MSU researcher recognized for contributions to quail conservation


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Posted: 9/14/2005


An avian ecologist and wildlife and fisheries professor at Mississippi State University is receiving a major regional honor for his contributions to the conservation of bobwhite quail.

Wes Burger's recent presentation of the Southeast Quail Study Group Annual Award puts him in the select company of only eight others who have received the award since the group was formed in 1995. Burger was recognized for his key leadership in the Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative that seeks to restore quail to their 1980 levels across the species' range.

Burger has worked with numerous private, state and federal agencies throughout the Southeast during his nearly two decades of quail research. He currently coordinates the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Northern Bobwhite Habitat Restoration Project that supports research and demonstration projects evaluating wildlife response to farm bill conservation practices.

He also spearheads the national monitoring program evaluating bobwhite and grassland songbird responses to a new Conservation Reserve Program practice entitled CP33-Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds.

The Southeast Quail Study Group involves more than 200 wildlife professionals from state and federal agencies, universities and private organizations. Co-sponsored by Quail Unlimited, Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Wildlife Society/Southeastern Section, SEQSG is the lead organization for developing strategies for quail conservation and restoration.

"Wes has been an integral part of the Southeast Quail Study Group since its inception," said group chairman Steve DeMaso of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "He is a tremendous asset to the bobwhite community throughout the quail range."

As part of his work, Burger developed brochures for landowners on the use of agricultural field borders for bobwhite habitat for Mississippi, as well as Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee.

"In just the first half of his career, Wes has done more for quail, not only in Mississippi, but throughout the range of the species than most researchers accomplish in a lifetime," said Dave Godwin of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the study group's chairman-elect.

Burger also has developed geospatial models that predict bobwhite quail habitat for the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, as well as the Central Hardwoods and the Southeast Coastal Plain regions, Godwin added. The information is used by biologists and state agencies to develop and preserve bobwhite habitat in nine different states and throughout one-third of the bobwhites range.

In August 2004, President George W. Bush announced a major bobwhite habitat initiative to help launch the NBCI restoration process. The partnership, which is fueled by a 250,000-acre enrollment authority under the federal Conservation Reserve Program, already is credited with creating more than 51,000 acres for bobwhites and other birds.

Burger was among four scientists presenting research findings on the Presidential Bobwhite Initiative in Conservation Reserve Program at the recent White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation.

Burger holds a bachelor's degree from Murray (Ky.) State University and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri.

NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For additional information on quail research, contact Dr. Burger at (662) 325-8782 or

Wildlife and Fisheries