Originally Posted by knobmtn
I wouldn't count on the south for wild quail. A few years back I worked some dogs for 2 doctors from Macon, Ga. They were old country boys and resourceful men. They hunted their quail in Texas. They also liked to hunt grouse with me in Pa. They claimed except for a few plantations in south Georgia that there were no truly wild, huntable quail in Ga. They claimed that the plantations that offer quail hunting were supplementing the populations with hidden johnny houses.
I believe that.
My unscientific opinion is that the decline has as much to do with genetics as with habitat. Literally, millions of domesticated quail have been released over the years. Many of these have cross-bred with the wild strain. I imagine that that has a lot to do with the way things are now. One of the few birds that sustains itself well in the east as long as it has decent habitat is the grouse. They are one of the few gamebirds that cannot be raised in captivity.
I have raised many kinds of gamebirds. For those that don't know, you can get a species that has been selectively bred for a variety of traits. A couple examples: jumbo bobwhites are popular with people who raise gamebirds. These are about twice the size of a wild bobwhite and are not nearly as good a flyer. The same is true of jumbo pheasants. They are the same species but have been genetically altered by selective breeding.
Another example. A pekin duck is genetically a mallard. They are the result of centuries of selectively breeding mallards for white color and meat production. Today, the pekin is an all white duck that is 3-4 times the size of a mallard and is too big to fly. Many of the pheasant and quail that are released are to wild birds what a pekin duck is to a mallard - the same species but not viable in the wild. A pekin, like a released pheasant or quail, will cross breed with mallards if given the opportunity. The result is offspring that is not adapted to survive in the wild.
Now the introduction of disease is another problem but we can save that for another time.
I am no scientist but in my simple logic, I don't think that releasing less-than-wild birds is going to anything but bad things for the wild populations.
Think about what would happen is we started releasing farm raised deer by the thousands every year. The wild deer would change as a species.