Assistant Professor - Natural Resource and Ecology Management
Iowa State University
Did you know that Iowa’s smallest mammal weighs less than a tablespoon of butter? Or that 9 species of bats call Iowa’s forest home during the summer? Or that river otters have been documented in every county in Iowa? These facts, and many more, are the subject of a new, freely available book from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach titled, “Mammals of Iowa.”
The guide, which was written and developed by wildlife biologists from Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, shares a wealth of information about each of 57 wild mammals routinely found in Iowa, including their habits and habitats in the state as well as the status of their populations. Supplemental information bookending the detailed species accounts features information about the relative sizes of the mammals of Iowa, the history of wild mammals in the state, and occasional visitors or especially rare species found in the state.
Each species account features a full color photo along with life-sized images of front and hind tracks that can be compared with tracks found in dirt or snow. A county map of Iowa is also included for each mammal, showing the likelihood of finding each species in each county of the state, using the most up-to-date and trust-worthy data from wildlife biologists and citizen scientists.
In telling the story of wild mammals in Iowa, the book also recounts the story of conservation in Iowa, describing the ecological restoration of many natural habitats and improved land stewardship that has played out over the last century and helped restore many species lost in the state’s earliest years. In doing so, it champions past successes, lead by Iowan’s that value wild places and wild things, and also identifies challenges on the horizon for rare or declining species like bats, spotted skunks, and white-tailed jackrabbits, among others.
Acreage owners should find the resource useful for identifying unfamiliar species or learning more about the other mammals that share their farms, timber stands, and prairies.
The PDF version of the book is available today for free download and printed copies will be sold at cost through the Iowa State University Extension Online Store starting in May of 2018 thanks to support for the development of the guide from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources REAP Conservation Education Program and Wildlife Diversity Program.