The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently held a public hearing on the rules covering the new apprentice hunting licenses and are moving ahead with implementation. D-N-R hunter education administrator, Megan Wisecup, says it allows people to bypass the hunter education requirement while they learn. She says the program is for people over the age of 16 to try and get them interested in hunting by giving them a chance to go out before they need to invest in any equipment. Providing supervision is a key part of the apprentice license.
“It requires that they have a mentor with them, which is another hunter who is 18 or over and properly licensed as well. And they must maintain direct supervision between that mentor and menteee,” Wisecup says. She says once someone learns more about hunting, they are more likely to continue going out. “There’s 36 states that currently an apprentice license of some sort in place and they’ve attributed over one million new hunters coming into the fold since those programs went out. So, definitely once they have the opportunity to try it, they get hooked and then they come back and meet the hunter education requirements and successfully hunt on their own,” Wisecup says.
She says they already have thousands of people signed up for the hunter safety courses and hope this program brings in more. “There’s around 10 to 12-thousand that kind of fit in that age group that we are trying to reach out to, so we are kind of hoping we might double or triple that number,” Wisecup says. A person may purchase the apprentice hunting licenses two times without having completed hunter education course.
The apprentice program was approved by the Iowa legislature and signed by Governor Terry Branstad during the 2015 legislative session.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Water Works against several upstream agriculture drainage districts will not go to trial in August. A three-week federal court trial was initially set to begin Aug. 8 but on Monday Judge Leonard Strand issued an order continuing it due to scheduling conflicts. A new date will be set when he meets with attorneys on May 11.
The water utility for about 500,000 central Iowa customers blames farmland runoff for high levels of nitrate that has caused it to spend millions of dollars to remove the contaminant to comply with federal water quality regulations.
Water Works officials want farm drainage districts to have to get pollution discharge permits under the federal Clean Water Act to help control farm contaminants leaching into rivers and streams.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources say they will release two trumpeter swans at Lake Icaria Recreation Area, near Corning, rain or shine at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 12th. The release site is located 5 miles north of Corning on Hwy. 148, and then three miles east on 160th Street (gravel) to the east boat ramp on the north side of Lake Icaria.
The release includes a 20-minute swan/wetland presentation, a unique opportunity to touch and view the swans up close and a historic photo opportunity with the kids. As the largest North American waterfowl, these magnificent all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds with an 8-foot wingspan.
Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s. By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states. The trumpeter swans being released are part of the Iowa DNR’s statewide trumpeter swan restoration effort, with hopes that they will help restore a wild free flying population to Iowa.
Wet weather slowed progress, but Iowa farmers were able to get some planting done last week. The latest crop report from the U-S-D-A shows 40 percent of the corn acres have been planted. That’s up from 13 percent reported last week. The planting is already six days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the five-year average.
The report says farmers in the north central, central, and southeast portions of Iowa have made the most progress — with half their corn crop now in the ground. The U-S-D-A report did not mention any soybean planting, but Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey says he’s heard some reports of farmers already starting to plant their beans.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is reminding eligible farm owners that the deadline to apply for the 2016 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1st, 2016. The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms. Northey said “This program is a great way to highlight the deep history and strong heritage of agriculture in our state.”
Applications are available on the Department’s website at www.IowaAgriculture.gov by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”
Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at Becky.Lorenz@IowaAgriculture.gov or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.
The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. The ceremony to recognize the 2016 Century and Heritage Farms is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, August 18th in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.
This is the 40th anniversary of the Century Farm program, which was started in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration. To date more than 18,600 farms from across the state have received this recognition. The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and 837 farms have been recognized. Last year 366 Century Farms and 101 Heritage Farms were recognized.
We should be done with snow until fall now and Iowans are digging full-swing into their spring gardening and landscaping projects. Yindra Dixon, a master gardener with the U-S-D-A, says there are around 20 key invasive insects all Iowans should know on sight, bugs that could do serious damage to everything we’re planting. Dixon says if you spot one of them, let the experts know.
“Don’t worry about it being an infestation,” Dixon says. “If you see one bug, that’s enough to report. You can go directly to HungryPests.com, you can search by state or by pest, you can see the pest and what they look like at different growth stages and what types of symptoms they may exhibit on the affected plants.” Dixon works in the U-S-D-A’s APHIS division, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. She says it’s important if Iowans see a potentially-harmful insect, that they report it.
“There are definitely a lot of things at risk when we let these hungry pests just roam around the world,” Dixon says. “They spread without resistance, they damage our crops, plants and trees and they cause a serious threat to our economy and even to public health.” One of the biggest threats in Iowa is the emerald ash borer, which kills ash trees. It’s confirmed in at least 30 Iowa counties and millions of dollars are being spent to try and prevent its spread. There are several other pests on the agency’s most-wanted list.
“One of the most serious is the Asian longhorned beetle,” Dixon says. “It affects hardwoods and maple trees. It has a perfectly round, three-quarter inch exit hole and sometimes can be mistaken for someone shooting at a tree. The most important thing is, if you see these holes, you contact someone right away.” While butterflies like monarchs are valued creatures for the pollination process, several breeds of moths are considered serious pests, including the Asian and European gypsy moths.
“The way that we can stop the spread the best with the gypsy moth is by looking for gypsy moth egg masses,” Dixon says. “The egg masses tend to stick to walls, fences, outdoor furniture, grills, campers. We can scrape off those egg masses and drop them into soapy water in order to kill the eggs.” An agency report finds invasive species of insects can spread quickly and cost the nation 120-billion dollars a year. Learn all about the most invasive pests and the U-S-D-A website www.hungrypests.com.
As more people look to have control over how their food is grown, many are planting gardens for the first time. Some are even turning their backyards into chicken coops. On a recent Thursday night at a Cedar Falls farm store, Cargill animal nutrition specialist Jodi Holmes was answering questions about raising the birds. “How much space do I need, how much feed will I go through, do I need a rooster to get eggs? Some of those basic questions, clear up to what temperature do I need to set the brooder at, so it can get pretty technical,” according toe Holmes.
Paul Keller and his family raise organic vegetables near Janesville. He says they spent a good deal of time doing research before deciding to add poultry to the mix. “We did a lot reading and a lot of videos and stuff like that. We just got our chicks and we’re setting up the hen house. We want to make sure we’re doing it right and don’t have any major mistakes,” Keller says. Animal specialist Holmes admits sometimes finding out what it takes to be a backyard farmer is enough to curb the enthusiasm.
“And I started telling her you need a brooder and a heat lamp and this for feed and this for water and she was instantly “it’s too much I’m out’ and you know- you are going to have people like that. That’s where the education part of these seminars comes in. Because if you get into and lose a whole batch of chicks, it’s frustrating and a lot people will never do it again,” Holmes says. Iowa had a costly brush with avian flu last spring which killed millions of the state’s chickens. Holmes says now there’s extra attention being placed on bio security.
“So making sure that they’re washing their hands and their tools, and not sharing between their farm and their neighbor’s farm,” Holmes explains, “quarantining new birds until they’re proven healthy to integrate with their existing flocks.” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says while most of the bird flu was confined to large commercial flocks it would be foolish not to be vigilant about what’s going on in our backyard.