Snapper Photo Courtesy of pixabay.com
Iowa has 17 species of turtles with most being aquatic out of the 356 species found worldwide. Turtles are the oldest reptile and fossils found date during the Jurassic time period, older than snakes and crocs.
Tortoises and fresh water turtles are the most threatened with extinction than any other vertebrate. They have a lot of human pressure against them with the large Asian trade, over harvesting, water and land pollution and habitat destruction.
Another challenge turtles face is they do not reach sexual maturity until they are several years old and do not mate annually. Unfortunately, turtles are difficult to re-establish once gone from an area. They can be defined as in a “fragile” state with fingers crossed for their sustainability.
Most are considered in the common category, however there are some species that are threatened in the state and all around turtle abundance of common species of years gone by is no longer their current status and overall are declining. It is no longer typical to see logs and logs of turtles sunning as you recreate on rivers. You may paddle some rivers and sections and not see any turtles.
Iowa turtles have many challenges with loss of habitat and over harvest and only recent regulations placed. Many are sold to Asian markets by commercial hunters resulting in lower populations of turtles across some of their past locales. Iowa’s regulations and limits began in 2017.
- Open December 15 until May 14.
- Closed May 15 until July 15.
- Open July 16 until January 10.
Continuous open season.
You can take and possess a maximum of 100 pounds of live turtles or 50 pounds of dressed turtles.
Painted turtle, Daily catch limit – 1
Common snapping turtle, Daily catch limit – 4
- You need a fishing license to take common snapping turtles, spiny softshells, smooth softshells, and painted turtles.
- Nonresidents can only take common snapping turtles, spiny softshells, smooth softshells, and painted turtles from the Missouri, Mississippi and Big Sioux rivers.
- You must have a special license to sell live or dressed turtles.
- You cannot take turtle eggs from the wild.
- You can take turtles only by hand, turtle hook, turtle trap or hook and line.
- You cannot sort, cull, high-grade, or otherwise replace any turtle in possession.
- Turtle traps must have no more than one throat or funneling device.
- All turtle traps must have a functional escape hole provided with a minimum diameter in all directions of 7-1/2 inches to let fish and small turtles pass through.
- The 7-1/2 inch escape hole on hoop type traps must be in the last hoop to the tail-line.
- Set all turtle traps with the top of the trap visible above the waterline at all times.
- You must attach an all-weather gear tag above the waterline to each piece of gear. The gear tag must plainly display the name, address, and license number of the licensee.
- Check each trap and empty the catch at least every 72 hours (3 days). When checked, turtles shall be taken into possession or released immediately.