Bobcat sightings in Iowa raise a lot of concern in the past year as the small cats were sometimes mistaken for mountain lions. The first bobcat season was held in Iowa in 2007. D-N-R furbearer biologist, Vince Evelsizer, says the return of the bobcats to Iowa is a good wildlife story. “The bobcat population is stable to increasing in some areas, and so overall it has been generally a very successful wildlife story for Iowa that all Iowans can be excited about,” Evelsizer says. The bobcat population is mainly in the southern part of the state.
The first season began with a quota for hunters that ended the season once 150 animals had been taken. That quota gradually increased to 450 last season. But Evelsizer says they felt the population was strong enough to not limit the amount of animals taken. “This year the quota was lifted, but the bag possession limit was still one per fur harvester. What it did is it gave both trappers and predator hunters a chance to harvest their animal later into the season,” Evelsizer says. It appears the bobcat season has gone well with the change.
“So far feedback has been positive in that they appreciate that opportunity,” Evelsizer says. “Success has been variable around the southern part of the state — with some folks doing well and other not as well as they hoped to. I think some of that is the cold weather that set in earlier this year.” The bobcat population came back without special help form the state. Otters on the other hand got some help being reintroduced into Iowa waters. Evelsizer says the otter limit was reduced from three to two this year to prevent too many from being taken.
“That population is doing fairly well statewide. They’re doing the best in the eastern half of the state — especially in the Cedar and Iowa River watersheds,” according to Evelsizer. To find out more about the bobcat and otter seasons, go to the Iowa D-N-R’s website at: www.iowadnr.gov.
OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — Veterans interested in farming will have more opportunities to learn about the trade in 2014. The newly formed Farmer Veteran Coalition of Iowa will hold four workshops aimed at helping individuals interested in starting a farm business or finding employment in agriculture. The one-day workshops will focus on networking opportunities and education. They follow a statewide conference held Dec. 14 in Des Moines.
The first workshop will be held Feb. 20 in Ottumwa. The others will be held Feb. 22 in Waterloo, March 13 in Red Oak and March 15 in Storm Lake. Coalition chair Ed Cox says veterans are a distinct group of farmers with diverse interests, but they all have a history of service and a desire to provide food to their communities.
Republican Congressman Steve King says a Farm Bill deal won’t necessarily be easy to strike in early 2014. King is one of the Farm Bill conference committee members who’ve been trying to strike a deal for the past few months. “There are a number of unresolved issues that we’re not able to get an agreement between the conferees and the principle negotiators,” King says. “That means we’re likely to have to sit down — the 41 of us — and let’s just say we’ll have to fight it out.” The House passed another extension of current farm law in December, but the Senate did not, hoping that would put more pressure on negotiators to come up with a compromise in early January.
“That’s going to be the item that’s going to be on the front of our plate from the moment we touch down there,” King says. “It is right now, as a matter of fact. We’re working this thing behind the scenes pretty hard.” Negotiators have yet to resolve the thorniest issue: how deeply to cut food stamp benefits. House Republicans have voted for a reduction that’s 10 times deeper than Senate Democrats endorsed when the Farm Bill cleared the senate this summer.
The Cass County Conservation Department has teamed up with Atlantic’s Orscheln’s store to help feed the Trumpeter Swans, now through January 31st. Officials say you can buy a bag of Whole Cleaned Corn at the registers and Orscheln’s staff will put it aside for the Trumpeter Swans. Four bags will fill the feeder, and the Conservation Dept. appreciates your help in keeping it full.
Here’s a reminder also, to join Cass County Conservation Staff at Atlantic’s Schildberg Recreation Area this Saturday, January 4th, for ten-minute presentations on the Trumpeter Swans. Conservation staffers will give the presentations every half-hour beginning at 11-a.m., with the last one being presented at 2:00 p.m.
The Schildberg Quarry is located on the northwest edge of Atlantic, on the north side of Highway 83. In the event of bad weather, or if the swans are not present at the quarry, the program will be held at the Atlantic Public Library from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. with a light lunch available.
The event is sponsored by the Cass County Conservation Board, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Atlantic Public Library.
Iowa livestock confinement and commercial manure applicators should start to plan now for taking their required training to renew their certificates. Jeff Prier, at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says testing will begin early next month. “It starts in January and it runs through February for most of the confinement applicators,” Prier says. “The commercial guys, there’s basically two days that they can get video or live training. It’s a three-hour class that the commercial guys sit through and it’s a two-hour class that the confinement people sit through.”
Prier says classes will be offered at locations all over the state. “There’s different county extension offices that they can call into to make a reservation so there’s enough seating,” Prier says, while there are day and night classes available for the confinement applicators. Prier says there are a couple of reasons why applicators need to take the training course. “The most important reason is that state law requires it,” Prier says. “The second reason to get certified is there’s a lot of knowledge gained on how to handle spills and respond so you minimize the impact to the environment which sometimes minimizes the impact to your pocketbook.”
The Iowa D-N-R certified 2,538 commercial and 2,310 confinement site manure applicators in 2013. Learn more about the training at www.iowacnaa.org or by contacting your nearest Iowa State University Extension Office.
One estimate finds it will cost more than three-billion dollars to eliminate all ash trees from Iowa’s communities as the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer marches forward. The estimate comes from state forester Paul Tauke, who says there are more than three-million ash trees in Iowa’s urban areas, which are all at risk of being devoured by the destructive insects. “Once you reach the point where ash trees are declining and dying, basically, every ash tree in town will be dead in 5 or 6 years,” Tauke says. “The longer you wait, the longer you stick your head in the sand, the more impact you will have and troubles you’re gonna have when it finally shows up on your doorstep.”
Tauke says communities should start with a tree census and an action plan. He expects the Asian beetle to spread relatively quickly through counties in southeast Iowa that are now under a firewood quarantine. It’s not unusual for endangered ash trees to comprise 15-20 percent of a town’s total tree inventory. Tauke says Iowa’s cities and towns will face new budget challenges as the Asian beetle widens its attack on ash trees across the state.
“They have absolutely got to be removed because they’re going to present a public safety hazard to the citizens of that community and to homeowners,” Tauke says. “We estimate just the removal costs of those ash trees as they start to decline is going to be 3 to 3.5 billion dollars. Somebody’s going to have to pay for that.”
Burlington alone is looking at removal expenses of one-million dollars for nearly 900 ash trees. Including rural areas, where cutting them down is not as pressing, the state has up to 60-million ash trees.
Assuming there’s snow on the ground, the Hitchock Nature Center in Honey Creek will hold its annual guided snowshoe hike through the Loess Hills on Jan. 11th. The Omaha World-Herald reports the event is scheduled to start at 10-a.m. and 1-p.m., and will allow visitors to learn about winter ecology, the animals and migrant birds.
Each hike averages about 15-to 20-people. The event is designed for those 12 and older, and costs $5 per person. The price includes the hike, refreshments and use of snowshoes. Pre-registration and pre-payment is required by Jan. 10th. You can call 712-242-1197 to register.
There must be at least 4-inches of snow on the ground in order for the event to take place. If there’s no snow, the Hitchcock Center will cancel the event and return your registration fees.
For more information, go to www.pottcoconservation.com/parks-and-habitat-areas/hitchcock-nature-center/