Quail Unlimited President Bill Bowles says that more than 30 plantations are hosting hunts at this week's celebrity hunts. (Jan. 17, 2013)
ALBANY, Ga. — Quail Unlimited has folded, according to an e-mail sent out late Friday afternoon from Executive Director Bill Bowles, abruptly ending the national organization's existence.
"Our great staff and our great Board of Directors have stood the test and they have given their very best effort. However, the entire Board of Directors and I have made the difficult decision to cease Quail Unlimited operations and go out of business effective immediately," Bowles said in an email sent out Friday afternoon.
Bowles did not returned phone calls from The Herald seeking comment. But in a statement Friday to WFXL-TV, he said that a new organization — Quail Albany, which he said is unaffiliated with Quail Unlimited — has been formed and will manage events such as the recently completed Celebrity Quail Hunt.
"There are a few large challenges that we are about to be faced with," Bowles said in his first email. "Could we possibly overcome them? We might be able to, but it would require money that we do not have and it would be a huge distraction from our basic purpose—- Quail & Youth. I'm left to reflect on how best to accomplish those goals in light of QU's end, which leads me to recommend Quail Forever as the future of quail conservation in America.".
Before news of QU's demise Friday, Bowles had been expected on Monday to unveil Quail Albany.
In filings on the Georgia Secretary of State's website, a domestic non-profit organization called the Quail Albany Foundation was founded with the state on Nov. 14, with Bowles listed as the registered agent.
In his statement to WFXL, Bowles wrote, "The news of Quail Unlimited ceasing operations is correct. The name 'Quail Unlimited' is gone. The people will remain, including myself, and we will continue the conservation efforts for quail and youth.
"The Annual Celebrity Conservation Hunt Event will remain in Albany. This event has been managed by Quail Albany. Quail Albany is completely and legally separate from Quail Unlimited. The local hunt committee of Quail Albany has worked tirelessly to protect this event for our community. This past event set a record attendance. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next Celebrity Conservation Hunt Event. We also look forward to sharing the complete story on Monday February 4, 2013. This will be good news."
Three months before Quail Albany was created, Bowles wrote a letter to the Dougherty County State Court as an answer to a lawsuit filed by printing giant Pitney Bowes against Quail Unlimited for more than $27,000 that the company said it was owed on a delinquent lease for equipment used at a QU office in South Carolina.
In that letter, Bowles describes his organization as being "in very bad financial condition," and talks about a "new" QU.
"I believe that the (board of directors) would authorize a payment schedule amount that could be afforded by the new QU in an effort to try to honor past obligations of the old QU, as long as the funds were truly owed and these facts could be established," Bowles wrote.
At this past week's quail hunts, the familiar "Quail Unlimited" moniker and logo were replaced with that of "Quail Albany."
In addition to the Pitney Bowes claim — which Bowles disputes in his letter to the court — Quail Unlimited was also issued a FIFA by Dougherty Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette in March 2012 for nearly $30,000 owed to a company called Mignone Communications Inc., again for debts owed in South Carolina.
According to court officials, Quail Unlimited has yet to pay that FIFA.