Who is Responsible for Wildlife?
By law, Iowa wildlife belongs to everyone. This means that even when lands or waters are privately owned, the free ranging wildlife living on them is not.
Wildlife is held in trust for everyone in the state. Everyone has a vested interest in wildlife. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR) is the primary agency responsible for maintaining state parks and forests, protecting the environment, and managing energy, fish, wildlife, and land and water resources in the state. Iowa DNR works with federal agencies, other state agencies, county government, and private organizations and individuals to manage wildlife resources for all Iowans.
- Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards – Every Iowa county has a conservation board with local citizen representatives. They often manage areas for wildlife.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Wildlife – The DNR is responsible for managing Iowa’s wildlife for all of Iowa’s citizens. The DNR does this in cooperation with the USFWS, other states, local governments, organizations, and citizens.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) – The USFWS is the federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. USFWS major responsibilities also include migratory birds program, federally endangered or threatened species (in cooperation with states), certain marine mammals, and freshwater and anadromous fish. USFWS manages six national wildlife refuges (NWR) in Iowa totaling over 109,000 acres: Desoto NWR, Driftless Area NWR / Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Iowa Wetland Management District / Union Slough NWR, Neal Smith NWR, and Port Louisa NWR.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS): Laws and Regulations – Laws dealing with migratory birds are designated at the federal level. Find out more about them and the process of enacting a law at the federal level.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Hunting Regulations – State rules cannot be less restrictive than federal guidelines, but states can add limitations. Find out about all of Iowa’s state rules (hunting seasons, bag limits) here.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations – Iowa’s hunting regulations for migratory game birds.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Rules, Regulations, and Laws Affecting Wildlife Management – Overview of wildlife related laws and jurisdictions.
Who Pays for Wildlife Programs?
Hunters and anglers historically have financed the greatest share of fish and wildlife management programs through purchase of licenses, tags, stamps, and habitat fees as well as excise taxes paid on equipment. These fund most Iowa DNR wildlife programs. Sources of funding for wildlife agencies determine, to varying degrees, program priorities and objectives.
Licenses and Fees
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Hunting License and Laws – Hunters and trappers licenses and fees.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Fishing Licenses – Angler licenses and fees.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Scientific Collectors and Permits – People wishing to work with wild animals for research, educational, or rehabilitation
Wildlife Restoration Act
- Iowa Hunter Education: Pittman-Robertson Act – Information about how funds from this program are used in Iowa.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service: Duck Stamp – The duck stamp is required for all waterfowl hunters in addition to their hunting license.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Migratory Game Birds – Page 7 of this document gives information about Iowa’s Migratory Bird Game fee and the habitat stamp.
Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Act
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: REAP – REAP is an Iowa program that invests in the enhancement and protection of the state’s natural and cultural resources.
The Wildlife Diversity Program was formed in 1981. It was funded through the sale of Nongame Support Certificates (collectible photographs of Iowa’s’ nongame wildlife) and voluntary contributions made through the “Chickadee Checkoff” on state income tax forms. A need for stable, predictable funding developed and alternate funding sources were identified.
Private conservation organizations get most of their funding from membership fees, donations, grants, and sales of wildlife-featured items. These organizations are critical partners in wildlife conservation. Jump to the Iowa Resources page for a listing of state conservation organizations and agencies!
Importance of Wildlife
People have utilized wildlife throughout the ages. Prehistoric people, Native Americans, and Euro-American settlers depended on wildlife for food, clothing, and even shelter. Wildlife is often a part of many Native American religious ceremonies.
Biodiversity describes a variety of natural systems (ecosystem diversity), the number of different species in a given area (species diversity), or variety within individual living things (genetic diversity). Also, see the earlier sections on habitat restoration and reintroductions.
- Iowa Wildlife and People Series: Iowa Biodiversity – Iowa Association of Naturalists publication about the biodiversity of Iowa and how the strength of natural habitats depends on the diversity of plant and animal life within those habitats and how a loss of diversity can have major impacts on the environment.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Iowa Wildlife Action Plan – First approved in 2006, the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan (IWAP) is a 25-year strategy for conservation of all wildlife in Iowa. The IWAP is a proactive plan designed to conserve all wildlife in Iowa before they become rare and more costly to protect.
- National Wildlife Federation: What is Biodiversity? – Learn about biodiversity.
People have always been dependent on wildlife. They used wildlife for food, clothing, shelter, utensils, medicines, and religious objects throughout history. In the United States, wildlife now is more important for recreation. Food and fur are still important products of hunting and trapping, but many value being outdoors and/or hunting with friends as much as, or more than, gathering food.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: State Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Plan – This plan assesses the supply of, and demand for outdoor recreational opportunities in Iowa while identifying a list of priority areas for outdoor recreation.
- Iowa State University Extension: Economic Value of Outdoor Recreation Activities in Iowa
Aesthetic and Ethical Value
Other wildlife values are less tangible than maintaining stable ecosystems or providing recreation. If wildlife had no other value it would still be worth preserving for its sheer beauty and appeal to the human spirit.
- The Aldo Leopold Foundation: The Land Ethic – Leopold’s ‘Land Ethic’ defined a new relationship between people and nature and set the stage for the modern conservation movement.
What You Can Do To Help Wildlife
Think Habitat! Wildlife populations are limited by the availability of quality habitat. Anything that helps habitat, helps wildlife! Following are just a few ways individuals can get involved:
Learn About Wildlife and Make Some Connections
Educational seminars, programs, special events and workshops about wildlife are offered by numerous agencies.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Education Events Calendar – Find out about the educational seminars, programs, and workshops about wildlife offered by the Iowa DNR.
- Mycountyparks.com: Events Calendar – Find out about the educational seminars, programs, special events and workshops offered by counties throughout the state of Iowa.
Join a conservation organization. See the list of conservation groups listed above. These organizations provide opportunities to participate in wildlife conservation through local wildlife projects, volunteering, fund-raising events, or other activities.
Private Land Management
The Iowa DNR, CCB’s, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private consulting businesses can help landowners with programs that protect and/or enhance wildlife habitat.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Wildlife Landowner Assistance – Information about programs available to landowners that protect and/or enhance wildlife.
- Iowa NRCS: Programs – Information about programs available to landowners that protect and/or enhance wildlife.
You can become active politically to support wildlife.
Help Your Conservation Officer
Obey all wildlife laws.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Turn In Poachers (TIP) Program – Use the TIP number to report a wildlife violation in Iowa.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Conservation Law Enforcement – A listing of all of the Iowa DNR conservation officers in the state. Call a conservation officer if you find and injured or orphaned animal.
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources: Iowa Hunter Education Program – Iowa’s Hunter education program is used to help people better understand wildlife laws.
Landscape for Wildlife
Windbreaks, flower gardens, and food plots can provide cover, nesting sites, and food for wildlife.
- Iowa State University Extension: Forestry – Information about windbreaks and their benefits.
- Iowa State University Extension: Forestry – Information about tree farming in Iowa.
- National Wildlife Federation: Gardening for Wildlife – Creating and certifying wildlife habitat in your own backyard.
- National Wildlife Federation: Garden for Wildlife at School – Creating and certifying wildlife habitat at your school.
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: Native Plants – Resources for people interested in learning more about how to use native plants for small-scale landscaping or gardening.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service: Schoolyard Habitats – A planning guide (PDF) for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects.
- Iowa NRCS: Food Plots – Information about planting food plots for wildlife.
- Jobs in Wildlife – Information and resources about working with wildlife.
Activities listed below are from the Project WILD guide and relevant to Iowa. Activities with supplemental information are linked below. Use the supplemental information in conjunction with the Project WILD activity.
- Back from the Brink (9-12)
- Bird Song Survey (9-12)
- Can Do! (9-12)
- Changing Attitudes (5-8)
- Changing the Land (5-8)
- Checks and Balances (5-8)
- Ethi-Reasoning (5-8)
- Ethi-Thinking (K-4)
- First Impressions (K-4)
- From Bison to Bread: The American Prairie (9-12)
- Hazardous Links, Possible Solutions (5-8)
- History of Wildlife Management (5-8)
- Improving Wildlife Habitat in the Community (5-8)
- Know Your Legislation: What’s in it for Wildlife (9-12)
- Pay to Play (5-8)
- Planning for People and Wildlife (5-8)
- Prairie Memoirs (5-8)
- Pro and Con: Consumptive and Nonconsumptive Uses of Wildlife (5-8)
- Rare Bird Eggs for Sale (5-8)
- The Hunter (5-8)
- To Zone or Not to Zone (5-8)
- Too Close for Comfort (K-4)
- We’re in This Together (9-12)
- What Did Your Lunch Cost Wildlife? (5-8)
- Wild Bill’s Fate (9-12)
- Wild Words (5-8)
- Wildlife in National Symbols (5-8)
- Wild Work (5-8)