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Hanslow Sparrow, endangered
Iowa's Threatened and Endangered Species

Iowa has changed greatly since becoming a state in 1846. The prairies that helped develop the highly productive soils have been reduced by more than 99 percent. About 95 percent of the state's prairie pothole wetlands have been drained. Over half of the original forest has been lost. These changes and other factors such as channelization of streams and rivers, soil erosion, development and urban expansion, and intensive row crop agriculture have contributed to the loss or degradation of suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species.

Individual species of plants and animals may contribute to the survival of other species within a community. The loss of what appears to be an unimportant species may result in the decline or loss of species that we consider to be very important. If we ignore species that are in danger of being extirpated from Iowa, we may be making decisions that cannot be reversed in the future. Conserving these species for future generations requires the coordinated effort by public agencies, private organizations, and property owners.
 
Iowa's endangered and threatened species law was enacted in 1975. The current law, entitled Endangered Plants and Wildlife is Chapter 481B of the Code of Iowa. The Natural Resource Commission and the Director of the Department of Natural Resources are responsible for administration of Chapter 481B.

Current list of endangered, threatened, and special concern species:
571 IAC chapter 77.2: List of Animals
571 IAC chapter 77.3: List of Plants

Federal Endangered Species Program (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) 

Living On The Edge: Profiles of Federally Listed Species in Iowa

Natural Areas Inventory

The Iowa Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) interactive website combines current technologies to bring threatened, endangered, special concern, and selected rare species data and maps to professional natural resource managers as well as to the public.

Information in the database is from a variety of sources, including surveys to locate rare plants and animals in their natural habitats, a collection of information from museums, herbariums, and scientific literature, and observations from naturalists around the state. Over 19,000 records are contained in the database, ranging from historical observations made in the 1800s to present day sightings. Records in the complete INAI Database are protected as "ecologically sensitive sites" within the Open Records Law (Iowa Code 22.7(21)) and are used by professional natural resource managers to identify opportunities for conservation, to improve natural resource management, and to conduct environmental reviews to avoid conflicts between development and listed species.

An educational version of the database is open to public viewing. Using the query page, you may create a map showing the distribution of individual species among counties across the state and you may also generate a list of species within individual counties. Brief profiles describing habitat preference, threats to survival, recommended management practices, and a photograph (if available) are provided as PDF documents for many of the species as well.
 

Natural Areas Inventory
Interactive Mapping (Query for INAI Data and Maps)

Need help? Check the public viewer help page.

Environmental Reviews

In response to a request for Environmental Review for Natural Resources, the Department will search records for state - and federal - listed endangered or threatened species, rare natural communities, sensitive habitat, and state lands and waters in a proposed project area. 

Current list of endangered, threatened, and special concern species:
571 IAC chapter 77.2: List of Animals
571 IAC chapter 77.3: List of Plants

According to Iowa Administrative Code 481A and 481B, a person shall not take, possess, kill, trap or ensnare, transport, import, export, process, sell or offer for sale, buy or offer to buy, nor shall a common or contract carrier transport or receive for shipment, any species plant or animal on the state list.
 

A complete request for review includes:

  • A narrative which describes the proposed project
  • Current land use details
  • Legal description (Section, Township, Range) of the project area
  • A map and/or aerial photo which includes the proposed project area.
    Note: The Hunting Atlas is a mapping application which may be used to generate maps of the project area.
  • Additional information such as preliminary plan sets may be helpful in the review process

The letter of review does not constitute a permit. Other permits may be required from the Department or other state or federal agencies in advance of work. To expedite review of projects with a large physical footprint, such as wind energy developments, the Department recommends that a GIS shapefile of the project boundary is included with the request for review. The shapefile must be projected in NAD 83, UTM Zone 15N.

The Department accepts requests for review via postal mail or SLER@dnr.iowa.gov. Questions about the Environmental Review process may be directed to the Program Coordinator at 515-725-8464. 

Environmental Review for Natural Resources 
Conservation and Recreation Division 
Iowa Department of Natural Resources 
502 E 9th St. 
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034 

For more information about state lands and waters:
Sovereign Lands Construction Permit program
 

By Definition

Endangered Species
Any species of fish, plant life, or wildlife which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant part of its range. Protected by law.

Threatened Species
Any species which is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Protected by law.

Special Concern
Any species about which problems of status or distribution are suspected, but not documented. Not protected by the Iowa Threatened and Endangered Species law, but many animal species listed as Special Concern are protected under other state and federal laws addressing hunting, fishing, collecting, and harvesting.




Chapter 481B of the Code of Iowa authorizes the Commission to:

  • Cooperate with the federal government in the conservation, protection, and artificial propagation of endangered and threatened species.
  • Designate a state list of endangered and threatened species by rule (Iowa Administrative Code [571] Chapter 77).

 
The Director of the Department of Natural Resources is authorized to:

  • Conduct investigations to collect information about listed species for their conservation and management.
  • Establish programs, including purchase of habitats, for the management of listed species.
  • Allow the capture, possession, sale, or purchase of listed species for scientific, education, or rehabilitation purposes, for propagation in captivity to ensure the survival of a species (Iowa Administrative Code [571] Chapter 111).
  • Permit taking upon showing good cause where necessary to reduce damage to property or to protect human health.


Penalties for Unlawful Taking of Threatened or Endangered Species

Violations of the provisions of Chapter 481B for threatened or endangered species are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $100. 

In addition to the misdemeanor penalty, a person convicted of unlawfully selling, taking, catching, killing, injuring, destroying, or having in possession any animal listed as threatened or endangered is required to reimburse the state $1,000 per listed animal. 

(Section 481A.130 of the Code of Iowa).