Both commercial and recreational turtle trappers will soon have new regulations to follow in Iowa.  House File 2357 (2016) gives the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (I.D.N.R.) permission to implement new regulations on the trappers.  Regulations include strict daily catch limits and closing the year round season from May 14th to July 16th.

The new regulations on turtle trappers were fueled by the following organizations:

  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Center for Food Safety
  • Center for North American Herpetology
  • Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation Management
  • Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club
  • Tallgrass Prairie Audubon Society

These 6 organizations sent in a petition to the I.D.N.R. to immediately ban all turtle trapping in Iowa.  The petition was denied, but forced the I.D.N.R. to create a committee that eventually set the new regulations.

Are Turtle Trappers in Iowa the people to blame?

According the Joint Committee on Turtle Harvest (2013), other threats to Iowa turtles include:

  • Row crop production
  • Rural and urban development
  • Channelization of rivers and streams
  • Erosion of banks on rivers
  • Construction of highways and roads
  • Mammalian predation
  • Collection of turtles for pets
  • The destruction of wetlands
  • Car vs. turtle collisions
  • Surrounding states not allowing turtle trapping (p.9).
The Negative Impacts to the Trappers

According to the Natural Resources Commission and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (2016), between 2012-2015 the commercial turtle industry in Iowa consisted of an average of 145 harvesters out of the 3.1 million people who live in Iowa. The commission and I.D.N.R. found income derived by most commercial harvesters is used to supplement other income sources including farming, social security and fur harvesting.  With the new regulations, many of these trappers feel they cannot make ends meet. The new regulations would not only directly impact the trappers but also the economy and others in the state (p.7).

Administrative Rules Turtles

The Iowa Trappers Association also conducted their own study and found that 10 Iowa small businesses would close and 15 Iowans would be put out of work.

What’s Next for Turtle Trappers in Iowa

Under House File 2357 it is required the I.D.N.R. put together a commission that will conduct a 5-year study on the sustainability of Iowa’s turtle populations.  The commission is to report their findings to the General Assembly by January 1, 2021 to see if the restrictions on commercial and recreational turtle trappers should be revised.

Your Opinion Matters

Please let White Buffalo Outdoors know what  you think about the new regulations being put on turtle trappers in Iowa in the comments section below.

If you live in Iowa, let your voice be heard and contact your local legislator at

Justin J. Lind

September 2017
White Buffalo Outdoors


Gritters, S., Osterkamp, K., Weiss, D., Dolan, C., Mason, M., Kinkead, K., & Steuck, M. (n.d.). Iowa’s Commercial Turtle Harvest (United States, Iowa Department of Natural Resources)

United States, Iowa Department of Natural Resources. (n.d.). Administrative Rules GOVERNOR’S OFFICE PRECLEARANCE FORM (pp. 1-13).

Picture Provided By: Bernell MacDonald