Iowa DNR News
Test Results Show Iowa Fish
Below Level for Mercury Advisory
DES MOINES - Fish caught from
Iowa waters is an excellent source of protein and part of a
healthful diet. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, can
conclusively make this statement based on testing more than 485
fish samples over 30 years from Iowa streams and public lakes.
The Iowa DNR bases its fish
consumption advisory on the same U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) standard used by grocery stores and fish
markets. Using this standard, the Iowa DNR recommends that no
fish caught from Cedar Lake in Cedar Rapids be eaten due to high
levels of chlordane. The Iowa DNR also recommends that no
channel catfish caught from the Ottumwa Lagoon in Ottumwa be
eaten because of high levels of chlordane.
Lately, there has been a
national push to limit consumption of certain fish species
because of the presence of mercury. Mercury is a naturally
occurring element and is found in higher levels in states with a
history in the logging industry. Mercury is also associated with
emissions at coal burning energy plants. Mercury from the energy
plants can drift hundreds or thousands of miles before returning
to earth and entering a lake or river.
There are steps being taken by
the DNR and other businesses to reduce the amount of additional
mercury from entering the environment from energy production. An
example is the new MidAmerican Energy station at Council Bluffs.
This facility received the first ever air permit that controls
mercury emissions. The plant is scheduled to begin operating in
2007. Iowa is also the national leader in non-polluting wind
energy with more than 400 wind turbines producing 423 megawatts
of energy, which is enough electricity to power 130,000 homes.
So far, Iowa fish have tested
below the FDA consumption advisory levels for mercury. But
mercury levels in fish is an issue for certain groups, like
women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant,
women who are nursing and for children 12 years of age and
younger. So, the Iowa DNR and the Iowa Department of Public
Health advise that anyone who falls into one of those categories
should eat no more than one meal per week of fish that could be
a source of mercury. Those fish include smallmouth bass,
largemouth bass, walleye, sauger, northern pike and muskie. More
specifically, the larger fish among those listed would be the
most likely to have higher levels of mercury.
“Fish in general is a smart
choice of a healthful diet,” said Chuck Barton, state
toxicologist with the Iowa Department of Public Health. “With
the increase in the occurrence of obesity in our society, the
last thing we want to do is to drive our citizens away from the
health benefits of eating fish. By following these
recommendations, Iowans can continue to include fish as part of
a healthful diet.”
DNR Investigates Second Fish
Kill in Carroll County
LIDDERDALE -The DNR is
investigating a second fish kill in Elk Run Creek, a tributary
of the North Raccoon River in northern Carroll County. This is a
separate incident then one investigated a week ago by the DNR.
The latest fish kill was
discovered Tuesday by the Iowa DNR while investigating the
previous fish kill. Approximately four miles of stream have been
affected by a total fish kill, although obtaining an accurate
fish count is hampered by the extremely turbid water of the
creek along the affected area from the pollution. The water does
have a manure odor.
The portion of stream affected
is about a mile and a half above the confluence with the Raccoon
River. The water in the creek and the Raccoon River are still
clear below the affected part of Elk Run.
Rain is the in forecast and it
is hard to predict what impact weather might have, according to
Alison Manz, a DNR investigator.
“Rain would push the pollution
downstream, but it also may provide some dilution. We will have
to wait and see what the ultimate impact is from the weather,”
While the investigation is
still being conducted, the initial evidence suggests that the
fish kill may have been caused by manure entering the stream
from an open feedlot and that there may be several livestock
operations that could have contributed to the problem.
The DNR will continue to
investigate on Wednesday. The downstream water supply at Des
Moines was notified.
For more information, contact
Kevin Baskins at 515-249-2814.
Iowa Pheasant Opener Review
by Joe Wilkinson
Posted: November 9, 2004
Some hunters got birds. Some
hunters got blown over.
Many wind-whipped pheasant
hunters called it quits early on opening day, with sustained 30
mile an hour blasts common across all of Iowa. That had
pheasants sitting tight, or rocketing out of shotgun range when
they did flush. Sunday was a little more hospitable, with some
of the hunters back out in the field.
"The groups I checked might
have no birds, or maybe one on Saturday," relays Department of
Natural Resources conservation officer Erika Anderson, who
patrolled Johnson County in eastern Iowa over the weekend.
"Sunday, though, I don't know where the hunters went. I did see
some roosters; also a couple rabbits, even a partridge." A
similar outlook comes from neighboring Cedar and Muscatine
Counties. "I talked with 30 hunters and saw (only) four dead
birds," reports officer Shawn Meier.
Those assessments seem fairly
typical from officers and biologists working the opener. With an
ocean of standing corn still out there and with a subdued
pheasant outlook this year, hunters weren't expecting a 'hunt
for the ages.' In areas with decent habitat, though, those who
persevered got some birds.
"Success was mixed," agrees Rod
Slings, who checked hunters in Jasper and Polk counties in
central Iowa. "I talked with a group of eight hunters with 12
birds by about 11 in the morning. The wind made it difficult.
Some roosters got up ahead of the group and sailed away. Others
sat tight with dogs working right past them; then got up behind
everybody." Slings points to all the corn standing (Only 62
percent was reported harvested by Monday of last week) and
foresees better hunting in the weeks ahead, as that early season
crop cover is transformed to stubble.
In Iowa and Keokuk counties,
law enforcement supervisor Craig Jackson went against the grain
somewhat, saying hunters there did surprisingly well, even with
the wind. "There were fewer hunters on Sunday, but they were
still getting some birds," offers Jackson.
Slings, who heads the DNR's
recreation safety programs, was cautiously optimistic about
another weekend fact. "There were no accidents reported. That's
a first since I've been around." While the wind and standing
corn might have reduced some activity, he assigns some of the
credit to Iowa's new 'blaze orange' requirement. Upland bird
hunters must now wear at least one item of external clothing
which is at least 50 percent blaze orange, to improve their
visibility. Comments over opening weekend were all positive,
from hunters in the field. "Compliance was very good," stresses
Slings. "I had one guy (whose hat was questionable). The rest of
his party had a vest on him in no time."
He says the first two weeks of
the pheasant season are when most hunting incidents are
investigated. "We understand the number of hunters was down
slightly, but not having any accidents during the opening
weekend is great news," says Slings. Last year, the DNR
investigated 15 pheasant hunting injuries. Two years ago, with
the bird forecast similar to this season, there were five.
"I saw no violations of the new
regulation," notes DNR wildlife biologist Tim Thompson, checking
hunters around the Hawkeye Wildlife Area near the Johnson/Iowa
County line. "I did see a lot of young roosters; maybe
three-fourths of them. That's a pretty normal ratio of adults to
young birds taken." He, too, heard hunters say they were
practically stepping on hunkered-down birds before they would
take off in the heavy winds. "Hunters had some birds. No (three
rooster) limits, but they had some," says Thompson.
New Regulation Clarified:
Upland game bird hunters need
to be decked out in some blaze orange this season. Those
pursuing cottontail and jackrabbits need not.
New legislation requires upland
bird (pheasant, quail, partridge, ruffed grouse and woodcock)
hunters to wear at least one article of external clothing (cap,
vest, jacket, etc) that is at least 50 percent blaze orange. An
earlier news release referred to upland game, including
cottontail and jackrabbits. While many rabbit-only hunters do
wear orange--and while it is a great safety tool for the
hunt--it is not required.
Deer Rut Peaks, Motorists On
It's getting dark earlier, the
crops are coming out....and Iowa whitetails are in the peak of
their annual breeding period. Those three factors add up to more
deer on the move. Drivers are warned to keep their eyes on the
road...and on the road shoulders.
During the first two weeks of
November, bucks pursue does, even those not quite ready to
breed. That day-and-night pursuit pushes deer into the open,
often heading across roadways they might otherwise avoid.
Antlered bucks, rarely seen through most of the year, are more
frequently seen dead on the roadside, having wandered into a
Motorists are advised to reduce
their speeds in areas of known deer traffic; especially in the
hours around sunset and sunrise; peak deer-movement periods.
Another advisory is for drivers to avoid leaving the road or
going into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid striking a deer.
The potential for damage or injury is greater if that occurs.
Trout Headed for
Banner Lakes Wednesday
DES MOINES - The Iowa
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will stock an estimated
1,400 catchable sized trout at Banner Lakes at Summerset State
Park, north of Indianola, around 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17.
The newly created trout fishery
has been received well by central Iowa anglers, said Marion
Conover, chief of the Iowa DNR's fisheries bureau. "It is nice
to feel a buzz among the local anglers, especially when someone
hooks on to one of the trophy-sized trout we released," Conover
said. "This is a really unique opportunity and the people have
Anglers who want to fish for
the trout are required to purchase the trout privilege for $11
in addition to an Iowa fishing license. The daily bag limit for
trout is five and the possession limit is 10.
The trout are from the Big
Springs hatchery near Elkader. This is the second of three fall
and winter trout stockings at the 59-acre lake. The DNR will
stock the lake again in January.
Banner Lakes at Summerset State
Park is the only central Iowa trout fishery.
Introduces Deer Hunting to Iowa Teens
GUTHRIE CENTER - The Iowa
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting 20, 12 to 15
year old novice hunters for a deer hunt at Springbrook State
Park, Nov. 19 to 21. This is the first time for this type of
event in Iowa.
"The weekend will be as hands
on as possible for these new hunters so they can get the total
experience," said A.Jay Winter, who is coordinating the event
for the Iowa DNR. "We found a need for this type of experience
because the number of Iowa hunters is decreasing and the deer
herd has increased."
Each of the youth hunters will
have a mentor for the entire weekend. The mentor can be a
parent, relative or friend or, if a mentor was not available,
Winter provided one.
The weekend begins with a
program Friday evening that covers whitetail deer biology and
continues through deer management, hunting equipment, methods,
scouting and laws, a safety trail, how to sight in a firearm,
field dressing, photography and processing.
"The education session will
wrap up Saturday morning and the hunt will follow to allow these
young hunters a chance to apply the skills they just learned,"
Winter said. Hunters will be assigned to specific units in the
park and allowed to harvest one deer. They will be paired with
their mentors at all times.
"This weekend is going to be as
much for the mentors as it is for the students," Winter said.
"With this program we can give young hunters a positive first
experience that they can carry the rest of their lives and allow
the mentors to share the experience with the youth. Everyone
For more information contact
Winter at (641) 747-8383 ext.11 or
Big, Bold, and
Beautiful - Iowa's Monster Whitetails are
Legends of the Fall
by Lowell Washburn
CLEAR LAKE -- It is by no
mistake that November is called the Hunter's Moon. Monster
white-tailed bucks are on the prowl. And for the state's 30,000
archery deer hunters, November simply offers the best of the
In most Iowa counties the fall
breeding season, or rut, usually reaches its peak about
mid-month. By then most bucks, including the real bruisers, have
forsaken their totally nocturnal lifestyles. Those magnificent
trophy stags that have somehow managed to remain virtually
invisible during the other 11 months of the year will appear,
suddenly and boldly, in broad daylight. Locked into a perpetual
search mode, they relentlessly cruise ridge tops, river bottoms
and brushy draws in hope of finding a doe.
Sometimes, these wandering
bucks find rival males instead. When that happens, the Iowa
timbers resound with the deadly clash of dueling antlers. Most
fights are brief and non-lethal. The exceptions usually occur
when two real monsters accidentally cross trails. For
white-tailed deer, the rut is extremely serious business, and
mature bucks are literally out to kill the competition. In most
cases, the loser is driven away -- bloody and bruised, perhaps,
but able to fight another day. In some cases, however, the
battles take on a more sinister tone. If the antlers of the
animals are evenly matched and become hopelessly locked, both
contestants may face a bleak future.
As the rut reaches its
crescendo, bow hunting is no longer an hour after daybreak or
hour before sunset proposition. Bucks, and plenty of them, are
on the move 24/7. During the Hunter's Moon there is no such
thing as a bad time for hunters to sit in a tree. Seasoned
archers will tell you that noon can be as productive as sunrise.
But even now, the big bucks
don't come easy. Tagging one still requires ample amounts of
scouting, woodsmanship, and above all -- patience. Tagging a
monster generally means passing up numerous six and eight
pointers. That's tough. For many hunters the temptation of
seeing those lesser bucks is just too great.
When the Big Buck finally does
arrive, many hunters simply crack under the strain. After the
drilling the Bull's Eye on plastic deer targets all summer, a
hunter may easily miss the entire animal once the moment of
truth arrives. It's called Buck Fever, and it is the only
explanation as to why so many new broadheads end up in the
ground or imbedded in tree trunks instead of in deer.
Songbird lovers can supercharge
their songbird-feeding program by planting beautiful trees and
shrubs to provide food and year around shelter for their
"Urban and rural yards can
provide important habitat for many species of songbirds, and
greatly strengthen your bird feeding program," said Stan Tate,
forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, in
"Now is the time to order
songbird packets to plant in your yard next spring. It will make
the birds happy and your yard more beautiful," said Tate. For
only $20 and a few hours work, "you can plant trees and shrubs
that will help feed and shelter your songbirds for your entire
lifetime. Plant only once, but enjoy for many years."
The songbird packet is grown by
the DNR forestry bureau and contains 16 favorite shrubs and 4
trees proven to attract songbirds year around. These are all
grown from seed collected in Iowa.
The packet contains two bur oak
trees, two white pine trees, four wild plum bushes, four
chokecherry bushes, four gray dogwood bushes, and four
serviceberry bushes. This planting can be easily fit into a
small lot or backyard in town and will help beautify the
"Songbird packets make great
gifts for the holidays," Tate said. The State Forest Nursery
provides gift certificates for those receiving the gift this
spring. The packet will arrive between mid-March and the end of
May along with planting instructions.
To order, call 1-800-865-2477
and ask for the Songbird Packet. Checks, VISA or Master Card are
accepted. Shipping is free. For more information, log on to