ODWC has tagged quail on those public hunting areas with radio transmitters and leg bands to learn more about their mortality.
Quail hunters on those wildlife management areas are being asked to assist in the research by leaving the wings and heads of the birds in donor barrels.
Current research in Texas shows that parasitic worms have been found at record high levels in the eyes and intestines of quail. The parasites are suspected of being at least partly to blame for the birds' demise.
The worms also have been discovered in Oklahoma bobwhites, Peoples said.
“We do think parasites have been magnified because of the drought situation,” Peoples said. “We think it is just one contributing factor to the decline, but it could be significant in certain situations.”
No conclusions have been reached so far about why quail are disappearing from the prairie. The most common theory is because the prairies are disappearing as well.
ODWC is just two years into what will be a long-term study of the issues.
“We are in it for the long haul,” he said of the quail research. “Quail are near and dear to the hearts of many Oklahomans.
“Our mission is to regain some of that nostalgic value. Everybody grew up quail hunting in Oklahoma. Now, there are very few of us left.
“I am still feeding bird dogs. They don't care if there is very little quail out there. They want to go (quail hunting), and I want to go, too.”
If you're going
What: Quail Season
When: Nov. 9 through Feb. 15, statewide