Iowa Department of Natural Resources Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator Program
The progressive loss of Iowa’s woodlands and farmlands to development is increasing the chance for conflicts between humans and wildlife. Social trends, such as increased urbanization, increased populations of certain wildlife species, and finite government resources have combined to provide the opportunity for more involvement from the private sector in the prevention and control of wildlife damage and nuisance situations.
1. Less land is available to wildlife. Natural habitat, like older woodlots with hollow trees, may not be readily available for wild animals. The lack of traditional den sites may cause wild animals to use chimneys and attics as alternate shelter or den site (This is common for species such as squirrels and raccoons.) Animals displaced from their habitat by new home or business construction may reestablish themselves in new surroundings.
2. Reclusive species lose habitat, while opportunistic species, such as raccoons, build populations to unnaturally high densities.
3. Many people move from the city out into the country or newly developed area, often bringing with them an unfamiliarity with wild animals and their habits.
These consequences of development have combined to make the problem of wildlife damage and nuisance control a major concern of wildlife management and law enforcement personnel.
Wildlife Damage and Wildlife “Nuisance”
The term “damage” is easily understood, however, “nuisance” means different things to different people. For some, the mere presence of a raccoon in a tree in the woods near their house constitutes an intolerable situation. For others, catching a glimpse of the same animal would be a thrilling and rewarding experience.
Obviously, education can play an important role in nuisance recognition and resolution. A wild animal that poses no real threat to the safety of the public, livestock, crops or property should not be viewed as a nuisance simply because it exists. A public that is knowledgeable about the habits and life history of wild animals is better equipped to recognize and solve wildlife damage and nuisance situations.
The role of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is to ensure the well-being of the state’s wildlife populations while also assuring that individual wild animals are not posing a threat to human safety or creating unreasonable property, crop or livestock damage. As long as humans coexists with wild animals, conflicts (some real, and some unfounded) will arise. The DNR attempts to resolve these conflicts through direct action, education, and technical assistance in cooperation with private businesses, the federal government, and other agencies. Care must be taken to ensure that damage and nuisance control measures are necessary and
Wild animals exhibit a number of predatory and competitive behaviors that can be misinterpreted as cruel, aggressive, or detrimental by the public. These behaviors are natural, necessary for species survival, and should not necessarily be viewed as harmful. All wild animals, except those owned by specially licensed shooting preserves and licensed game breeders, are public property, and are therefore subject to controls and
The Role of Hunting and Trapping in Nuisance Control
Many nuisance situations are the result of high populations of a particular species. An annual, regulated harvest during the hunting and trapping seasons is the preferred and most practical method of reducing populations to alleviate animal-caused damage. A sustained annual harvest of raccoon, beaver, muskrat and other species provides recreation and income for hunters and fur-harvesters and is the most important single factor in decreasing the potential for wildlife damage and conflict to occur.
However, regular season hunting and trapping alone may not represent adequate solutions under the
1. If damage is extensive and occurs well outside the normal hunting and trapping seasons.
2. If damage is the result of an individual animal rather than the over abundance of an entire population.
3. If problems are being caused by species that are normally not harvested during the hunting and trapping seasons, generally due to lack of harvest efforts by sportspersons, such as squirrels and
4. If problems are occurring in highly urbanized areas where hunting and/or trapping are not practical or In such situations where regular season harvests are not successful or practical in controlling animal damage, a more structured approach to the problem is required.
Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Control Permits
Under the authority of the Iowa Code Chapters 455A., 456A., 481A., 483A., the Department of Natural
Resources administers a permit system for licensing individuals who meet established criteria who desire to establish a business to address the issues of nuisance animal control.
This system allows nuisance wild animals and wild animals causing damage to property to be taken during times of the year and by methods not normally allowed under the regular hunting and trapping regulations.
This process helps both the person who believes they have a legitimate nuisance animal problem, and the
Department of Natural Resources, in that this system permits specially licensed individuals to address the nuisance animal problem, which in turn allows state conservation officers and biologists to commit more time to more important aspects of their respective jobs.
Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 571-114 outlines the requirements of the Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator Program. Additional requirements are found in the “Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Guidebook”.
Disclaimer: The Iowa Code and Iowa Administrative Rules listed in this manual were current when this manual was printed. Updates will be provided as changes take place. However, this manual is only a synopsis of the most pertinent Iowa regulations. For further clarification contact your conservation officer.
General Conditions for Permits:
- Be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid driver’s license.
- Pass a written examination with a minimum score of 80% before a permit is issued. If an applicant fails the examination, they must wait 45 days before being permitted to retake the examination. If the applicant fails the test a second time, they must wait a period of six months before reapplying.
- Not currently be under any license suspension or revocation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or any court.
- The applicant must successfully complete an oral, in-person interview with a representative of the department to determine the applicant’s knowledge of wildlife and wildlife capture techniques, and to determine if the applicant has the ability to provide effective services to the public.
- A $ 25.00 testing fee will be assessed when the applicant successfully completes the test. (Permit renewals will be $ 20.00).
- Possess a valid fur harvester license and have paid the habitat stamp fee.
NUISANCE WILDLIFE CONTROL RULES AND REGULATIONS
The rules and regulations concerning nuisance animal control permits are outlined in Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 571-114 and are found in other sections of this manual. The primary policy and procedural regulations are outlined in the following section:
Terms of Permit:
- The permittee is not a representative or agent of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), but is a private contractor.
- Permittee may take, possess, and transport species protected by the Iowa Code in accordance with the terms/conditions/limitations of this permit.
- The permittee must possess a valid NWCO permit and a valid fur-harvester license and habitat stamp. Partners or assistants must also possess a valid furharvester license and pay the habitat stamp fee.
The permit shall be issued on an annual basis and expire on January 10th of each year and is not transferable.
- All traps must be tagged with the permittee’s name and address.
- All traps must be checked, and any captured animals/birds removed, at least once every 24 hours. Permittee’s who rent, lend, or otherwise transfer traps to clients under authority of this permit are responsible for the client’s compliance with this requirement.
- It will be the responsibility of the permittee to obtain proper authorization from political subdivisions when necessary to carry out nuisance wildlife control work in those respective communities, and to obtain the necessary and proper municipal, state, and federal permits when and where required.
- Permittee may not take, possess, or transport migratory birds or threatened or endangered species without special authorization from the DNR and accompanying state and/or federal permits when/where required.
- Permittee must describe the estimated costs and types of control that will be used to alleviate damage and obtain the landowner’s or tenant’s permission before initiating control efforts.
- 9. Injured protected birds may be taken to one of the DNR’s licensed wildlife rehabilitators or to a person or facility designated by the local state conservation officer or wildlife biologist. When injured animals or birds are encountered, the local conservation officer or biologist may be contacted for advice.
- Animals which are euthanized or found dead will be promptly and properly disposed of by the permittee. The carcasses of all dead nuisance animals must be disposed of within 24 hours of their discovery. Methods of proper disposal include:
1. Taking the carcass to an approved landfill that will accept it.
2. Taking the carcass to, or having it picked up by a renderer.
3. Taking the carcass to an approved incinerator site.
4. Burying the carcass outside the city limits. Above ground disposal of the carcasses is not permitted.
Expenses/costs related to euthanizing an animal or disposal of carcasses is the responsibility of the permittee.
- Animals may not be kept in possession of the permittee for more than 24 hours. During that time, animals/birds taken during control operations should be released, taken to a wildlife rehabilitator, or euthanized. No live animals may be taken from the state. Animals and/or birds and/or their parts may not be retained for any purpose, and shall not be sold or given to other individuals. (This will exclude fur-bearing animals taken during the open season in rural settings when the permittee has the understanding and approval of the landowner to do so.) Animals and/or birds may not be used for display or programs, kept in captivity, or used for training dogs.
- Animals which are relocated must released in suitable habitat at least ten miles from the original capture site. Animals are not to be liberated in an area close to human dwellings, which would result in a transfer of, rather than a solution to, the nuisance problem. Animals shall not be released inside the city limits of any city.
- A record shall be kept by the permit holder indicating the following information:
a. location of call
b. numbers and species of animals/birds removed
c. date of action
d. disposition of these animals/birds
These records shall be updated within 24 hours of the event and shall be open to inspection by the Department’s representative at any time. This information shall be documented in an annual report, covering the calendar year, which shall be filed with the DNR by January 31st of each year. Failure to file an annual report by January 31st shall be cause for permit revocation/cancellation.
A NWCO permit may be renewed by the department when all reporting requirements for the previous year have been met. An administration fee of $ 20.00 will be assessed at the time of renewal.
- The permittee or their designee shall be in possession of this permit while engaged in nuisance wildlife control activities and shall show the permit to any officer or landowner requesting to see it.
- All wildlife handled under the terms of this permit shall be handled and treated as humanely as possible.
- The use of firearms to destroy an animal or bird is prohibited inside any city limits. The use of firearms elsewhere shall be subject to all state restrictions.
- The use of poison is prohibited for the taking of any gamebird or animal.
(except as outlined in Iowa Administrative Code 571-100.2 [481A] ).
- Methods of euthanizing animals must be approved by the Department, and include:
c. Inhalants, including; anesthetics such as ether, halothane, methoxyflurane, isoflurane, nitrous oxide, or carbon monoxide, or carbon dioxide
d. Noninhalant pharmaceutical agents (injectables) excluding; strychnine, nicotine, magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride, and chloroform.
All applicable laws must be followed governing the acquisition, use, and storage of any of the chemicals or agents used to conduct euthanasia. Proper euthanasia methods must be used, and appropriate disposal of the animal carcasses, is required.
- Any violation of the terms/limitations/conditions of this permit as outlined above, or violations under 481A.130, accrual of habitual offender points as outlined in 481A.134, or court action outlined in 483A.21, will result in the revocation or suspension of this permit.
INFORMATION AND ASSISTANCE
For further information or assistance with nuisance wildlife control or other wildlife issues or questions, please contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources offices in your area:
Central Office- Iowa DNR
502 E 9th St
Des Moines IA 50319-0034
NC Regional Office- Iowa DNR
1203 N Shore Dr
Clear Lake IA 50428
SW Regional Office- Iowa DNR
Cold Springs State Park
57744 Lewis Rd
Lewis IA 51544
NW Regional Office- Iowa DNR
Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery
122 252nd Ave
Spirit Lake IA 51360
SE Regional Office- Iowa DNR
Lake Darling State Park
110 Lake Darling Rd
Brighton IA 52540
NE Regional Office- Iowa DNR
Manchester Fish Hatchery
22693 205th Ave
Manchester IA 52057
Vacant- Furbearer Biologist
1203 N shore Dr
Clear Lake IA 50428
Iowa DNR Wildlife Depredation Biologists:
110 N B St
Indianola IA 50125
1023 W Madison
Washington IA 52353
OTHER REFERENCES / RESOURCES:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Special Agent
629 Federal Bldg.
Des Moines IA 50309
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Division of Migratory BirdsPermit Section
BHW Federal Building
1 Federal Drive
Fort Snelling MN 55111-4056
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
2407 Industrial Drive
Columbia MO 65202-1280
(314) 446-1942 FAX
Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases in the Southeast United States
(applies to Midwest species as well)
$20.00 – Available from:
Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study
College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Georgia
Athens GA 30602-7393
FAX (706) 542-5685
Dept. of Animal Ecology
124 Science II
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50011- 3221
Wildlife Control Technology (A bi-monthly publication for the wildlife control industry)
PO Box 480
Cortland IL 60112
National Animal Damage Control Association
R.R. 1, PO Box 37
Shell Lake WI 54871
Wildlife Pest Control Handbook by Phillip J. Nichols
$ 15.95 + 3.00 shipping = $ 18.95
1-800-724-9468 or by mail:
PO Box 84
Pennsburg PA 18073
Wildlife Health News
PO Box 155
Black Mountain N.C. 28711
(704) 669-2683 or (704) 669-2689
The Trapper and Predator Caller (a monthly publication)
700 E. State Street
Iola WI 54990-0001
National Urban Wildlife Management News
(Official publication of the National Urban Wildlife Management Association)
2801 Benson Mill Rd
Sparks MD 21152