Turtles are declining in Iowa and remain at best a very vulnerable, fragile population. They have many challenges facing them. It includes habitat loss and destruction through drought, flooding, and human disruption. Other challenges are a long harvest season, over-harvesting by Sport and Commercial hunters and an unquenchable export business to Asian markets.
Iowa’s 750 impaired polluted waterways, low hatch-ling survival, and high nest predation by several species of common animal predators will continue to keep these beloved reptiles vulnerable.
During nesting timelines, there are a large number of car-turtle collisions for the egg laying females as well as being easy targets for capture for pet use when crossing roads, parks and common areas.
It takes 7-11 years to reach sexual maturity for females, so their loss is magnified. Once they are gone from a habitat, it is difficult to re-establish them.
There is hope for a future readjustment to their long harvest season and high possession limits.
Bill #HF2357 requires the Iowa DNR to complete a turtle study to see if the current regulations provide a sustainable population. The study will be provided to the Iowa Legislature by January 1, 2021. Let’s hope it is not too late.