Natural resources = improved quality of life

TR PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG Just one Iowa State Fair display, this one being the Turn In Poachers exhibit trailer outside the DNR building, is being inspected by members of the public while game warden Grant Geely looks on. With more than 100,000 people at the state fair each day, a good proportion will have opportunities to learn about on-going conservation efforts in the field. In addition, TIP of Iowa, Inc. may award cash incentives to informants who provide key data that fish and game law enforcement officers use in their efforts to investigate wildlife crimes.

STATE FAIR exhibits always live up to the hype and glamor of this annual 10-day event. There is something for everyone and way more than anyone can see in just one day. So what did this scribe do, circulate to get an overall perspective of all aspects of livestock exhibits, then onto what is old and new in machinery and finally to spend quality time in and near Department of Natural Resources exhibits. Funny how that happens, even after many decades working in the conservation career field, I’m still drawn to natural resources and all of its interesting variety.

Today’s image of the TIP of Iowa, Inc., education trailer illustrates a tiny but important aspect of long term law enforcement efforts, namely to gather information that helps lead to conviction of criminals for their illegal acts against fish and wildlife resources. Following the law is easy for most people precisely because it the right thing to do. Consequences for doing otherwise are expensive, may involve long term license suspensions or revocations and/or even jail time for the worst cases.

The TIP trailer had several displays for easy reading by the public. Some told stories involving poaching of deer. Others showed illegal fur taking schemes that were busted. And another example showed attempts by criminals to steal walnut logs. Crimes against natural resources are many. However, for those who attempt to conduct illegal activities, law abiding Iowa outdoors men and women have eyes and ears, trail cameras and have a pretty good idea of what constitutes suspicious activities regarding trapping, fishing or hunting. They know who their local game warden is and call him or her with information. An additional good thing about the Iowa TIP hotline, 800-532-2020, is that the caller may remain anonymous regarding informational tips concerning illegal activities against fish and wildlife resources.

Iowa’s State Parks, wildlife areas and its complimentary array of local county conservation board parks, prairies, forests, river access sites and education nature centers gives the public a tremendous variety of natural areas to pursue leisure time. Wild places and natural settings are quiet places for renewal or just to be present in the great outdoors, to enjoy with family and friends. It is hard if not impossible to put a monetary value on what any one person perceives to be what is important to them. Maybe that is the way it should be. But know this, if we did not have any of these natural areas, all citizens of Iowa would be much poorer. Our quality of life would be greatly diminished.

This summer and well into the fall season, make your own dedicated effort to get outside. Enjoy a trail, a local park, visit a prairie or wildlife area, Breathe in fresh air and listen to the sounds of nature conducting her business of on-going life cycles. By doing so, you will prove, if just to yourself, the value natural resources have to improving your quality of life.

DEER LICENSES went of sale last Thursday for the 2019-20 hunting seasons. Archery, gun or muzzle loader options are there for the sportsman to purchase. There are more than 700 license sales agents across Iowa. Residents may buy one any deer license for a gun season, one any deer license for archery season and one county specific antlerless deer only license. A slight change for 24 counties will be in effect. Twenty county quotas increased and four county quotas decreased. After Sept. 15, depending upon the county or counties you wish to deer hunt, antlerless only deer tags may be purchased in any number until the quota for that county is reached.

Deer population management requires an on-going off take of deer from the land. Hunters participate and do it well. The concerted efforts by all hunters who willingly purchase licenses is key to control efforts of keeping deer numbers at both the carrying capacity of the land and within the tolerance levels of humans. During the upcoming 2019-20 deer seasons, more than 100,000 deer will be harvested.

URBAN ARCHERY DEER HUNTS will be conducted again with the city limits of many Iowa communities. Marshalltown is now in its 10th year of participation. That is good. About 12 to 15 certified and permitted archers will hunt deer this fall inside the city. Other cities like Waterloo for instance have been conducting successful urban deer hunts for more than 30 years. Now, finally, Iowa City may see the light and has agreed to a four-year program. Previous to this year, this city where political correctness and unscientific emotionalism seemed to prosper, they resisted public hunt options in favor of very expensive private company services. In some areas deer density is at 80 animals per square mile. To get that number to just 25 per square mile will be a huge effort.

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE in deer across the Unites States is a huge concern. This disease takes a long time to manifest itself as deer carrying it may do so for three years before showing outward signs of illness. There is no cure for CWD. Population density control to thin infected areas is just one step to help contain the disease within wild free ranging animals.

I attended the informational program at the Grimes Farm and Conservation Center last Tuesday where Terry Haindfield, Iowa DNR coordinator, gave a fact-filled presentation of the history of CWD in surrounding states and its likely reasons for its discovery in Iowa’s northeast counties. The reasons for concern revolve around too many unknowns of this disease and since there is no ‘magic quick test’ to determine if a deer may be infected, hunters must remain vigilant to the possibility. Submitting lymph node samples is accomplished in every county in Iowa with special emphasis in counties where known CWD cases have appeared in the past. Support and cooperation from the public is essential to detect animals that appear to be in ill health.

There are many reasons any species of wildlife can become ill. And the length of ailments any animal may come down with is long. All we can do is observe animal behavior and body condition. If the animal is acting unusual or appears to be sick, have thin or poor body condition, it should be reported. The local game warden is a first step. Call Tyson Brown at 641-751-5246. He in turn may direct your call to other CWD coordinator staff or wildlife biologist for the local area.

Quote: “You can forget facts but you cannot forget understanding.” — Eric Mazur, physicist and educator

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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.