EP 803 | Iowa Outdoors

Hi, I’m Kellie Kramer. And I’m Scott Siepker. Welcome to Engeldinger
Marsh here in Central Iowa. And our latest edition
of Iowa Outdoors. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Coming up on this episode of Iowa Outdoors — We capture and tag a young Decorah eaglet. Stroll through Iowa’s
rich ecological heritage. Take to the skies of
the Mississippi River. Ride along with DNR
law enforcement. And explore another
Trail in a Minute. We’ll have all
that and more. So sit tight, Iowa
Outdoors is about to begin. Funding for Iowa Outdoors
is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and Williams Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov. Like passion for the
outdoors, conservation is an endeavor
that never ends. Today’s endeavor will see
us wandering through a small patch of original
Iowa landscape, as well as riding along with the Iowa
DNR as they police all of Iowa’s natural gifts. But first, we return to
Decorah with an exciting update on the town’s
most famous inhabitants. For more than a decade,
the eagles of Decorah, Iowa have fascinated onlookers
inside our state and around the world. But, research on these
raptors goes far beyond a 24/7 webcam. A dedicated band of
conservationists and wildlife specialists have
been banding and placing wireless transmitters
on juvenile eaglets for years, and they’re
not done yet. Iowa Outdoors spent
another sunrise with the eagle capturing experts. ♪♪ ♪♪ With a
full mon overhead, a dedicated team of wildlife
experts is putting the final touches on
a predawn trap. The intended target,
one of the world famous Decorah eaglets. ♪♪ You got it kind of
nestled in where you want it? We’re going to have to
move it to put fish in. Ryan Schmitz: Brian from
the Fish Hatchery has done an amazing job
baiting the eagles. It took a little while
this year but finally they were more independent and
relied on themselves to find food and they started
coming down to the area where we set our padam
trap, which is just a new style trap where they get
their feet tangled up in. Just trying to get them
upright, making sure there’s no kind of gaps in
here so no matter where they walk across the padam
they’ll catch something, a toe. Schmitz: So we had a fish
that was loose, kind of up more visible for the eagle
to see, at least get their attention, get them down
to our area where we had the trap. Yeah, we don’t want them
to fly off with it. Brett Mandernack: Normally
we can come out within a week, two weeks, we can
get birds conditioned to come down, to bait at that
mulch pile that we’ve been very successful
at over the years. For whatever reason this
year, these birds didn’t want to get
their own food. It just seemed like they
would see the food there, be curious about it, start
food begging and then expect the mom or dad
eagle to go grab the fish and go back to the nest
and feed them there. After months of
pre-baiting a trio of juvenile eaglets, the
Decorah team is in place for sunrise at the Fish
Hatchery and hopefully a hungry bird. Mandernack: A lot of times
they’ll come in and circle over it, check out the
situation, see if there are fish there in fact,
which I’m sure they knew from a distance. (birds cawing) (nature sounds) Mandernack: This happens all the time too
where the bird goes in, grabs the fish, rarely do
they eat it right there early on. They’ll want to hop back
up onto the mulch pile with that fish. So they’re trying
to drag it. Well it’s not coming. It had a good foothold on
the fish, it was moving the whole trap, but I did
not see a noose anywhere on that bird’s foot. No, no, no, no, no. Just wait. Mandernack: So you can’t
blow the opportunity. You have to make
absolutely sure you’ve got at least one noose around
a toe, a foot, or whatever before you go dashing
across it because if that bird is not caught it
takes off, it’s now trap wise, you’ll have a very
difficult time catching it again. She might be tangled. I see a noose that seems
to be following her right tarsal sprout. I’m going to wait until
she struggles a bit. I think she’s — go, go, go, go, go. 6.5. Mandernack: As I’m heading
toward the bird it just came over me like,
yeah, finally! Undoubtedly the female
just judging by the quick evaluation of the
feet and tarsal size. It’s always a thrill,
every single time. After another successful
capture, Brett Mandernack and his team begin work
on the next phase, safely attaching a transmitter
to a very powerful bird. 641. 15.3. She’s a female but she’s
not particularly a large one, compared to other females,
kind of middle of the road. Careful not to have any
folds in the Teflon ribbon. Along with his wife, Brett
has mastered the delicate art of correctly sizing
Teflon ribbon and a harness around eaglets
still maturing into adulthood. Carol Mandernack: It was
a process that we just developed over time and
with the stitching and the type of thread and the
fabric of the ribbon and all of these things
were just step-by-step. We learned how to do it
better and better and over time you get to get a
feeling for how tight or how loose you need to have
that transmitter and the ribbons. The stitching is just, I
learned how to do that in 4-H. (laughs) The transmitter
apparatus must be tight enough to not fall off in
mid-flight but not too restrictive that it could
reduce the eagle’s flying ability. It’s a delicate balance
with knowledge gleaned from decades of working
hands on with the American bald eagle. Now you’re going to put a
little dot of super glue on the end of it, mostly
just to keep the Teflon ribbon from unraveling and
also to dab a little bit of glue on the — make
sure they stay intact forever and ever because
this bird will likely have this transmitter on
for many, many years. It is probably going to be
with it a good part of its life because Teflon ribbon
is very durable but there’s no way to make a
fall-off harness after X number of years, it just
is not, you can’t do it. With the harness in place
and the solar battery transmitter functioning,
the eagle dubbed D27 is ready for release back
onto the Decorah Fish Hatchery grounds. ♪♪ Mandernack: It
comes down to serve a fundamental question of,
if you don’t know what your species is doing,
where it’s traveling to and from and when, under
what conditions, you have to know the species in
order to be a good steward of that species, know how
to manage for it in the future and the present. The only way we can really
learn these birds’ travel behaviors is to put
satellite transmitters on them. We could band them and
release them, you get one point when you band it,
you get one point when it’s recovered after it,
usually when it’s dead. That doesn’t add up to
a whole lot of data. Over the following nine
months, Brett tracked D27 throughout its travels
from summer to fall and over the winter. His data shows D27 stayed
along the eastern third of Iowa as it dipped south
and back north over multiple months. ♪♪ Mandernack: Here
we get data on each bird every day, we can learn
some of the details, the minutia of migration
behavior with satellite transmitters that you
cannot get other ways and multiple years is
very important too. John Howe: There has been
close to 30 eagles coming out of this nest here with
these two Decorah eagles, mom and dad, and a lot
of them are out there. We only know what has
happened to a few of them based on the tracking
studies that we’ve done. So it’s valuable for
the fans and it’s good research for
Brett and crew. ♪♪ Visiting one of
Iowa’s state parks is one way to guarantee
outdoor adventure. But for something more,
look to our state preserves. While the parks are DNR
attended, camping ready, outdoor recreation zones,
Iowa’s preserves are wild, ecologically
diverse classrooms. While just as exciting,
preserves are all about teaching visitors about
the history and importance of Iowa’s varied
environments. At Doolittle Prairie in
Story City, conservation enthusiasts have been
teaching these lessons for decades with public hikes
focused on what Iowa looked like long before
settlers ever set across the Mississippi. ♪♪ ♪♪ Erica Place: This is an evening prairie walk and as the
outreach coordinator I’m responsible for promoting
our events and this is one that I do not have to
try to promote at all. The people who come to
this event are people who enjoy the prairie, they’re
celebrating the prairie, they want to learn about
the prairie and what is great about this event is
Lloyd leads four hikes throughout the growing
season, so May, June, July, August. You can come to each
of those events and experience something
completely different because plants are
blooming at different times all
throughout the year. Lloyd Crim: I’ve been
doing it for 26 years and I started back in
about 1990, ’91 or so. (indistinguishable
chatter) Crim: I don’t do a song and dance. Some people are maybe
looking for that but if they want to talk about
the soils, if they want to talk about the wildlife,
they what to talk about the insects, they want to
talk about anything I can handle a variety
like that. But it seems like
everybody, what is this plant? What is that plant? Over his nearly three
decades leading Story County’s Doolittle Prairie
Walk, Lloyd Crim has gotten to know Iowa
prairie extremely well. It seems almost
fitting that while his understanding is so
diverse, the prairie’s millennia old plant life
is what draws the most attention. Crim: I’ve tried other
parts of programs and done a really good one on
soils, I had a guy at Iowa State that did an
excellent job on the soils one but ended up everybody
was going, what’s this plant? What’s that plant? So it comes back down to
identifying the plants. Known as a pothole remnant
prairie, Doolittle’s 24 acres are a prime example
of the depressional wetland marshes and
landscapes that were found all across the northern
plain states when the glaciers from the last
Ice Age melted away. Many of these potholes
turned into lakes and ponds popular with
migrating birds. Others, like Doolittle,
offer a permanent time capsule of a traditional
Iowa landscape. Crim: It’s more closely
related to what Iowa probably looked like
right after the glaciers receded. It’s the pothole to walk
through the soil, the ground hasn’t been turned,
it’s kind of like it was and the vegetation
is fairly close. But it’s kind of like this
is what Iowa looked like. Place: It’s extremely
diverse and since it is remnant prairie it’s one
of the best spots that Story County
Conservation manages. If you listen you can hear
insects, there are snakes, there are mammals, there
are lots of birds that depend on this habitat. There are I don’t know how
many dozens of prairie species so it’s just
really a special place. Spanning the entire
growing season, each of Story County’s monthly
hikes offer a different look at the distinct
flora and fauna that call Doolittle home as well as
the natural life cycle Iowa’s indigenous
wildlife enjoys. Crim: The flowering kind of
varies a little bit, some things bloom a little
earlier, some things bloom a little later. It changes constantly but
it’s the same, it’s the same plants. Early in the spring
before vegetation gets up sometimes or else after a
burn we’ll see the mounds from the crayfish. The crayfish are pretty
important out here because they’re bringing soil up
and they’re making holes because where do garter
snakes spend the winter, probably in a
crayfish hole. None of Iowa’s prairies
and preserves see the visitor traffic of
the state parks. And given their small
footprint and delicate ecosystem that is fine
with local conservation officers. Still as the years have
passed, the Doolittle hikes have gained
in popularity. Place: We’re surprised how
many people travel to come to these, they’re not all local
citizens of Story County. But lots of families, lots
of retired folks, lots of college students or high
school students sometimes. Crim: A couple of years
ago I’d be getting around 10, 15, 20 people and
now it’s 20, 25, 30. Last time we were here we
had 42 people, which was a record for several years. Maybe the best part
of Lloyd’s tenure as Doolittle hike leader is
the fact he has provided all his knowledge and
time as a volunteer. Across the state,
conservation boards hold volunteers as one of their
most crucial resources. Place: We rely really
heavily on volunteers. They are integral to our
mission, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we
do without partnerships. Last fiscal year we had
over 5,000 hours donated by volunteers, which for
us is the equivalent of two and a half
full-time staff. So they get a lot done. And in Lloyd’s case he
is bringing something extremely special to the
table, he is able to educate people about this
wonderful prairie that we’re standing in, help
foster an appreciation and understanding of it. So we’re extremely lucky
to have volunteers like that give their time. Crim: You think you know
the plants pretty well until you lead a walk like
this and then you realize oh, I guess I didn’t know
them very well at all. And so I pick up
stuff as I go along. So I enjoy it. Humility aside, it’s
events like Lloyd’s Doolittle Prairie Walk
that spurs conservation. Place: I hope that they
see this habitat and they understand its importance. They can hear all the life
that is going on in a spot and they want to get
involved and take action on their own. (indistinguishable
chatter) Driving along the great river road, there
are certain views that demand travelers stop and
take in the majesty of the Mississippi. While astonishing, sites
like the Bellevue State Park Overlook only offer a
single vista of the river. One possibility to vary
the view is to take a look at Iowa by air. ♪♪ ♪♪ The
most common view of the Mississippi River is
through a car window, a shame when you consider
everything you’re missing. ♪♪ Bellevue State
Park offers one of the few overlooks that replicates
an aerial experience of the Mississippi
River Valley. But not even that
perspective showcases the full breadth of the
Mississippi like that of a bird’s eye view. ♪♪ Scattered up and
down the Mississippi’s great river road, few high
bluffs are as inviting or picturesque as Bellevue’s. And if you aren’t able to
see Iowa by air, views like this offer the
next best thing. ♪♪ We all want to
safely enjoy Iowa’s natural resources and have
those important treasures protected for
future generations. Those are just a couple of
jobs of the Iowa DNR’s Law Enforcement Bureau. The highly trained
conservation officers are out here every day,
educating the public and enforcing state and
federal laws, helping to enhance the Iowa outdoors. ♪♪ Hi kiddos. Hello. How are you? Good, how are you? Going boating? Awesome, it’s a
beautiful day isn’t it? Yeah, it is. Conservation officers with
the Iowa Department of Natural Resources are sworn
peace officers with the same powers of any city
police, county sheriff’s deputies or
state troopers. But these law enforcement
officers have a lot of additional training
and responsibilities. They enforce all hunting,
trapping, ATV and snowmobile laws, they lead
hunter education classes and during the summer they
spend much of their time here, on the water,
focusing on navigation laws. Just wanted to chat with
you a little bit about him not having his life
jacket on earlier. How old is he? Eight. He’s eight. Okay. Do you know the law about
kids under 13, if we’re underway we’ve
got to have it on. Yeah, it was wet, he took
it back off and dried off and put it back on. Okay. When the boat is under
power we’ve got to have that life jacket on
him at all times. Just wanted to educate. I saw that he had it on
when we came by to get you. If the vessel is parked at
the beach or something you don’t have to have it on. It sometimes gets
hot, I know, right. But for safety reasons
we’ve got to have it on okay? Dustin Eighmy: We want to
be visible, we want to be seen and the reason behind
that is deterrence. The biggest fear is
arrest on some people. If they’re out there and
they’re drinking too much and they see us and they
just in the back of their head going, I should slow
down or I should get a sober driver,
that’s what I want. I want them to be able to
know that we’re out here, we’re going to enforce the
laws, we’re serious about the boating while
intoxicated. We want you to have fun
out here but we want you to do it safely. Safety is key
for everyone. When a police officer
encounters someone with a weapon, tensions
can rise quickly. Conservation officers
deal with those tricky situations on a
regular basis. Eighmy: We’re pretty much
alone out there in that field and sometimes we
can be alone on the boat, sometimes we’re alone
during hunting seasons checking hunters and
pretty much everyone that we encounter has a gun
or a knife on them, even fishing. I had to come see
what you’re catching. White bass? Can I check your
license real quick? Do you have it on you? I was afraid you
were going to ask. It’s up at the — It’s
all right, I’ll look you up. Oh you can do that? You’re good to go, buddy. Just make sure you have
it on you next time. It’s not a big deal. You guys are good to go. I’m glad they’re
biting for you. When fully staffed the
DNR has 90 conservation officers. In rural Iowa, each
officer typically covers one or two counties. In metro counties or busy
recreation areas there may be two officers. Eighmy: Most days is we’re
driving around in the countryside looking for
hunters, anglers and making sure people are
being in compliance with our laws of the state of
Iowa, making sure they have their hunting
licenses, fishing licenses and also education
is a huge part of it. If we see a youngster out
there with dad fishing we want to stop and spend
some time talking tt that youngster. Officers often visit
schools or do other presentations in
the community. Having an educated public
can help officers enhance, promote and protect the
state’s natural resources. Most people are
glad they’re there. They thank us for our job,
thank you for being out there, my family is out
here enjoying the day and I feel safer with
you being out here. So we get a good positive
feedback from the public out here. While patrolling
Saylorville Lake on this particular day, Officer
Eighmy spotted an injured pelican someone had called
and reported earlier. We dropped him off near
the shore so he could carefully capture the bird
and figure out what might be wrong. Eighmy: Do you see the
fish bone in the neck poking out there? She’s going to go up to
Ames from here to the wildlife care clinic and
they’ll take care of her from there and hopefully
get that bone out of her neck and then get her
rehabilitated where they can release her back into
the wild here soon and hopefully get some food in
here because I think that fish bone was causing her
not to eat and she’s just too weak and she might
have a broken wing too. It’s all in a day’s work
for DNR law enforcement. The days can be long and
often involve working weekends and holidays when
many people are enjoying the outdoors. But it’s a job with
a rewarding mission. Eighmy: It’s a struggle
between managing your family life, fun time and
then work, but you kind of knew that getting into the
field and that is what you love about it is being
able to go out and help people, protect the
natural resources, educate the public and make sure
people are, the public safety is a big thing too. It’s time for IPTV’s Trail
in a Minute where we show you a firsthand view of
a different Iowa hiking, biking or water
trail each episode. It’s a great way to
relive a previous outdoor adventure or plan a
future experience. And it’s a pretty cool way
to view the Iowa outdoors. Take a look. ♪♪ ♪♪ The Mount
Lucia Trail in Stone State Park offers every kind of
Loess Hills experience you could hope for. ♪♪ While imminently
hikeable, Mount Lucia is one of the many
multipurpose trails found in the park, meaning
hikers, bikers and horse riders are welcome
on the path. ♪♪ As you journey
along the 2.5 mile loop, the 4 foot wide trail will
shrink and it becomes very important to learn the
rules of yielding on a multipurpose trail. Hikers yield to horses. Bikers yield to everyone. And horses always
have the right of way. ♪♪ As the tree canopy
dissipates and the horizon begins to show, the summit
of Mount Lucia is nearing. ♪♪ After a 300 foot
elevation change you’ve earned some time to enjoy
the views should weather be cooperating. From here, hikers have
several trail choices, however, Broken Toe Trail
is the most direct route offering new adventures on
the way to the Lucia trail head. ♪♪ ♪♪ As your
hike comes to a close, hopefully you crossed
paths at least once with some equine adventurers. But if not, you now have
an excuse to traverse another trail in Sioux
City’s Stone State Park. ♪♪ That wraps up this
episode of Iowa Outdoors. We encourage you to get
outside and enjoy Iowa’s parks and recreational
opportunities. If you’re planning any
outdoor travel, check out our extensive video
archive of adventures at iptv.org/iowaoutdoors. While our episodes will
continue to bring you outdoor adventures over
the Iowa airwaves, be sure to check us out on
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for extended
features and extra content. And feel free to tag Iowa
Outdoors in your online posts. Who knows, you might
make it onto the show. For now, we’ll leave you
with more images of Iowa’s outdoor environments. (nature sounds) ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Funding for Iowa Outdoors
is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and Williams Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov.

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