Shotgun Calibers and Land Acquisition Legislation up for Debate in Iowa

Contact: Kent Keene, Senior Coordinator, Lower Midwestern States and Agriculture Policy

  • Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined partners in weighing in on Iowa House File 2370 (HF 2370) and Senate Study Bill 3134 (now Senate File 2312, SF 2312).
  • HF 2370 seeks to authorize the use of .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using size-10 or larger shot during turkey seasons, while Senate Study Bill 3134 seeks to cap the price that county conservation boards and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources may pay when purchasing lands in the state.
  • CSF submitted a letter of support to the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus for HF 2370 highlighting the advances in shotshell technology and Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation (R3) benefits associated with this bill.
  • Alternatively, CSF submitted a letter of opposition to the Caucus for SSB 3134 (now SF 2312) pointing out the benefits of public lands and the potential consequences of this legislation.

Why it Matters: As legislation continues to move rapidly across the Lower Midwest and around the nation, two bills in Iowa have risen to the surface are receiving a lot of attention. Working with mission partners and members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has joined to ranks of sporting-conservationists in supporting a proposed expansion of shotgun calibers during turkey season) while opposing efforts designed to impair the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to purchase additional lands that would provide public access and opportunities for sportsmen and women.

Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted comment letters to members of the Iowa Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus regarding legislation currently moving in the state. These included a letter of support for House File 2370 (HF 2370 and formerly House Study Bill 609) and a letter of opposition to Senate Study Bill 3134 which has since been introduced outside of Committee as Senate File 2312(SF 2312).

HF 2370 seeks to permit .410-bore and 28-gauge shotguns using tungsten shot (sizes #10 or larger) during the state’s turkey season. Currently, only 20-gauge and larger shotguns may be used. However, thanks to advances in shotshell technology such as the development of tungsten shot, smaller and lighter-recoiling calibers can now be used to ethically and effectively harvest turkeys. At its core, HF 2370 opens the door for new hunters, particularly younger, smaller framed, or otherwise recoil-sensitive hunters, to enjoy the wonders of turkey hunting in Iowa.

SF 2312, seeks to cap the price that the Iowa DNR may pay when purchasing land. In the letter of opposition, CSF pointed out several of the issues associated with this language, including the challenges it creates as the DNR seeks to provide quality hunting and angling access for the Hawkeye State’s sportsmen and women. Proponents of this type of legislation claim to be acting on behalf of young farmers and ranchers who they believe are at a disadvantage when having to “compete” against the government to purchase land. However, this misrepresentation conflates other controversial land acquisition practices such as Eminent Domain with the willful sale of land. Here, land acquisitions are conducted with landowners who willingly chose to sell their land to the DNR, many of whom cherish the idea that their properties will be conserved for the benefit of their fellow Iowans. On the other hand, those who wish to sell their lands to beginning farmers and ranchers maintain the right to do just that, a concept that, when scrutinized, severely damages the logic on which legislation like SF 2312 is built.

Currently, HF 2370 (passed out of committee as HSB 609) awaits further action in the House of Representatives while SF 2312 (passed out of committee as SSB 3134) awaits further action in the Senate. For more information on the status of these bills, visit the Iowa Legislature’s website.

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Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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