Relationships of Fur Market Conditions to Texas Quail Populations

Quail are declining throughout much of their range in the southeastern United States. The reason for this decline is unknown. However, the decline of fur prices during the late 1980s fueled a hypothesis that furbearer harvest has decreased, which in turn led to an increase in furbearer abundance, and a subsequent decrease in quail numbers. To evaluate this hypothesis, we attempted to correlate raccoon (Procycon lotor) fur prices, furbearer and raccoon harvest, and furbearer and raccoon abundance with abundance of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) and scaled quail (Callipepla squamata) for 1980-1999 in 3 ecological regions of Texas. Data supported the hypothesis that declining fur prices were associated with decreasing furbearer harvest. However, there was no increase in furbearer abundance and no correlation between raccoon fur prices, furbearer harvest, or furbearer density with quail abundance. We conclude that available data do not support the assumption that a decline in fur prices and the subsequent decrease in furbearer harvest has led to an increase in furbearer numbers and a subsequent decrease in quail numbers.

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