Natural resources law enforcement is one responsibility of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which is the state government agency that protects and enhances Iowa’s natural resources. The department also has bureaus that oversee fisheries, wildlife, parks, forestry, and environmental protection.
The Law Enforcement Bureau has 91 conservation officers including one bureau chief, one training coordinator, six supervisors, six recreational safety officers, and 77 field officers. All are fully certified state peace officers with the authority to enforce all Iowa laws. As U.S. federal deputy game wardens, they also may cross state lines when violations of federal wildlife laws have been committed.
The primary responsibilities of conservation officers are to:
- Enforce laws related to hunting, trapping, fishing, navigation, commercial fishing, snowmobiling, and all-terrain vehicles.
- Investigate incidents involving outdoor recreation.
- Inspect game breeders, taxidermists, bait dealers, and other commercial users.
- Educate adults and children through hunter education, outdoor skills workshops and courses, and mentored outdoor experiences.
- Communicate with schools and community groups through public programs and with the media through TV, newspaper, and radio shows.
Conservation officers work closely with other law enforcement agencies in their assigned areas. In times of natural disasters and emergency situations, conservation officers are often called on to assist in relief efforts because of their unique training, experience, and equipment that allows them to get off the road and into areas where assistance is needed. Floods, tornadoes, drownings, missing persons, and fleeing suspects are a few situations where you will find conservation officers on the job. Iowa conservation officers proudly protect the natural resources of Iowa and the people enjoying them.