Talented taxidermy on display April 2-3

The ART of TAXIDERMY done well makes long lasting replicas of animal life. Natural history museums across the globe have used taxidermist’s talents to create displays of wildlife for educational purposes. Individuals also use these services to make mounts of trophy animals hunted or fished. The 2016 Iowa Taxidermist Association will bring together the talents of some of the best for in-house competition. In addition, members of ITA will discuss tip and tricks to make life-like detail applications to make great mounts transition into the excellent category.

For any of the readers of past columns from Outdoors Today can attest, the public is not disappointed by what they see. The exhibits will feature waterfowl, furbearers, deer, a few critters from other continents, fishes of many species and game birds like pheasants and wild turkeys. A special theme for 2016 is a focus of foxes in the mammal category. The creative ideas of each taxidermist will be on display with the animal they chose to display. What becomes a difficult task for the public is how to narrow the field for people’s choice award to just one vote on one little piece of paper. No matter ones preference of an animal, the terrific talents of these artists will make it difficult to pick a winner.

Actually everyone is a winner, from youth category entries to master ratings, as each strives to make the appearance of the animal and its mini habitat setting have great eye appeal, beautiful settings, and of course top quality workmanship. And Marshalltown and vicinity is also a winner by being able to showcase the city and its hospitality.

Nature displays at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm have many species of wildlife in its collection. Taxidermists from local sources were used primarily to help create life-like scenes in the habitat dioramas of forest, prairie and wetland. Birds are everywhere from shelf tops to outstretched wings hanging from the ceiling. Bald eagles soar and pelicans ride the invisible airwaves as they look for fish. Mammal mounts depict everything from small gophers to deer and bison. People and school children who have visited the Conservation Center are not disappointed in the variety of Iowa wildlife on display. What they learn while observing is an on-going trademark of life long learning. In this one setting they have the opportunity to view Iowa’s wildlife diversity in one easy setting. Taking what they learn outdoors into the real world and helping to apply science based conservation management is another goal of the education process. Much of it was made possible by artful and talented taxidermists applying their skills to each and every species.

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Iowa native Dave Nomsen, a PHEASANTS FOREVER and Quail FOREVER staff member has been honored at the 81st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. Nomssen received the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to natural resources. Dave Nomsen grew up with wildlife interests close at hand since his father was the chief pheasant biologist for the Iowa Conservation Commission, the fore runner to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Having grown up near Clear Lake, Dave also pursued wildlife degrees with a Master’s in wildlife management from South Dakota State University. Dave has been a staff member with PF and QF since 1992 and is recognized for his skills including more than two decades of expert advice to legislators on Capitol Hill.

Another Iowan, this time Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist with the Iowa DNR, received the Pheasant Award at the same conference as noted above. Bogenschutz was recognized for his dedicated voice for wildlife habitat conservation both in Iowa and the Midwest. He also has worked diligently on the National Wild Pheasant Conservation Plan over the past decade. His work with partners of PF and QF have helped implement numerous state programs including the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement practices, a part of the continuous Conservation Reserve Program, that has helped reestablish Iowa’s ringneck pheasant population.

Congratulations to both gentlemen for outstanding service to wildlife science, the people of Iowa and the Midwest, and to the resources they care so fervently for. Their work helps illustrate this motto: There are no easy solutions to complex problems. These biologists know this to be so true. A tip of the hat to both is hereby also offered. Keep up the good work.

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Interest in the IOWA RIVER and its entire watershed will be the focus of a meeting coming up April 2 at the Conservation Center at the Grimes Farm. Registration costs $10. Program speakers will begin at 10 a.m. and be concluded by 2 p.m. A report on the ‘state of the Iowa River report’ will be presented with emphasis on methods that can work to improve the water in the river and the wildlife and human life that depend upon it. Archeology notes will be featured by John Wenck, water trails coordinator. Furbearers of Iowa will be featured also by Vince Evelsizer. Duane Ninneman will talk about clean up activities in river systems.

The Iowa River begins its water collection in both the East Fork and West Forks (branches of the river) in Hancock County near Crystal Lake. Three hundred and twenty-three miles later, the Iowa River joins the Mississippi River near the City of Oakville. It has gathered water from its entire 12,637 square mile watershed. From its source, the Iowa River passes through scenic valleys and towns like Iowa Falls, Eldora, Marshalltown, Tama, Marengo, the Amana Colonies, into Coralville Reservoir, Iowa City and Wapello. The Cedar River watershed parallels the Iowa and the two rivers meet in Louisa County. It is the Iowa River in name that joins the big water of the Mississippi.

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A FUN NIGHT in Tama County at Otter Creek Lake Park is set for the evening of April 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. This is a fund raising event to assist with additional work at the Nature Center. Great food, great auction prizes and a good cause combine to create the fun night. Tickets can be purchased for $15 adults, kids age 12 or younger are $6. Call 641-484-2231 to reserve a spot and buy the tickets. Food will be catered by “My Mother’s Place.” The evening program will feature a presentation by Dave Hoffman on Trumpeter Swans in Iowa.

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Here are some things to look forward to during April. First, longer days and shorter nights. Hopefully warmer weather will prevail. Second, morel mushrooms may begin to poke out of the forest leaf litter. Third, conservation officers will conduct night spotlight wildlife surveys along designated routes. Fourth, goose nests will bring forth the first goslings of the year. Fifth, a point of history actually, is the fact that on April 6, 1982 Iowa had its latest subzero temperature of -9 degrees at Manchester. No repeat of this item is desired. Sixth, wild turkeys will be incubating eggs at their nests. Seventh, Bald Eagle eggs will hatch mid month. Eighth, shorebirds make their return to Iowa wetlands. Ninth, wild turkey hunting seasons begin on the 18th. Tenth, catfish begin feeding heartily on dead fish as shallow waters continue to warm. Eleventh, woodland flowers emerge. Trees have leaves again. Snow is not welcome.

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“It is not who is right, but what is right that is of importance.”

– Thomas Huxley, scientist

Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.