This article was found pasted into a scrap book prepared by Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Mc Dole. Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, September 6, 2014

Outdoor movement started with 1st game law in 1857
1st resident hunting license in 1909 cost $1
By Jim Mayer, Gazette outdoor editor – date of article not known.

After a slow beginning 11 years after Iowa became a state, the outdoor conservation movement in Iowa has reached a high point of activity in the past 25 years. The latest milestone was hit Tuesday with the establishment of the Department of Natural Resources.

The first fish and game law was passed in 1857 - 11 years after Iowa became a state – and prohibited the killing, trapping and ensnaring of deer, elk, fawn, wild turkeys and prairie chickens between Feb. 1 and July 15, except on one’s own property.

From this relatively mild restriction, other fish and game laws, and the departments that wrote and enforced them, were born, and grew.

Jennifer Lancaster, 28, state game warden assigned to Polk County, recapped the milestones in the wildlife conservation movement in Iowa during a speech at the state Izaak Walton League convention recently in Iowa City. Lancaster is a milestone in the movement herself – she headed the first Iowa Conservation Commission Information and Education field office opened in September 1982 in Cedar Rapids, and then on Aug. 8, 1984, she became the first female game warden in the state.

Tuesday the Iowa Conservation Commission, the Department of Water, Air and Waste Management, Geological Survey and parts of the Energy Policy Council became the Iowa Department of Natural Resourced (DNR) with the Conservation Commission’s chief, Larry Wilson, as the first DNR director.

It’s been a long route from that 1857 hunting restriction to the DNR. Here’s a summary of the milestones gleaned from Lancaster’s research:

1862 – First law protecting fish declared it unlawful to take trout except by hook and line. Trout season was open from Jan. 1 to Sept. 14 with a $3 fine for trout taken illegally.

1874 – Standing committee on fish and game started in both houses of the General Assembly. The 15th General Assembly appointed a Fish Commission to be composed of “three competent persons” paid $200 each per year. This was the forerunner of the Iowa Conservation Commission.

Also, $2,000 was appropriated for propagation of fish and $1,000 to procure and distribute 500,000 eels.

The first fish hatchery was established at Anamosa to hatch and raise trout and salmon.

Hunters were shooting passenger pigeons, ruffed grouse and prairie chicken.

1876 - $8,750 appropriated to construct a permanent fish hatchery, which was completed at Anamosa in 1878. The hatchery closed 30 years later when the spring that fed the operation dried up.

The 16th General Assembly changed the three-man Fish Commission to a one-man job, the fish commissioner. He was paid $1,200.

1880 – Fish hatchery built at Spirit Lake on the site of the present hatchery. Walleye and Northerns were raised.

1891 – R. K. Soper, the first fish commissioner, pushed for power to enforce fish and game laws.

1893 – Fish Commissioner J. J. Gregs set up an unpaid deputy game warden system and prosecuted more than 600 people for violation of fish laws.

1897 – Fish commissioner’s title was changed to fish and game warden. His deputies remained unpaid.

1900 – First hunting licenses issued to non-residents only.

1906 – Deputy game wardens now number 223, all part time, usually businessmen who resisted arresting lawbreakers in their own towns.

1909 – First state hunting license for residents required. It cost $1. That put the Fish and Game Division on a self-supporting basis.

The General Assembly prohibited the sale of game and placed a 25 daily and 50 possession limit on ducks. This effectively brought an end to the legal market hunting in Iowa, except for rabbits.

Deputy game wardens were paid $2.50 a day.

1912 – Hungarian partridge stocking was under way.

Fishing and trapping licenses first required of men. Women didn’t need them until 1938.

1915 – State was stocking pheasants. The original private stocking came about 10 years earlier when private penned pheasant escaped.

1917 – Law passed authorizing the establishment of parks and preserves under the Board of Conservation. Earlier, private associations including the Iowa Park and Forestry Association and the Park and Forestry Association, attempted and failed, to establish a park system, and it was disbanded in 1914, followed by the short-lived Iowa Forestry and Conservation Commission.

1931 – Fish and Game Department became the State Fish and Game Commission, a five-man panel appointed by the governor.

1935 – Fish and Game Commission and Board of Conservation merged to form the Iowa Conservation Commission, a seven-person board named by the governor. The first professional trained forester was hired (Iowa now has 24).

There was a 30-day waterfowl season, no season on grouse or prairie chicken, trapping season was similar to now, except there were no beaver or otter trapped. The deer population was estimated at from 500 to 700.

Most Fishing seasons opened in mid-May and closed in the early fall. There were catch and length limits on nearly all game fish.

The 1930’s saw the most dramatic expansion of state parks with several federal agencies helping in building and developing recreation areas - agencies such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which built approximately 30 parks.

1936 – Pheasant hunting was open in 38 counties in northern Iowa with the season Nov. 20-26, bags limit of thee, of which one could be a hen.

1943 – First bill introduced to create county conservation boards and programs. The bill did not pass until 1955. The first project, Hannen Lake in Benton County, was approved in 1957. Now 98 counties (all but Allamakee) have programs.

1946-early 1950’s – Rapid growth in parks and interest in outdoor recreation. First biology sections created, opening professional game management, which lead to new and expanded hunting and fishing seasons.

1953 – First deer hunting season since 1898.

1968 – Ruffed grouse season opened in northeast Iowa, the first since 1923.

1972 – First state duck stamp.

1974 – First turkey hunting season since 1907 opened in the spring. Fall seasons opened in 1981.

A law call for liquidated damages went into effect, in which law violators may be charged for the loss of the game they took illegally. The state has recovered $362 million in damages through 1985.

1978 – First habitat stamp.

1983 – Hunter safety classes became mandatory.

Chickadee Checkoff started to allow Iowans to donate money to conservation via state income tax forms.

1984 – First state female game warden named.

1985 – Rewards offered for tips on poachers.

1986 – Park use fees became effective.

July 1, 1986 – Iowa Conservation Commission became a part of the DNR.

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Photo of hunting license - Iowa first required hunting license for residents in 1909. Cliff Dye of the Red Rush area of rural Center Point brought this license on Sept 9, 1909 for $1.00 from the Linn County Auditor. Dye was 18 at the time.

Anna Belle Weaver is Dye’ cousin, and after Dye died, she found the old license in his belongings.

The back side of the license carried a summary of the hunting laws. In part it reads:

    “You can hunt pinnate grouse or prairie chick between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1. Woodcock between July 1 and Jan. 1, ruffled grouse or pheasant (ruffled grouse were often called pheasants – this reference isn’t to ringed neck pheasants), wild turkey of quail between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, wild duck, goose or brant, rail, prover, sandpiper marsh or beach bird between Sept. 1 and April 15; gray or fox squirrel between Sept. 1 and Jan. 1.

    “You cannot shoot for traffic (sale) or shoot or kill more than 25 birds, game or animals in any one day or have in possession more than 25 of said birds game or animals except ducks of which you can have 50.

    “You cannot sell game, birds or animals dead or alive”.

    “You cannot take or kill ay Mongolian ringneck. English or Chinese pheasants until Oct. 1, 1015.

Additional information on the license:

    It was good from Date Issued until July 1, 1910
    Resident Hunting License
    I, ___________ Auditor of the County ____________
    Do hereby certify that (name) is a resident of (town) of (county), State of Iowa

    Having paid the license fee required by law vs licensed to hunt and kill wild animals, birds or game during the open season theretofore, in any county in the State, but not or any enclosed or cultivated, ?ands without permission of the owner or the tenant, or upon any public highway, subject to all the provisions penalties provided for by the Game Laws of said State. This license is not transferrable and must be in the possession of the licensee subject to inspection ---

    Physical Description
    Age ___ years       Height____      Weight ___ pounds
    Completion____      Color____       Color of eyes ____
    Dated at ____this ___ day of ___ 19___
    __________ Signature of County Auditor
    __________ Signature of Licensee
    __________ Signature of State Fish & Game Warden

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