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This is not a complete set of hunting, fishing and trapping laws but contains the information you are most likely to need to safely participate in these outdoor activities.
2017-18 Hunting, Trapping and Migratory Game Bird Regulations Regulations
Season Dates, Upland Game Hunting Regulations, Migratory Game Bird Seasons & Limits, Deer Hunting Regulations, Fall Turkey Regulations, Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations, Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Information, Sunrise-Sunset Table
The links below provide maps of areas closed to the hunting of Canada geese. Additional refuge areas exist on some state wildlife management areas that are closed to ALL hunting. These maps are provided as a convenience to hunters to increase awareness of areas closed to the taking of Canada geese. Every effort has been made to insure the accuracy of these maps; however, the boundaries shown on these maps are approximate representations, and hunters should consult the Code of Iowa for exact written descriptions of refuge areas.
Why is the DNR banding ducks and geese?
When banded birds are recovered by hunters or recaptured by other banders and the recovery/recapture information is reported to the USGS Bird Banding Lab, we can learn how long the bird has lived and where it is at a specific time of the year. Banding projects that are implemented during brood-rearing or nesting periods can also tell us where birds go to reproduce and, in some cases, if they nested. Band recoveries from birds killed by hunters tell us where and when the birds from the banded population are being harvested. If a large enough sample of birds are banded and recovered annually, biologists can estimate the average survival of the birds in the population. This is important for monitoring the status of most populations of ducks and geese, but particularly important for species that cannot be directly counted such as wood ducks.
How many ducks and geese are usually banded in Iowa?
DNR Wildlife staff band from 4,000 to 5,000 ducks and 4,000 to 6,000 giant Canada geese in Iowa each year. Ducks and geese are banded throughout the state. Most of the banded birds are young-of-the-year, i.e., they hatched the same year they were banded. Most of the banded ducks are wood ducks, although other species are banded as well.
When are geese and ducks banded in Iowa?
Geese are banded in late June and early July, while in their flightless stage. Ducks are banded after ducklings have attained a size adequate for handling and attaching bands without harming the birds, usually beginning in late July and continuing until the first week in September. The June 2000 Wildlife Bureau Featured Activity article "June means Jewelry for Geese" provides information regarding the Bureau's annual goose banding activities.
If I recover a banded bird while I'm hunting, can I keep the band?
Yes, you can keep the band. Many hunters like to collect their bands as mementos of their hunts. We only ask that you report the band number, and the date and location where you harvested the bird.
To whom should I report the banded duck (or goose) that I shot?
You should report all banded ducks and geese that you recover to the Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) in Washington D.C. The BBL keeps records of all migratory birds banded in North America. You can do this over the phone by calling (toll free) 1-800-327-2263 or over the Internet via the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Lab website, reportband.gov. The BBL will send you a certificate with information about the banded bird that you recovered.
Want to learn more about bird banding?
The U.S. Geological Survey - Patuxent Wildlife Research Center - Bird Banding Laboratory coordinates all bird banding done in the United States and maintains records of band recoveries. For additional information regarding the hows and whys of bird banding we recommend visiting the Bird Banding Lab's site.
Waterfowl Season Summary
The DNR uses many sources of information when considering season dates - migration survey, federal harvest surveys, and hunter surveys, and is summarized in the linked presentation.
Developing Waterfowl hunting Season Regulations
Waterfowl are migratory birds and are influenced by factors that occur both within the state and beyond Iowa’s borders. Working with state wildlife agencies through the Flyway Councils, the US Fish and Wildlife Service identifies a range of reasonable alternatives for waterfowl hunting seasons.
The Annual Process of Developing Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
Migratory game bird regulations are governed by a cooperative process involving Iowa government rules, nationally with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and internationally with Canada under the Migratory Game Bird Treaty. This is a step by step process that begins in January of each year and must be followed in order that the waterfowl seasons are allowed to open each fall.
For the 2017-2018 season, the north zone is all of Iowa north of a line beginning on the South Dakota-Iowa border at Interstate 29, southeast to State Hwy. 175, east to State Hwy. 37, southeast to State Hwy. 183, northeast to State Hwy. 141, east to U.S. Hwy. 30, and along U.S. Hwy. 30 to the Iowa-Illinois border.
The Missouri River Zone includes all lands and waters in Iowa west of Interstate 29.
The South Zone is the remainder of the state.
Habitat Acquisition Statistics: Prairie Pothole Joint Venture
Special September Canada goose seasons are open on specified dates during the first two weeks of September in the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, and Waterloo-Cedar Falls zones.
Canada Goose Zone boundary Maps:
Map: Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Zone
Map: Des Moines Zone
Map: Waterloo/Cedar Falls Zone
Textual Descriptions of Zone Boundaries
This special season is designed to increase the harvest of local Canada geese in and around urban centers to decrease conflicts between geese and people. Geese that reside in urban areas are generally exposed to less hunting pressure during regular goose seasons than geese in rural areas. Consequently urban goose populations often grow at faster rates than rural populations. Federal regulations require that this additional hunting opportunity be offered only when migrant Canada geese are not in Iowa. The geese harvested during this special season will predominantly be local Canada geese from the immediate area in and around the hunting zone, the same geese that are causing problems on golf courses, housing and business complexes and airports.
Establishing this zone does not constitute permission to hunt. Hunters must obtain permission from the person or entity in lawful control of the land to hunt geese. Shaded areas on the map denote approximate city boundaries. Permission to hunt within city limits must be granted by the city. Permission from the landowner, tenant or other person in lawful control of the land must always be obtained to hunt private land within or outside of city limits. Public areas outside of city limits may or may not be open to hunting. Check with the local land manager before attempting to hunt.
Fill with several inches of course wood shavings (not sawdust) and place on pipes over water. Erecting the boxes over land or in trees invites predators and extra measures must be taken to predator proof your nest box.
Download a simple wood duck box template
Flyways.us is a collaborative effort of waterfowl managers across the continent. They report on the latest migratory bird hunting activity and harvest numbers.
Hunting / Fishing Licenses- Purchase or Renew - Online Registration
Wetland Habitat Conditions(Final Report: October 19, 2017)
Waterfowl Migration Report(For week of December 13, 2017)
We work hard to keep our calendar current, but always refer to the hunting regulation booklet for official, legal season dates.