Human Impacts on Wildlife

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
(6-8, 9-12)
Carrying Capacity
(6-8, 9-12)
Changing the Land
Checks and Balances
Deer Dilemma
First Impressions
(K-2, 3-5)
Food Footprint
(6-8, 9-12)
Habitat Her0es
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
Natural Dilemmas
(6-8, 9-12)
Pay to Play
(6-8, 9-12)
To Zone or Not to Zone
(6-8, 9-12)
Wild Bill’s Fate
Wild Words
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)
Wildlife and the Environment: Community Survey
(6-8, 9-12)
Wildlife Symbols
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Supplemental Resources

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.


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

Wildlife Restoration Act


  • USFWS: Duck StampThe duck stamp is required for all waterfowl hunters in addition to their hunting license.
  • Iowa DNR: Habitat Fee and Migratory Bird FeeSearch 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: REAPREAP is an Iowa program that invests in the enhancement and protection of the state’s natural and cultural resources.

Nongame Funding

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.

Conservation Groups

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 – VertebratesFrom 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 PlanFirst 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.

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.

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.

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.

Political Advocacy

You can become active politically to support wildlife.

Help Your Conservation Officer

Obey all wildlife laws.

Landscape for Wildlife

Windbreaks, flower gardens, and food plots can provide cover, nesting sites, and food for wildlife.


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