOW to provide the agency with locations and dates that they harvested the birds.