West Virginia wildlife officials have embarked on an effort to restore the northern bobwhite quail population.

Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that 12,000 bobwhite quail have been added at wildlife management areas across the state. The goal is to bring the numbers to 20,000, and the Division of Natural Resources will conduct more stockings through October. It’s part of a five-year restoration project.

Bobwhite quail, known for their “bobwhite” call, disappeared in the state in the late 1970s due to a combination of habitat destruction and harsh winters.

Some quail have been fitted with transmitters to monitor their survival and habitat use. Several locations also have cameras, the governor’s office said in a statement.

“I’ve missed these little rascals, and lots of people have,” Justice said. “It’s a bird that has been here forever, and it’s wildlife we need to protect and bring back.”

Bobwhite quail have been stocked at wildlife management areas at Burnsville Lake, Cross Creek, Frozen Camp, Huttonsville State Farm, Laurel Lake and Pleasant Creek, as well as the Greenbrier State Forest.