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Interest in wildlife has huge economic impact

March 3, 2012
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

DEER are big business in Iowa. Just ask the vendors at the recent Deer Classic. Just ask the hunters trying to be in the right place at the right time. And ask the pro shops who offer archery equipment, muzzle loaders, shotguns and related equipment. Don't forget the outdoor clothing suppliers who offer some of the best high tech fabrics to keep humans warm and dry in all kinds of weather. The focus on deer is just one component of a much larger fascination of people to natural resources.

Outdoor recreation in general is big business. Add up fishing, hunting, trapping, camping, hiking and other excursions to the forests, wetlands and prairies and the numbers get bigger. Then add boats, trailers, outboard engines, trolling motor equipment, rods, reels and lures. Well, the list goes on and on.

This translates in an economic impact in Iowa from 518,000 hunters and anglers spend $661 million on their interests. That is $1.8 million per day! This drives at least 12,000 jobs in Iowa. Sportsmen and women average almost one out of every four residents who spend 3.6 million days in the field hunting. They also spend 6 million days on the water. Translation: fishing and hunting do have a big impact economically locally, in the state and nationally. This scribe is proud to participate in this endeavor.

Article Photos

Today’s photo represents a small sample of the deer mounts brought in by their owners during last weekends Iowa Deer Classic Show held in Des Moines. It was another impressive show of great deer, great exhibitors and lots and lots of people coming to explore, ask questions and look over a tremendous variety of products related to wildlife resources in Iowa. Biologists noted that the overall deer herd is down by about 4.5 percent from 2010-11. Taxidermists indicated that their business is off by about 30 percent, a reflection of a declining population trend.

As Aldo Leopold stated, "Some can live without wild places and wildlife, I cannot." I hope this definition fits you also.


Public meetings will be held concurrently across Iowa on Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. The sponsor of the meetings is the DNR to discuss possible changes in hunting and trapping regulations for this fall. The Area Education Agency (AEA267), 909 S. 12th St., the local setting for the meeting.

Among the topics on deck will be issues on deer, waterfowl, bobcats and otters. Of course other issues can be brought forward to by the public. Proposed changes would stabilize deer numbers in some areas, potentially add a third zone for waterfowl and increase the harvest allotments for otters and bobcats.

"These meeting are part of the new process instituted by Governor Branstad last year for making rules in state government," said Dale Garner, chief of the wildlife bureau. "Any changes must be discussed with Iowa's citizens who might be impacted by the changes. The process helps insure that rule changes serve the public's wishes and do not unnecessarily impact Iowa's economy."

This scribe urges the public to attend next Tuesday. And it is important to help understand the science that goes into wildlife management, not emotional opinions, to help resolve issues of habitat and wildlife numbers management. The more informed we all can become with facts, the better we will be able to address common sense approaches to real life on the ground needs. And I'd offer this bit of thought from my many years of experience, namely that state wildlife and fisheries biologists offer very good advice to find the facts, offer solutions and recommendations. For sure, you will not find those answers from lawyers, judges or animal rights activists.


The wind was blowing like crazy on Wednesday. So goes the transition toward spring in the northern hemisphere of our earth. It will be winter like one day and spring like the next. Eventually spring will win but not without a fight. One sure sign of spring for me was a bold orange colored robin in my lawn on Wednesday. While the wind was trying to blow the bird into the next county, it was resolved to check out the grass for morsels of food to eat. Go robins!

Another related bird story would be fun to watch. A local bird feeder friend has set up hanging platform with a screen wire bottom. Bird seed is placed on the screen. However, the local wild turkey flock has learned a trick or two about how to get the seed out. They walk under the feeder, jump up and bump their heads on the screen causing seeds to splash overboard. Now it is easy to pick up the spoils from the ground. It is a mad rush to eat the seed for as many as 32 turkeys at a time. Thanks for sharing this turkey 'head-butting' story.


Wednesday, Feb. 29, was the extra day added to the calendar to make up for discrepancies in the timing of our earth orbit around the sun. Consider these facts: Most years have 365 days, one complete revolution of the earth around our sun. To be more accurate, the time is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 16 seconds. To compensate for the difference, every four years is a leap year to get the calendar more in synch with time. I'm sure that some people care about this. I'm sure the robin in my yard doesn't.


DUCKS UNLIMITED meets next weekend, Saturday, March 10, at the Regency Inn at Marshalltown. Ticket price at the door is $45. Come on out to support wetland conservation efforts and have a good time. While the DU committee had stated that 13 long guns would be given away during the event, another gun was just added so the total is now 14. You could be a lucky winner.

DU is a private nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wetland habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. They were incorporated in 1937.


For your funny bone: Red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.


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.



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