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Pilot Program Designed To Protect State's Native Wildlife

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NORTHHAMPTON COUNTY, N.C. — A pilot program of the

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

may bring a familiar call back to the night. Landowners are helping out to keep the Bobwhite quail from going quiet.

"It's primarily due to habitat loss, and we're trying to find ways to bring landowners together to help recreate some of the habitat and hopefully, positively impact these species," Brad Gunn of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said.

A pilot program, Cooperative Upland-habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE), is working on a large scale -- 5,000 acres. The farmers and landowners lease the borders of their fields and non-productive land. The state helps burn or till the land and native grasses take over.

"It's basically the type of grasses that the wildlife we have here in North Carolina have evolved with, and coexisted with and learned to depend on," Gunn said. "We hope this is a cure."

"We are hoping there is a middle ground that can be as economically viable as the farm might have been before, but still maintain good wildlife practices at the same time," said Charles Grantham Jr., a landowner participating in the program.

Grantham said he believes in the project.

"I think the combination of the farming practices, the landowners being willing to commit to the project and the Wildlife Resources Commission being willing to devote their time and effort is a recipe for success," he said.

"The future of wildlife in North Carolina is going to depend on what the private landowner does," Gunn said.

The Wildlife Resources Commission is not accepting new land into the program yet, but interested land owners can receive technical advice about habitat improvement free of charge.


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