Turtle Graphic


Iowa’s wild turtle populations are at serious risk of reaching unsustainable levels.

Currently, there are no restrictions on harvesting these four species, and all are commercially harvested year-round. As surrounding states close or limit commercial turtle harvesting, this puts more pressure on the demand for Iowa’s native, wild turtles.

Iowa’s wild turtles should be protected during their mating and nesting season, from late winter through early summer.

Records show that nearly 33% of turtles are harvested commercially during the nesting season — a crucial period for reproduction and species survival. A protective season will allow populations to stabilize — and possibly reverse — their downward trend, and achieve long-term sustainability. This action benefits turtles, the complex ecosystem of which they are a part, as well as the citizens who want to see turtles in the wild, and even those who harvest turtles.

What you can do:

The Department of Natural Resources has recommended rules that would protect Iowa wild turtles, but the Governor has not approved the rules so that the Natural Resource Commission may act.  IRR has been working with key legislators to introduce legislation that would require the IDNR to protect the resource for the future.  There are legislator discussions going on now, ask your legislators to help protect Iowa’s turtles!

Contact Information for the Governor and Lawmakers:
Governor Terry Branstad:   515.281.5211 or http://www.governor.iowa.gov/contact/
Iowa Senators and Representatives:  Find your legislators
Iowa Senate:  515.281.3371
Iowa House:  515.281.3221

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