Conservation Law in Iowa
to the Code of Iowa, animals (whether wild or not) are property.
In other words, your dog belongs
in Chapter 481A.2 Wildlife Conservation, of the Code of
Iowa, as all fish, mussels, clams, and
frogs in any of the public waters of the state, and in all ponds,
sloughs, bayous, or other land and waters adjacent to any public
waters stocked with fish by overflow of public waters, and of
all wild game, animals, and birds, including their nests and eggs,
and all other wildlife, found in the state, whether game or nongame,
native or migratory, except deer in parks and in public and private
the State of Iowa.
In other words,
Iowa’s wildlife belongs
to the residents of Iowa.
to specifying ownership, this chapter of the Code
of Iowa also specifies that only licensed wildlife
rehabilitators may be in possession of injured or
orphan animals so defined. In other words, its
not legal for those of us who arent licensed wildlife rehabilitators
to deal with wildlife. This is how the State protects
wildlife from people who dont know what theyre doing.
arent pets and now that you know the law, ethically it is
your duty to behave responsibly. Trying to turn a wild animal
into a pet puts the animal in a situation where it gets stuck
between two worlds and is not competent in either one.
So You Want to Help...
things through before you act.
sure are you that the animal in question really does need
you are not a licensed wildlife rehabilitatorplease
touch with onepreferably
before you take action on behalf of a wild animal.
where, and why?
there an obvious injury? If so, the animal needs medical care
from a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
the animal exhibiting highly unusual behavior for her species?
If so, she could be diseased or in pain. Rememberall
mammals are susceptible to the rabies virus.
its a baby, do you really know enough about the species
to be sure mom isnt coming back? If not, be prepared to
simply observe for awhile.
this a life or death situation? If so, the animal
needs immediate intervention. Proceed with caution! Dont
approach an injured wild animal without calling a professional
E-mail us, call the Iowa City Animal Care & Adoption Center (356-5295),
or your own veterinarian to get a referral to a veterinarian who
is familiar with the species in need.
Wildlife Myths to Disbelieve
animals found by themselves have been abandoned by parents.
This is not a reliable rule. For example, it is not unusual for
female rabbits to leave their bunnies alone in the nest or when
a bit older, alone above ground during the day. The bunnies stay
put and wait for mom to return at dusk from foraging for food.
Deer show similar behavior.
cant put a baby bird back in its nest. If youre
lucky enough to locate and have access to the nest, and if the
baby bird doesnt seem injured, put him back. Its a
myth that parents will abandon the baby bird once they smell human
scent on them.
year, thousands of wild animals are injured or orphaned
as a result of human activities.
legs are broken by fishing line, their wings are fractured
after colliding with a car.
sustain head trauma from hitting windows.
are poisoned after eating insects and plants treated with
pesticides and herbicides.
spring and summer, newborns and infants are orphaned when
their parents suffer any of these injuries.
your pet cats and dogs from interacting physically with
wildlife. Dont allow them to run without supervision
and raise your cats as indoor pets. Many animals sustain
terrible wounds from dog and cat attacks.
birds to large expanses of glass in your home (patio
doors, picture windows, etc.). Reducing reflection should
cut down on the number of birds who collide, often fatally,
with glass. Methods to consider:
bird silhouettes on the glass surface.
the glass to be a little bit dirty.
children to respect and care for all creatures and their
habitats. Children need to learn that wild animals are
not playthings and should be allowed to go about their
lives unmolested. Children should also be told not to
destroy nests, burrows and other wildlife homes.
up litter and refuse that could harm wildlife, including
plastic six-pack connectors (dispose of only after cutting
each circle to reduce the risk of entanglement), monofilament
fishing line, and timepiece batteries (if consumed by
waterfowl, they can cause mercury poisoning).
alert when driving, especially in rural areas and near
wildlife refuges, to avoid hitting wild creatures. Animals
do not recognize the danger from an oncoming vehicle.
Stop and move any turtles away from the roadway or shoulder
of the road.
a general rule, leave infant wildlife you have found alone,
since they are not always truly orphaned. A parent may
be nearby or will return soon. Be sure they are in need
of help before you remove them from the nest area. If
you find young birds on the ground, attempt to return
them to the nest.
caps over all chimneys and vents on your roof to prevent
birds or raccoons from taking up residence and becoming
a nuisance or getting trapped.
not leave fishing line or fish hooks lying about outdoors.
Try to retrieve any kite string left on the ground or
entangled in trees.
through your garden and lawn before mowing or rototilling
to make sure no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in
harms way. Remember, it only takes a couple weeks for
these babies to grow and leave the nest. Be tolerant and
give them the time they need.
trees for active nests or residents of cavities before
cutting them down. Even better, avoid cutting down dead
trees if they pose no safety hazard, since they provide
homes for a wide variety of wildlife.
nontoxic products on your lawn and garden. Mourning doves
and pigeons are particularly sensitive to organo-phosphates.
leave motor oil standing in lid-less containers outside.
Animals can fall in. Few survive.
attempt to raise or keep wildlife yourself. Not only is
it illegal, but wild creatures do not make good pets, and
captivity poses a constant stress to them. Young wild animals
raised without contact with their own species fail to develop
survival skills and fear of humans, virtually eliminating
their chances of survival in the wild.
Iowa Raptor Project (IRP)—formerly known as the MacBride Raptor Project, is still devoted
to the preservation of Iowas raptors and their natural
habitats. Activities include the rehabilitation of sick
and injured raptors, educational programs for the public,
and field research of Iowas native birds of prey. Their list of wildlife rehabbers was updated 01/04/16.
The RARE Group (RARE)—caring volunteers who devote time, effort, and resources to help birds of prey overcome the dangers posed by nature and human activities. They collaborate with other local wildlife rehabilitators to increase the effectiveness of our program. They serve eastern Iowa and western Illinois, offering a place for injured raptors to come for treatment.
If you find a raptor in distress, here's a precis of what RARE says:
• Note location, date, time, species if known, and condition of the bird.
• Do not handle the bird.
• Do not give the bird food or water.
• Contact us at : 319-248-9770. Please leave a detailed message. Include your name, phone number, and information about the bird. Phone messages and emails are monitored several times a day.You can also send email. A photo of the bird could help us determine the best course of action.
• If you need immediate assistance, contact your county Conservation Officer or your local sheriff.
• For contact info for rehabbers throughout Iowa, see this document and this document.
County Conservation Board
Saving Our Avian Resources (Soar)
Department of the Wisconsin Humane Society
photo images on this page are copyrighted by the photographer,
Ron Wulff, Jr., who has graciously allowed them to be used by
nonprofit organizations for educational use.