IOWA laws


BANS owning, possessing, breeding and importing dangerous wild animals

  • GRANDFATHERED: animals registered by 12/31/07 and microchipped by 9/1/07 that meet the requirements listed
    • 18+
    • NO 1) animal abuse or neglect conviction, 2) suspension of application for permit or license or permit revocation for animal commercial establishment by department, another state or federal government, 3) felony in last 10 years, or 4) controlled substance felony or misdemeanor conviction in last 10 years
    • Maintain health and ownership records
    • Confine in primary enclosure except for vet care, compliance with department or animal warden, or to transfer ownership to wildlife sanctuary
    • Sign on property
    • Immediately notify animal warden or law enforcement of escape
    • Maintain $100,000 liability insurance with no more than $250 deductible per occurrence
    • Notify department and transfer animal to wildlife sanctuary or euthanize it if no longer able to care for it
    • AZA institutions
    • wildlife sanctuaries
    • falconry license
    • agricultural animals
    • assistive animals
    • harvest by hunter or trapper
    • wildlife rehabilitators
    • circuses temporarily in state
    • cities
    • nonprofit 501(c)3 registered in 2007 for exhibition at a municipal zoo
    • state fair
    • research facility
    • vets other than wild boars
    • pound
    • animal shelter
    • county conservation board
    • department employee, animal warden, animal care provider, law enforcement
    • animal transported through the state within 96 hours
    • public agency
    • those registered with department of agriculture and land stewardship

BANS intentionally causing escape of dangerous wild animal.


  • Canines (except wolf dogs)
  • Felines (except Bengals/Savannahs F4 or later)
  • Bears
  • Hyenas
  • Aardwolves
  • Rhinoceros
  • Elephants
  • Nonhuman primates
  • Herp: Crocodilians, water and crocodile monitors, beaded lizard, Gila monster, reticulated python, anaconda, African rock python, and venomous Atractaspidae, Elapidae, Crotalidae, Viperidae, Hydrophidae
  • Wild boars
  • Hybrids

(XVI Iowa Code 717F; 21 Iowa Admin Code 77)



Excludes selling and shipping parrots, canaries and other caged birds not native to the US from the wildlife conservation law.

(XI Iowa Code 481A.20)



         Bait: includes frogs, crayfish and salamanders

         Fur-bearing animals: beaver, badger, mink, otter, muskrat, raccoon, skunk, opossum, civet, weasel, coyote, bobcat, wolf, groundhog and red and gray fox (excludes domesticated fur-bearing)

         Game: Anatidae, Rallidae, Limicole, Gallinae, mourning dove, rock dove, Sciuridae, cottontail rabbit, jackrabbit, elk, cervidae except farm deer (excludes those not protected)

         Minnows: chubs, suckers, shiners, dace, stonerollers, mud minnows, redhorse, blunt-nose, and fathead minnows

          Wild animal: wild mammal, bird, fish, amphibian, reptile, or other wildlife found in this state

          Wild mammal: class Mammalia


BANS transporting fish, game, animals or birds for sale except as otherwise allowed.

BANS shipping, carrying or transporting game, fish, birds, or animals in excess of possession limit in any one day. 

  • EXEMPT: fur-bearing animals



BANS the take, pursuit, killing, trapping or ensnaring, buying, sale, possession, and transport, or attempt to of game, protected nongame animals, fur-bearing animals, mussels, frogs, spawn or fish unless allowed. 

BANS buying or selling protected birds or animals unless otherwise allowed. 

  • EXEMPT: fur-bearing animals, wild turkey bones and parts of taken game; game, fur-bearing species and fish sold by nonprofit for meals; jackrabbits purchased out of state


  • Protected Nongame: wild fish, birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, nests and parts
    • EXCLUDES: game, fish under fishing laws, fur-bearing animals, turtles and frogs, nuisance species and bats inside buildings 

  • Unprotected Nongame:
    • European starling
    • House sparrow
    • Garter snake
    • Timber rattlesnake
      • EXCLUDES: Allamakee, Appanoose, Clayton, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Jackson, Jones, Lee, Madison, Van Buren, and Winneshiek Counties
      • INCLUDES: 50 yards around occupied houses in those counties


  • Field Trial Permit (sanctioned field or retriever meets or trials) - $2 per trial

  • Import Permit (import for propagation or introducing in state waters non-native fish or stocking birds or animals)
    • EXEMPT: game breeders importing native or exotic birds or animal when used as breeding stock
    • Must be inspected by commission

  • Game Breeders License (raise or sell game or fur-bearing animals)
    • EXEMPT:
      • rock doves and pigeons
      • governmental zoos and exhibits

  • Scientific Collector’s License (collect birds, wildlife, nests, eggs for scientific purposes) – 3 years
    • Issued to: university, college or person engaged in scientific project
    • Species, numbers, geographic location, and collection methods on permit

  • Wildlife Salvage Permit (possess dead birds, animals, nests or eggs provided by department for natural resource education programs) – 3 years
    • Issued to: university, college, school, county conservation board, public agency, other organization or person engaged in natural resource education program

  • Educational Project Permit (collect, keep, possess protected non-threatened and non-endangered species for educational or zoological displays) – 3 years
    • Apprentice educational project permit (state and federally protected raptors) – 2 years
    • General educational project permit for protected animal species other than raptors
    • General educational project permit for raptors

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation (possess injured/orphaned wildlife for rehabilitation)
    • Apprentice – 2 years
    • General – 3 years
    • Master – 3 years

  • Fur Dealer License (buy, barter, trade, or obtain raw hides or skins of fur-bearing animals)

  • Falconry License (take, transport, possess raptors and use in hunting) - $61.50 – 3 years

(XI Iowa Code 481A; 571 Iowa Admin. Code 76)



Take of fish, frogs, and turtles must be during open season.  Must follow daily catch limit and possession limits along with weights and lengths. 

BANS export of taken frogs.  Allows those bought, sold or possessed if imported. 

BANS take of turtles and crayfish by nonresidents except Missouri and Mississippi rivers and Big Sioux River.

PERMIT required for commercial take, possession, transport and sale of turtles or eggs.

  • EXEMPT: purchase from commercial fisher or commercial turtle harvester for personal consumption


  • Frogs: Need fishing license to take
    • Daily Take: 48 frogs
    • Possession (Bait Dealers): 20 dozen frogs
    • Methods: BANS nets, barriers, fences
    • Area: Allows catching on own property for personal use
    • Take Purposes Allowed: bait or food

  • Turtles: Need fishing license to take
    • Daily Take (Commercial and Recreational): 4 common snapping turtles, 1 smooth or spiny softshell turtle, and 1 painted turtle
    • Commercial Possession: 20 common snapping turtles, 5 combined spiny and smooth softshell turtles, and 5 painted turtles
    • Noncommercial Possession: 100 pounds except snapping turtles taken with fishing license
    • Closed Seasons:
      • spiny softshell, smooth softshell, and painted turtles - Jul 16 to May 14
      • Eggs from wild - Year-round
      • Unlisted Species - Year-round
      • Take using gear set prior to midnight Jul 15
    • Open Seasons:
      • Common snapping turtles
        • Commercial – Jul 16 to May 14
        • Recreational – Year-round
    • Methods: hand, turtle hook, turtle trap (must meet requirements), commercial fishing gear in Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, hook-and-line
    • BANS sale, barter and trade of turtles taken under fishing license

  • Mussels:
    • Season: Year-round – sunrise to sunset
    • Species: all except threatened and endangered and zebra mussels
    • Area: Mississippi River and backwaters
    • Possession: 24
    • Take Legal for: commercial fishers, sports anglers, and children under 16
    • Methods: hand, pole and line, diving, crowfoot bar up to 20” long
    • BANS sale, barter and trade of mussels taken under fishing license and sale of native


  • Commercial Turtle Harvester License (operate commercial gear and take, possess, transport, sale, barter, trade commercial turtles or eggs)
    • Nonresidents must harvest from boundary waters

  • Commercial Turtle Helper License (assist harvester with commercial gear or take, possess or transport)
    • EXEMPT: those under 16
    • BANS buy, sale, barter, trade of commercial turtles

  • Commercial Turtle Buyer License (buy, barter and trade commercial turtles or eggs)

  • Commercial Fisher License (operate commercial gear and take, possess, sell, barter, trade turtles taken with it)

  • Boundary Waters Sports Trotline (use 4 trotlines with 200 hooks on boundary waters for noncommercial harvest)
    • BANS sale, barter or trade of fish or turtles taken

(XI Iowa Code 481A.67, 481A.84, 481A.121, 482A.11, 483A.28; 571 Iowa Admin. Code 86-87)



PERMIT (Aquaculture Unit License) required to rear or maintain aquatic species (fish, frogs, turtles) for food, bait or stocking in state waters or owning pond where guests fish for free or take without regard to fishing restrictions. 

  • EXEMPT: tropical fish species or ornamental aquatic animals for pets or hobby

PERMIT (Importation Permit) required to receive, propagate, sell aquaculture species.

PERMIT (Fish Importation Permit) required to import salmonid family, ictalurid family and hybrids.

  • Needs disease-free certification issued by certified pathologist for salmonids for diseases listed

PERMIT (Bait Dealer’s License) required to sell minnows, frogs, crayfish, or salamanders for fish bait and commercial take of minnows. 

  • EXEMPT: taking minnows for personal use

(Iowa Code 481A.141 et. al.; 571 Iowa Admin. Code 89)


BANS take, possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, purchase, or receipt by common or contract carrier of state endangered and threatened species, US and foreign endangered and threatened species, and those similar in appearance.

  • EXCLUDES: insect pests
    • Imported ones
    • zoological purposes for propagation for survival
    • take for property damage or protect human life under permit
    • Lawful hunting trophies from outside the state if not sold
    • Imported furs or skins lawfully taken or purchased outside the state if tagged or marked with origin state, country, territory
    • Scientific collecting permit
    • Educational project permit
    • Imported plants
    •  Parts or products from outside state with permit from origin agency or US permit if applicable
    • Receipt of purchase and permit from state of origin or US government
    • Drainage district repairs to existing open ditch facilities from Topeka shiner protection efforts
    • Landowner agreements for habitat improvements

LIST: See detailed list

Law: XI Iowa Code 481B; 571 Iowa Admin. Code 76


BANS possession, introduction, import, purchase, sale, barter, propagation, and transport of aquatic invasive species

    • written permission
    • disposal from harvest or control activity
    • transport to department in sealed container for identification or reporting
    • dead ones
    • removed from watercraft and equipment or release by angler
    • catch and immediate kill by angler

LIST (1/1/05): Includes hybrids and varieties


  • Bighead carp
  • Black carp
  • Silver carp
  • round goby
  • rudd
  • ruffe
  • white perch


  • Fishhook waterflea
  • Spiny waterflea
  • New Zealand mudsnail
  • Quagga mussel
  • Zebra mussel
  • Rusty crayfish

(571 Iowa Admin. Code 90)


Pet shop – establishment where a dog, cat, rabbit, rodent, nonhuman primate, fish other than live bait, bird, or other vertebrates are bought, sold or exchanged

Pet shops require a license and meeting listed requirements. 

(X Iowa Code 162)



BANS import of prairie dogs, tree squirrels (Heliosciurus), rope squirrels, dormice, Gambian giant pouched rats, brush-tailed porcupines and striped mice.

PERMIT (Pre-Entry Permit) required for Cervidae, domestic fowl (pet birds) and poultry (chicken, turkey, domestic waterfowl, ratites, and domestic game bird except dove and pigeon) from AI- or VND-affected area, wild swine, and cattle and bison not TB free or brucellosis free.

  • All animals require a certificate of veterinary inspection. 
  • Wild-type swine must test negative for rabies and brucellosis within 30 days of import

(21 Iowa Admin. Code 65)