# Hunting

DNR director offers a cautionary tale for Iowans who hunt, fish

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon has a message for Iowans after being cited on March 21 for fishing without a license in Jackson County.

Reached by email on March 25, Lyon confirmed a record in Iowa Courts Online referred to her citation, explaining,

I had my combination hunting and fishing license set to auto renew but my bank issued me a new card and I forgot to update the system. I was paddlefishing on the Mississippi last Friday [March 18]. When I was informed that I didn’t have a valid license, I asked our law enforcement chief to issue me a citation as soon as we could connect on Monday morning. It was an honest mistake but the laws apply to me just like anyone else. I have since gone online and renewed my combination license.

I’m told this situation is not uncommon. I would encourage anyone with an Iowa license to routinely check their accounts to ensure this doesn’t happen to them.

I would guess that most people who use credit cards have forgotten to update their information on some recurring charge after getting a new card. So this case presents a useful warning to Iowa’s “hook and bullet crowd”: next time you go fishing or hunting, check beforehand to make sure your licenses are up to date.

Lyon set a good example by acknowledging her mistake, knowing the citation would be listed in publicly available databases.

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Where are they now? Steven Leath edition

A contact recently asked what Steven Leath is up to lately. Longtime Bleeding Heartland readers will recall this site’s extensive coverage of the scandal regarding the Iowa State University president’s misuse of state-owned aircraft. Leath resigned as ISU president in March 2017 to accept a position as president of Auburn University in Alabama. However, that university’s trustees agreed in June 2019 to pay Leath $4.5 million to walk away from the job two years into a five-year contract. He is due to collect the last of three $1.5 million payments this July.

While Leath was still at Auburn, President Donald Trump appointed him to the National Science Board, a body that advises Congress and the presidential administration on matters related to science or engineering. His term will expire in May 2024. Leath walked then-candidate Trump across the field before the Iowa/Iowa State football game in September 2015, a controversial act he said was not meant as an endorsement. He has long been friendly with Donald Trump, Jr., with whom he sat during the Iowa State men’s basketball “Sweet Sixteen” game in Madison Square Garden in March 2014.

The younger Trump and Leath share an interest in hunting, which is the focus of the former university president’s newest position. The Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports announced in October that Leath would serve as the organization’s executive director, beginning January 1, 2021. How much he will earn in that job is not clear; available tax returns indicate the nonprofit has been paying a firm owned by the council’s CEO between $186,139 and $193,584 annually for “general management services.”

In late 2017, Leath sold the Hardin County land he had purchased the previous year, with the help of a company run by then Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter. He still has at least one formal connection to Iowa, though, as an advisory council member for the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines.

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2019 Iowa legislative recap: Constitutional amendments

Bleeding Heartland continues to catch up on the legislature’s significant actions during the session that ended on April 27. Previous posts related to the work of the Iowa House or Senate can be found here.

Republicans showed little interest in amending the Iowa Constitution during the 2019 session. Only one amendment passed both chambers. If and when that proposal appears on a statewide ballot, it will spark a costly and divisive campaign about gun rights and regulations.

The Senate and House debate over the pro-gun amendment is the focus of the first half of this post. Arguments raised on both sides will surely return in future television commercials and mass mailings.

The rest of the post reviews this year’s unsuccessful attempts to change the constitution. One amendment (backed by Governor Kim Reynolds) made it through the Iowa House, and four others advanced from a House or Senate committee but did not come up for a floor vote. The rest did not get through a committee, even though some of the same ideas went further last year.

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ISU president didn't follow university policy on transporting firearms

Since late September, Iowa State University President Steven Leath has repeatedly asserted that his use of ISU’s two airplanes was consistent with university policies.

Multiple audits and perhaps a criminal investigation will shed light on whether Leath violated ISU policy (and state law) on personal use of university property. Questionable flights include several unexplained trips to the city where the Mayo Clinic is located, stops at a New York airport to pick up and drop off Leath’s relatives, a trip to Kansas City after ISU had been eliminated from the Big 12 basketball tournament, and numerous visits to the town where Leath owns a home. On one of those trips, ISU’s plane was on the ground in North Carolina for only 37 minutes before returning to Ames.

Whatever conclusion investigators reach regarding Leath’s use of the airplanes, one fact is clear: the president has not complied with university policy on transporting weapons when using ISU’s Flight Service for various hunting trips.

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Weekend open thread, with Iowa nature links

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I have several posts in progress about the 2014 elections and looking ahead to next year’s legislative session and even the campaigns of 2016. But for today, I wanted to share some nature links.

Good news: Iowa’s pheasant numbers “have rebounded to a six-year high,” according to a roadside survey the Iowa Department of Natural Resources conducted in August.

Hunting season is in full swing. The non-profit Save our Avian Resources has compiled a good list of lead-free bullets and ammunition for hunters. Toxic bullet fragments left in gut piles are a major threat to predatory birds including eagles.

I learned via Radio Iowa that the Iowa DNR has added more content on its website about large mammals in Iowa, including black bears, gray wolf, mountain lion and even moose (rarely seen this far south). This page on the DNR’s website is a great resource for all kinds of information about animals indigenous to Iowa.

Bad news: for most of this fall, nitrogen levels in the Raccoon River have remained above the standard for drinking water. Along with the Des Moines river, the Raccoon River is a major source of drinking water for more than a half-million central Iowa residents.

Bleeding Heartland’s Iowa wildflower Wednesday series is on hiatus until the spring (you can view the archive here). Guest diaries featuring Iowa nature photography are welcome any time of the year.

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A Little Vietnam in Dallas County

(Terrifying comment on the lack of basic safety awareness among some Iowa gun enthusiasts. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

Yesterday I conducted a wetlands delineation for the Iowa DNR at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Area, along the South Raccoon between Adel and Redfield. Among the highlights: a good plant list that included a new sedge species, Carex oligocarpa; numerous butterflies, including Tiger and Black Swallowtails, American Lady, Spring Azure, Eastern Comma, and Red Admiral; experience with riparian soils; and overall a good day.

The most memorable part came in the last 15 minutes. Four 20-something year-olds noisily stopped about 450 feet away on the old canoe access road and began making sounds that could have been firecrackers. When the first clear rifle report came, I knew that this was no mere Independence Day warm-up. At least two bullets hit within 100 yards of me and a third whizzed overhead as I crouched behind a low dirt pile.

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