Iowa Politics and Conservation Meet

IUCN CEC Member and CEO of Pella Wildlife Company Ron DeArmond discuss funding for the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Act as well as funding for the Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program with state law makers at the capital of Iowa, USA.

CEC member Rod DeArmon holds black bear cub in Iowa, USA

The equation most wildlife professionals would like to use in wildlife management is science = wildlife management, however today the equation has changed to science + public opinion + politics = wildlife management. Politics and wildlife continue to find themselves in common conversations. Education of the general public, which includes politicians, continues to be a challenge as wildlife professionals look for ways to deal with wildlife management issues relevant to changing ecosystems and the attitudes of today’s general public and politicians.

At Conservation Day at the Iowa Capital, wildlife conservation organizations set up displays at the Iowa capital building in the hopes of interested politicians stopping by and getting information. Side conversations would often develop as politicians and their constituents with wildlife conservation interest would discuss topics of interest and concern. Pella Wildlife Company staff took a different approach. We were interested in talking directly to those on the committees that were creating the bills to be voted on to become law concerning wildlife conservation. We focused on two issues, the Iowa Water and Land Legacy Act (IWiLL) and the Resources Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Conservation Education Program. The IWiLL act was voted on state wide and passed in Iowa by over 60% of voters which proved that Iowans’ value their natural resources. The hitch is the funding was separate from the act so now we have a program that still needs the vote of politicians in order to provide funds that would benefit the biodiversity of our state. The REAP CEP is to provide funds for wildlife education programs. This program has never been fully funded which means some very good wildlife education opportunities never get implemented.

In speaking directly with politicians we found that “Politics”, not common sense, is still the rule. One party will ask for certain criteria fully aware that the other party will vote it down or modify it. We spoke to a few new members of the Iowa house and senate and they did not even know of the IWiLL act or how it would impact their constituents. We made sure that those we talked with were informed and had the information in hand so they could make a decision beyond the recommendation of the committee.

If what is said in “Love not Loss” is true about our childhood experiences, if what is stated in the IUCN Wolf Specialist Group Manifesto on Wolf Conservation that education is most essential to survival, then those of us in the CEC need to make priority one to educate, inspire and motivate our children in areas of biodiversity that leads to healthy ecosystems that ensure sustainability of all historically native species in our parts of the world. Keep in mind that those students are future constituents that will vote as adults and for some may become politicians that will vote yes or no for wildlife conservation.

Ron DeArmond

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