DNR Presents Tama County Hunting Season Recap | News, Sports, Jobs

PHOTO BY DARVIN GRAHAM Iowa DNR Wildlife Management Biologist Steve Woodruff addresses a crowd of about 20 at the last of 17 town hall meetings held by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources over the past month. The meetings featured data on the 2021 hunting seasons, wildlife trends tracked by MNR as well as updates on proposed rule changes for the 2022 hunting seasons.

TOLEDO – After a year of increased interest in outdoor activities like hunting and fishing due to conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, hunting statistics across multiple categories and seasons show a slight decline in participation .

During the month of February, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) toured the state, hosting 17 town hall-style meetings where it presented summary information about the 2021 hunting season and answered questions and comments from the public as it prepares for the 2022 seasons.

The last meeting of the tour took place on February 24 at Otter Creek Park, north of Toledo. Approximately 20 members of the public attended the meeting which was moderated by DNR Wildlife Management Biologist Steve Woodruff and a video presentation was given with reports from various Iowa DNR research biologists. who specialize in different wildlife areas.

Land and habitat concerns

Several speakers at the meeting noted a decrease in available hunting land in recent years. One of the concerns was the aggressiveness with which farmland is being plowed, with one participant reporting seeing maize and beans being plowed to stream lines in some fields in the area.

One suggestion that was made was to include the DNR in the process followed by the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop and implement its Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) which pays landowners land owners a rental income in exchange for removing environmentally sensitive acres from production.

A participant expressed concern that although grasses can be planted on CRP lands, when snow arrives in winter, these areas do not have enough winter cover to contain wildlife such as pheasants that hunters are looking for.

On the other side of the land equation, there was a concern about landowners who own large tracts of woodland that could hold multiple deer restricting their land for public hunting.

Woodruff said it’s a phenomenon that’s been noticed statewide recently, where the potential motivation behind sequestering such a large area of ​​habitat could be to let bigger males grow for trophy antlers. .

Although Woodruff indicated that the DNR had little to do to intervene in these scenarios, the concern raised at the meeting was what to do if the disease were to enter these pockets of deer, potentially wiping them out.

A recurring theme in hunting reports, though more dramatic in some than others, was the steady decline of wildlife habitats in Iowa.


According to Iowa DNR upland game biologist Todd Bogenschutz, habitat loss is the biggest concern for upland game populations, including pheasants, which are among the most popular in the category. Since 1990, statewide pheasant harvest data has followed a similar trajectory as the number of acres of available habitat in Iowa during the same period.

From 1990 to 2020, acres of pheasant habitat in Iowa declined from over 4.5 million acres to less than three million acres.

Acres of habitat lost in Iowa from 2005 to 2020 would equal a patch of land 3.5 miles wide and stretch from Omaha to Davenport.

As expected, the pheasant population has declined along with the removal of their habitat. In 1990, hunters reported over 1.2 million pheasants harvested in a single season. Thirty years later, the total has dropped to around 300,000.

The DNR also used predator data collected by more than 2,000 bowhunters statewide over the past 10 years. Compared to pheasant data, there does not appear to be a consistent relationship between the rise and fall of pheasants in Iowa with predators such as coyotes, foxes, and bobcats.

Although long-term trends remain downward, pheasant population numbers for 2021 have remained stable compared to recent years.

Pheasant numbers in the west-central and north-central regions were the highest they had seen in a decade, while populations in the southeast fell by 60%. On average across the state, the numbers are relatively the same as the previous year. Hunters in the northern half of the state likely felt the year was a strong year for pheasants, while hunters in the south likely felt the opposite.

The pheasant harvest, expected to be around 295,000, was high compared to the ten-year average of around 228,000.

Bogenschutz also pointed to DNR’s Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP) which operates with USDA funding to provide funding and educational opportunities for landowners to enable public access to their land for hunting.

IHAP lands, which now total approximately 40,000 acres statewide, are open for hunting from September 1 through May 31 each year, and a map of available opportunities can be found on the Iowa DNR website.


Iowa DNR waterfowl biologist Orrin Jones provided a report on the hunting season for birds like geese and ducks.

Jones noted that there was a severe drought last year that affected many breeding grounds for hunted migratory waterfowl in Iowa. Waterfowl hunters have reported that their season has been relatively difficult this year, despite some locations having above-average population numbers.

The duck and geese hunting seasons are expected to stay roughly the same, but a few changes have been proposed to the regulations for next year. They include a daily bag limit of three birds for Canada geese beginning in the second segment of the regular season, the expansion of the Des Moines Metropolitan Goose Hunting Area, and adjustments to closed-to-hunting areas. to the Canada goose.

In addition, there will be a new Harvest Information Program registration process, which is a requirement for all hunters of migratory game birds. Step-by-step instructions for registration are available on the Iowa DNR website at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting/migratory-game-birds.

furry animals

Vince Evelsizer, Iowa DNR furbearer biologist, provided a report on furbearers such as raccoons, muskrats, beavers, coyotes, and badgers, commonly sought after for trapping. The report said the market for buying animal furs remained weak, which kept trapping pressure low across the state.

Although populations have remained relatively stable for most fur-bearing wildlife, with the exception of muskrat and gray fox, harvest numbers have declined steadily over the past decade.

The muskrat harvest illustrates the most dramatic decline, falling from over 33,000 harvested in 2015-16 to around 16,000 harvested in 2020-21.


The deer harvest for 2021 was 102,810, down about 6% from the previous year. MNR officials said this was likely due to mild weather during deer season.

License sales were down just 1% this year, which is encouraging given the 6% increase in license sales the state experienced last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.

The deer population has held steady for another year, and harvest data indicates the state is on track with its goal of harvesting between 100,000 and 120,000 per year.

The population, although relatively stable in recent years, is still down about 9% from 2008.

The proposed changes to the deer season relate to the antlerless deer season. A wood-free January season is restored in Allamakee, Appanoose, Decatur, Monroe, Wayne and Winneshiek counties.

Woodless-only license quotas are also being reduced in nine western Iowa counties to allow populations time to recover, while similar quotas are being increased in eight central and south-central counties. ‘Iowa where populations exceed target.

For more information about the upcoming hunting season, visit the Iowa DNR website at https://www.iowadnr.gov/Hunting.

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