Using a LEASHED dog to find dead or wounded deer is rapidly becoming more desirable to Iowa hunters and legislation is moving forward to make this practice a reality.  However, while moving through The House Natural Resources Committee, committee members tacked on an amendment to Bill HF657 that left many supporters of the bill frustrated.  This new amendment would require all Iowa blood tracking dogs and their handlers to be “certified” in blood tracking.

The actual certification process is uncertain and leaving many supporters of the bill wondering what the true intentions of the sudden and new amendment is.  Certifying dogs and handlers is costly, not only does it require hunters to pay a large monetary sum, but it takes a lot of time to accomplish. Certification could be done by a private group or by the state of Iowa.  Many states that require certification allow blood tracking dogs and their handlers to track WITHOUT a leash, which will NOT be allowed under the Bill HF657.

Currently, 37 states allow LEASHED blood tracking dogs to find wounded or dead deer because of the various benefits the practice provides towards conservation.  Here are a few of those benefits: 

The Benefits of Blood Tracking Dogs
  • Less game wasted. Many dog breeds were specifically bred by humans for tracking purposes.
  • Wounded deer are found quickly and efficiently.
  • Less grid walking of large groups on public and private lands. Grid walking disturbs hunters, flora, fauna, and archaeological sites.
  • The accuracy of the annual Iowa deer count would increase.
  • Lead poisoning of animals feeding on unfound deer carcasses would lessen, including avian wildlife like bald eagles.
  • Over 189,000 Iowa deer tags were bought by Iowa hunters during the 2016 season. With a large hunting community in Iowa and thousands of dogs left to live out their days in animal shelters, a lift in these regulations could give abandoned dogs new opportunities in life and a new home.
  • Hunters with physical limitations would benefit with a tracking companion.

To learn more about Blood Tracking Dogs in Iowa visit the Iowa Blood Trackers Facebook page.

To give your input on HF657, click here to find your legislator.

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Justin J. Lind

March 2019
White Buffalo Outdoors