Normally when I hear about a "protected animal" I believe the animal is probably endangered and that's the reason it's receiving legal protection. That's not always the case but it's normally where my thoughts tend to go.

It turns out that in the state of Iowa, there are plenty of animals under legal protection because of the roles they play in Iowa's ecosystem. If you ever run into one of these animals, leave them alone. They might be helping you and your surrounding environment. According to the Iowa DNR, these 6 animals have legal protection in Iowa, and here's why.

Animals You Might Not Know Are Protected In Iowa


Unsplash - The New York Public Library
Unsplash - The New York Public Library

Any snake in Iowa is most definitely safe from me...Snakes are one of my biggest fears and my immediate reaction if I run into one is to sprint as fast as I can in the other direction. Iowa has close to 30 species of snakes and they help keep rodent and small mammal populations in order.

Smaller snakes in Iowa normally eat worms, slugs, and insects and the larger snakes eat small mammals, such as mice and squirrels. Only garter snakes can be legally caught, collected, or killed in all Iowa counties.

Crawfish Frog (Crayfish Frog)

Catching frogs and using them as bait is a pretty common thing in Iowa. Sometimes kids like to catch them just because it's a fun thing to do. If you're out looking for frogs, be careful you aren't catching craw (or cray) fish frogs, as they cannot be collected or killed.

These frogs are on the endangered list in Iowa and haven't been seen in years. Our neighboring states do have populations of crawfish frogs and can be primarily found near bodies of water.


Unsplash - Jonathan Kemper
Unsplash - Jonathan Kemper

I would guess this one might be a little bit more obvious for Iowans as Hawks can be a bit of a nuisance and I can understand why some people might not want them around. Hawks normally eat smaller birds, snakes, reptiles, mice, and fish. They help keep wildlife populations in check. Hawks are protected under Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and can not be caught, killed, or kept without a special permit.

If you aren't a fan of Hawks circling your chicken coup, you can use scare tactics, such as increased human activity, loud noises, and/or scarecrows if you'd like to keep Hawks away from a certain area.

White Deer

You've likely seen tons of White-tailed deer throughout the state of Iowa. Heck, if you drove down 380 today, you'll probably see a few dead ones on the side of the road. Did you know that in Iowa, any deer that has coloring, that is more than 50% white, cannot legally be taken?

In 1987, the Iowa Legislature created protection for white deer when there was an uproar over a white deer being killed in the state of Iowa. What's interesting about white deer protection laws is removing white deer from the gene pool would not be a benefit...just like protecting them is not a benefit. These deer don't do any harm or any good to the gene pool at all. There just haven't been any changes to this law created in 1987. This will only change through the action of the state legislature.


Unsplash - Tommy Bond
Unsplash - Tommy Bond

Have you ever heard of a mudpuppy? I haven't it. It sounds like something you'd call someone you're trying to insult. Mudpuppies are the largest salamanders in Iowa. They live in large streams or ponds and are the only aquatic salamanders in the state of Iowa.

Mudpuppies were formerly listed as endangered but are now considered threatened in Iowa. They can be accidentally caught by people who are fishing but they need to be released as they can not be collected or killed. Fishermen/women can identify mudpuppies by their long and feathery gills on the sides of their heads as well as their long, flattened, paddle-like bodies.



This one also might be a bit obvious but all birds are protected in Iowa, except for game birds while in season. It is illegal to collect bird feathers, nests, or eggs. You can't kill, collect, or keep any bird without a special permit. I'm not a big fan of birds either so they're pretty safe from me.

All of these animals and facts are from the official Iowa DNR website, which you can check out to learn more about these 6 animals that are protected in Iowa. Let me know if you knew all 6 of these in the comments or let me know which ones you did not know about!

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