Most people encounter some sort of wildlife every day. Humans and nature are interconnected, and what people do with our shared resources greatly impacts wildlife. The following list contains important considerations to think about before interacting with nature, laws made to protect Iowa’s resources, and examples of things you can do to be a good steward of your local environment.
Iowa-Relevant Project WILD Activities
Activities with supplemental information are linked below.
|A Dire Diet
|Back from the Brink
|Bird Song Survey
|Changing the Land
|Checks and Balances
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
|Pay to Play
|To Zone or Not to Zone
|Wild Bill’s Fate
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
|Wildlife and the Environment: Community Survey
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
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 (DNR): 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.
- USFWS Office of Law Enforcement: 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 DNR: 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 in this PDF.
- Iowa DNR: Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations Quick Reference – Iowa’s hunting regulations for migratory game birds are included in the full Hunting Regulations (link above). Download this Migratory Game Bird Hunting Quick Reference Card, opens as PDF.
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 DNR: Hunting License and Laws – Hunters and trappers licenses and fees.
- Iowa DNR: Fishing Licenses – Angler licenses and fees.
- Iowa DNR: Scientific Collectors and Permits – People wishing to work with wild animals for research, education, or rehabilitation
Wildlife Restoration Act
- Pittman-Robertson Act (PDF) – Information about how funds from this program are used in Iowa.
- USFWS: Duck Stamp – The duck stamp is required for all waterfowl hunters in addition to their hunting license.
- Iowa DNR: Habitat Fee and Migratory Bird Fee – Search the current hunting regulations for “Licenses, Fees, and Stamps Required.” The Wildlife Habitat Fee is dedicated by Iowa Code for the permanent protection and development of wildlife habitat. Fifty percent of this revenue is available to county conservation boards through 75%/25% cost-share grants for habitat protection and development at the county level.
Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Act
- Iowa DNR: 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’s Nature Series – Vertebrates – From city sewers to pristine prairies, the reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals, fish, and lamprey found within Iowa’s borders are as diverse and fascinating as the people found there.
- Iowa’s Nature Series – Invertebrates – Features the stories of a few of the thousands of insects, spiders, crustaceans, butterflies, moths, worms, snails, mussels, and leeches found in Iowa, everywhere from our border rivers to our homes
- Iowa DNR: 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 DNR: 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.
- Economic Value of Outdoor Recreation Activities in Iowa – This PDF commissioned by The Nature Conservancy report documents continued increases in the utilization of Iowa’s outdoor recreational resources since a benchmark study in 2007.
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 DNR: Events Calendar – Find out about seminars, programs, and workshops 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 DNR: Wildlife Landowner Assistance – Information about programs available to landowners that protect and/or enhance wildlife.
- Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (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 DNR: Turn In Poachers (TIP) Program – Use the TIP number to report a wildlife violation in Iowa.
- Iowa DNR: Conservation Law Enforcement – Learn about the Law Enforcement Bureau and download a pdf map of all of the Iowa DNR conservation officers in the state.
- Iowa DNR: 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 – Publication about windbreaks and their benefits.
- Iowa State University Extension: Forestry – Information about tree farming in Iowa, opens as pdf.
- National Wildlife Federation: Garden 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.
- USFWS: Schoolyard Habitats – A planning guide (PDF) for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects.
- Iowa NRCS: Wildlife Conservation Practices for a Sustainable System – A listing of wildlife-friendly practices for your farm or acreage.
- Careers: The Wildlife Society – A listing of popular careers working with wildlife.