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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Governor delays Iowa turtle trapping rules

Sep 30, 2016

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has delayed the implementation of proposed turtle trapping restrictions for the state because he thinks more time is needed to hear from the trappers who would be affected by them, a spokesman said.

Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill during the last legislative session that would require the state's Department of Natural Resources to set a trapping season and daily catch limit for commercial turtle trapping. Branstad signed it into law and gave the DNR until Sept. 19 to propose a trapping season and daily catch limit, which it did, but he hasn't signed off on the proposed restrictions.

A spokesman for the governor said the process has been delayed to make sure that everyone who would be affected will have their voices heard, the Des Moines Register reported.

Commercial trappers are currently allowed to catch unlimited numbers of certain turtles. This year, about 50 Iowans are licensed to do so, and they rely on the income they earn from trapping and selling turtles.

Molly Hanson, executive director of Iowa Rivers Revival, which has supported limits on commercial turtle trapping, said the governor's reasoning is flawed. She and biologists are worried about the sustainability of the state's turtle population.

"The argument of not enough inclusiveness, opportunity to speak, time — I don't really believe that that's valid anymore," Hanson said. "I believe the process has gone through extensive comment periods and opportunities for people on all sides to be able to weigh in on the situation."

The DNR initially proposed banning commercial trapping during the turtles' six-month nesting season and limiting the number of turtles trappers could take each day to 14 snapping turtles, one softshell turtle and three painted turtles. This has been delayed because of the requested stakeholder meeting the DNR must hold before sending a revised proposal. If there are no more delays, the law could be implemented Feb. 8.

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