LITTLE ROCK - Conservationists have a new way to contribute to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s efforts at replacing wildlife habitat for the northern bobwhite, thanks to a new Quail Conservation Stamp available through the AGFC licensing system.


The voluntary stamp was added to the section of available hunting permits at www.agfc.com/license, but is not required for any hunting activity. Commissioners hope many conservation-minded hunters will add the stamp to their license purchases to help contribute to quail restoration efforts in the state.


Former Commission Chairman Steve Cook, who introduced the idea of the stamp last year, said he personally purchased two duck stamps every year to help contribute to waterfowl conservation and knew many people who didn’t hunt still purchased the stamp to contribute to wetland conservation.


“These stamps are a great way for people to show their support of wildlife conservation, and many have become collectors’ items,” Cook said. “It’s as much about promoting the idea of conservation as it is about the money derived from the stamp.”


Each stamp costs $4.50, which is earmarked for activities to put more quail habitat on the ground. The habitat not only supports northern bobwhite, but a host of ground-nesting birds, including turkeys, as well as many pollinating species essential to Arkansas agriculture.


“Early successional habitat is much more rare than it was decades ago,” said Chris Colclasure, AGFC deputy director. “We have forests that have grown too thick, and we have agricultural land that is streamlined for production, but we’re missing that prairie and edge habitat where many species thrive.”


The image of the quail hen tending to her chicks in brood-rearing cover was illustrated by AGFC graphic artist Greta James. James also is the creative talent behind the latest two versions of the AGFC’s award-winning conservation license plate.


Colclasure says much thought was placed in the components portrayed in the finished image.


“The focus was to show native wildflowers and vegetation, combined with the bare ground essential to quail survival,” Colclasure said. “Birds need that bare ground to be able to move without being hindered so they can escape predators.”


Colclasure says much of the public perceives bobcats, coyotes and other predators as the driving force behind quail and turkey declines, but that’s only partially correct. Quail still exist in many areas of Arkansas and other portions of the nation alongside the same predators they always have coexisted with. The difference is a lack of habitat that enables quail to feed and find shelter from these predators. In the end, a predator does kill the birds more efficiently, but it’s the habitat change that allows it to happen.


Some of the funds derived from the stamp will be spent in Arkansas’s quail focal areas, which are intensively managed areas on public land to serve as examples of quail habitat for recovery. Other proceeds will go toward efforts on private ground to connect remaining pockets of quail and allow more expansion of the birds throughout the state.


Stamps are available in person at all AGFC regional offices, as well as the AGFC headquarters in Little Rock. People also may purchase through the online licensing system at www.agfc.com/license, and the inaugural Arkansas Quail Conservation Stamp will be mailed to their door.