Hi fellow Iowa hunters,
My name is Brian Hibbs. I live near Oxford in Johnson Co, Iowa. I have had legislation introduced to allow the use of a leashed dog to track wounded deer in Iowa. I have been working on this for several years. The proposed bill has made progress and did make it through the Iowa Senate the other day with a 13 yea and 0 nea vote. It now has to get through the Iowa House. I am told that there is opposition in the House by some Southern Iowa Representatives. They are concerned this bill will cause dogs to over run their properties and create trespassing problems. This makes no sense because the bill contains specific language that states the dog will be on a lead under the control of the handler and permission must be obtained prior to tracking on private property. The DNR has told me they do not oppose this practice and I believe Diane Ford of the DNR actually helped answer questions to move this bill through the Senate. The bill is labeled SF 2017. Please note I am not doing this to try and profit off of tracking or anything like that. I do breed tracking dogs and have about 1 litter a year. I have no problems finding homes for my pups because they are in high demand. They go throughout the country. I am doing this because it is another tool that can be used to recover a shot animal when the animal leaves a sparse blood trail or no blood trail at all and conventional tracking methods don’t work. In these situations a trained dog can improve the success rate of recovery quite a bit. If you live in Iowa, I am asking for your support. If you could take the time to contact your House Representative and show your support I would really appreciate it. This could be done through a phone call or email. If you don’t know your Representative, you can find them through the Iowa legislation website. This would especially be helpful in the Southern Counties. I have included below an email I sent to the Representatives that I believe are opposing this bill. I also have included a letter written by John Jeanneney to our legislators. John has been tracking in New York State for many years and is a pioneer in introducing tracking in the states. He has written a couple excellent books pertaining to bowhunting, the use of leashed tracking dogs, and tracking wounded animals. He has had much experience in this field and does a good job explaining the misconceptions that opponents come up with to try and find unrealistic negatives about the practice. He and his wife run a website called “born to track”. I thank you once again for your support and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
February 1, 2012
My name is Brian Hibbs and I live in Johnson County near the town of Oxford. I have been working to get the use of tracking a wounded deer with a leashed dog legalized for several years. In July of 2010 I presented a petition to the Iowa DNR’s NRC showing how this practice is used in many states and that it is another tool to locate a deer that has been shot and cannot be found through traditional tracking methods. I presented information that tracking a deer with a dog on a leash under the complete control of a handler has proven in many other states to be a positive tool and created no extra problems for enforcement agencies in those states. Realize this is just a hunter tracking a deer like he would now with the only difference being a tracking dog ahead of him on a leash helping him to find sign he may normally miss. This petition was unanimously approved and the rulemaking process was set to go into affect. The DNR asked me if I would mind waiting until early 2011 to start the process because there wouldn’t be enough time to get the rule into the books for the fall of the 2010 hunting season and it would make it easier to just start it the following year. I agreed it would be ok to do this as long as we did what had been approved by the NRC petition. The next year rolled around and I discovered that Gov. Branstad had taken office and that he was changing the way things had been done in the past. I was told he was not opposed to this practice, just that he wanted everything to now go before his desk. This nullified all the work I had done and halted the rulemaking that should have been a done deal.
This year I had Rep. Willems propose this bill once again. I am told the bill passed out of the full Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee yesterday (1-31-12). It is assigned as SF 2017. After speaking with Rep. Rayhons and Rep. Smith they have informed me that many of the Representatives from Southern Iowa oppose this bill because they are worried about people overrunning their land with dogs. This proposed bill has specific language addressing these concerns. It states the dog will be on a leash under full control of the handler. The bill also states the tracker will need to obtain permission from any landowner involving private property before tracking on that property. I don’t think the bill can be any more cut and dry than that. If unethical people want to break the rules they will whether it is legal or not. If you are concerned about dogs over running your properties maybe you should address coyote hunting dogs that run wherever they want uncontrolled by a leash and people chasing them in vehicles. I understand that this is a popular practice in Southern Iowa.
I ask for your support with this proposed bill. The language is cut and dry about free-running dogs and trespassing. Please do not punish the rest of us Iowan’s in the other counties if you do not trust your citizen’s in the southern counties to follow the rules. As I stated before this practice has proven to be no problem for the enforcement agencies in other states. Diane Ford of the DNR has told me that they are not opposed to this rule as they were educated on it through my previous petition. Please ask her and she will confirm this. I am including a letter from John Jeanneney of New York as of to his experience with tracking in his state. Tracking with a leashed dog has probably been going on in New York State longer than any other state.
Date: January 6, 2012
Dear Representative Rayhons,
Since I am a resident of New York State, I venture to comment on the proposed Iowa leashed tracking dog bill only because I have had 36 years of experience with leashed tracking dogs. Perhaps I can offer some useful insights. In 1976 New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation issued me a research permit to investigate the feasibility of using leashed tracking dogs to find wounded big game. This method was being used in Germany and other European countries, but in the US it appeared to many hunters and non-hunters that deer hunting and dogs did not mix in any way. The decline of deer populations that came with the use of dogs to drive deer to the gun, was well remembered.
What I proposed in New York State was something very different from deer hunting with dogs. My research demonstrated that in New York leashed tracking dogs could find mortally wounded deer when hunters could not track them by eye. The value of a good dog is that he can follow the individual scent of a wounded deer, even when there is no visible blood.
1986, after a long period of experimentation, the New York State Legislature passed an enabling bill to establish the use of leashed tracking dogs on a licensed basis. Since then thousands of deer have been found by licensed trackers like me. Variations of the New York law have now been approved in a total of 21 states where the use of tracking dogs had previously been illegal.
In a state like Iowa, where professionally guided hunts are an important source of state revenue, the tracking dog would maximize an outfitter’s capability to use a wildlife resource in an ethical, conservation-conscious way while satisfying the expectations of his client.
As other states have considered and ultimately approved leashed tracking dogs,
certain questions and doubts have been raised. Below are responses that have been accepted as valid:
1. Experience with the use of leashed tracking dogs has shown that this has
not been used as a cover when poaching deer. The deer jacker knows that there are better ways of doing this.
2. The availability of a tracking dog does not encourage irresponsible shooting any more than availability of a retriever encourages irresponsible long range shots at pheasants and waterfowl.
3. Some have wondered whether a tracking dog on a leash would be illegally used to drive deer out of heavy cover to posted hunters. Anyone who has handled a leashed dog in the woods knows how impractical this would be. There have been no reports that this is being done.
To sum up, the use of leashed tracking dogs to find wounded big game has now been time-tested around the United State for many years, It is not a crazy, new idea. Writing as a man who has taken over a thousand volunteer deer calls, and who has dedicated much of his life to this cause, I urge you to give the Iowa tracking dog bill your serious consideration.
John Jeanneney, Vice President, United Blood Trackers
1584 Helderberg Trail
Berne, NY 12023
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