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Iowa's natural resources plates include the state bird and flower, pheasant, eagle, buck and a Brook trout. Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
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To many Iowans, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about our fish and wildlife resources might be deer, pheasants, walleye, ducks, catfish, turkeys, muskrats, crappies and other traditional game or sport fish species.However, The vast majority of wildlife species in Iowa are not hunted trapped or fished for but instead are sometimes called "nongame" wildlife. This includes shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, many small mammals and bats, most amphibians, reptiles, many small fish, butterflies, dragonflies and more - a very wide diversity of wildlife, indeed.
Beginning in 1981 with a staff of two assigned to the Wildlife Bureau's research section, the Wildlife Diversity Program (first called the Living Resources Program) was created to serve the needs of this largely unrecognized wealth of wildlife. Early WDP efforts concentrated primarily upon restoring a few rare creatures, such as peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans, barn owls and river otters to Iowa's landscape, while also conducting various surveys for birds, frogs and toads, and other nongame species, along with public outreach and education. Funding was limited and relied mostly upon public contributions and the "Chickadee Checkoff" donation line on Iowa's state income tax forms. This small income stream allowed the program staff little room for growth, even though responsibilities mushroomed over the ensuing two decades.
While adding little to the WDP's annual operations budget, two new sources of funding have opened many new opportunities for increased program effectiveness. Since 2001 Congress has provided annual appropriations to states in the form of "State Wildlife Grants" that may be used to target specific nongame research and management needs. These grants require a state or local match, which has been provided by numerous partners such as Iowa State University, Audubon, Pheasants Forever and many others. More recently, a portion of the annual income from the sale of Iowa's popular Natural Resource license plates has been dedicated to provide some of this match.
Today, the Wildlife Diversity Program is staffed by a Program Coordinator, two Wildlife Biologists, and one Natural Resource Technicians. Activity focus has shifted to landscape and ecosystem management, statewide inventory and monitoring of all wildlife species, and training volunteer wildlife surveyors, while still continuing public outreach functions and a reduced species reintroduction program. The program also currently oversees implementation of the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy that will help guide DNR's fish and wildlife management activities over the next 25 years.
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