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Iowa has changed greatly since becoming a state in 1846. The prairies that helped develop the highly productive soils have been reduced by more than 99 percent. About 95 percent of the state’s prairie pothole wetlands have been drained and nearly 75 percent of the original forests and savannas are gone. These changes and other factors such as the channelization of rivers and streams, chemical pollution, soil erosion and overgrazing have contributed to the loss or degradation of suitable habitat for numerous plant and animal species.

This presentation provides information about the federally listed endangered and threatened plants and animals known to presently occur in Iowa. Conserving these species requires a coordinated effort by public agencies, private organizations and landowners.

Bald Eagle

Photographer: Shauna Humrich

Who To Contact:

Pesticide Bureau
Consumer Protection & Industry Division
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa   50319

Conservation and Recreation Division
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa  50319


The following individuals contributed to this publication:

Jim Ellerhoff,
Iowa Department of Agriculture
and Land Stewardship

Shauna Humrich,
Iowa Department of Agriculture
and Land Stewardship

Daryl Howell,
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

John Pearson,
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Mark Leoschke,
Iowa Department of Natural Resources

Craig Thomson,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Joe Bannon,
MidAmerican Energy Company

A number of these species, notably those listed here, have declined to the point that they are threatened or endangered with extinction. It is very important that we maintain the existing habitat remnants for these plant and animal species if they are to remain a part of Iowa’s flora and fauna for future generations.

A question often asked is, “Why should we be concerned about these plants and animals?” Each plant and animal species is unique because it may represent solutions to biological problems. Some of these solutions may be of use to us today or in the future. Examples of the importance of plants to us include numerous medicines and genetic resources of food and fiber plants. The genetic diversity of these plants provides plant breeders with the means to help crops cope with disease, insects and drought.

Individual species of plants and animals also contribute to the maintenance of other species within a community. Thus, the loss of what appears to be an unimportant species may result in the loss of one or more species, which are very important to us. By allowing species to become extinct, we are making decisions that cannot be reversed.

The Endangered Species Act, passed in 1973 by the U.S. Congress, provides for the protection of plants and animals that are endangered or threatened with extinction. Federal agencies are required to ensure that any actions they authorize, such as the registration of pesticides by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), do not harm endangered or threatened species or their habitat.

The U.S. EPA is responsible for ensuring that the necessary steps be taken to eliminate or minimize any threats to endangered or threatened species by the use of pesticides.

The Endangered Species Protection Program of the U.S. EPA in Iowa is a cooperative federal and state agency project. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service are working with the U.S. EPA to coordinate a state-initiated plan for several plant species and to provide information about endangered and threatened species. This program has been designed to protect these species from pesticide contamination and at the same time reduce undue restrictions for landowners.

While this presentation covers only federally listed plant and animal species, there is also a state list of endangered species. All federally listed species are included in the state endangered species list. The state list also includes plants and animals which have declined in Iowa but may be doing well in other states. Although only a few of the state-listed species are included here, the system developed to protect the federally listed species will also benefit a number of state-listed species.

Funding Provided by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Mailing Address: IDALS,  Wallace State Office Building,   502 E. 9th Street,  Des Moines, IA 50319:    PH: 515-281-5321
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