Bill setting limits on turtle harvests clears Iowa House
A bill limiting when Iowans could hunt and harvest turtles cleared the Iowa House of Representatives Tuesday.
House File 2357 directs the Iowa Department of Natural of Resources to set turtle trapping seasons and bag limits for both commercial and sport harvesting. It would apply to common snapping turtles, painted turtles and soft-shell turtles, though it creates an exemption for sport harvesters to get rid of « nuisance snappers » in ponds.
It also directs the department to perform a four-year population study of turtles in Iowa.
« Over the past 30 years, the commercial harvest of turtles has risen from roughly 30,000 pounds in 1987 to over 238,000 pounds in 2013, » said Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin. « This is the result of demand from the Far East where they have depleted their own turtle populations. »
Turtles can currently be harvested year-round in Iowa, including during their nesting season, Fisher said, while every other species has some kind of limit to protect their nesting season.
He noted that the reproduction rate for turtles is low in the wild because of natural predators, and setting limits on human hunting would help them to continue to flourish.
« These turtles are certainly not as majestic as a big white-tailed deer with a 16-point rack on it, » said Rep. Scott Ourth, D-Ackworth, who supported the bill. « They’re certainly not as gorgeous to some as the beautiful ring-necked pheasant. But I submit to you they play every bit the integral role in our ecosystem, our food chain and in the life of the natural world here in the state of Iowa. »