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New fishes on exhibit 

November 6, 2010

Dr. Robert "Bob" LeVier passed away a few months ago, but not before he would leave his contributions to conservation education for all to see. What most visitors to the Conservation Center do not realize is that almost every mammal mount behind the glass of the woodland, prairie and wetland dioramas were put together by LeVier. A taxidermist by hobby, Bob liked to create realistic mounts of the furry critters common to Iowa.

Dr. LeVier retired from his professional work in Michigan a number of years ago, he then moved back to the Garwin area. He sought out the conservation center staff and discussed things he could do to assist with the display needs for conservation education. From that point on, the match of his skills through volunteering have provided excellent great additions to the conservation center. We will all be indebted to Dr. LeVier for his contributions.


Article Photos

The Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm is well known locally for its excellent wildlife displays in well done habitat dioramas. Fish mounts, many depicting native species to Iowa, are also on display in the classroom. The replica fishes now have three new additions. These include the Muskie, a freshwater drum and a brook trout. These replica mounts were purchased with memorial monies given in honor of the late Dr. Robert “Bob” LeVier. LeVier was a ‘behind the scenes’ supporter and volunteer for the conservation board.  His taxidermy skills were used to secure many of the mammals within the dioramas.

Fishing in the Iowa River in the fall is something not to be overlooked by the angler. The water is running low, slow and clear due to the dry fall weather. I think one could wade the entire stream bed above Marshalltown in hip waders right now. With a fishing rod in hand and a vest full of lures, a hungry walleye or two could be coaxed out of hiding. There have got to be some of these fish lingering in deep holes waiting for morsels of bait fishes to drift by. This weekend weather is going to be too good not to be outside ... so go fishing.


Fishing is also on the mind of BALD EAGLES. I've seen several lately, and heard more of them as they glide past my tree stand along the Iowa River. I always hear their high pitched cry before I see them. Later, when and if they come into view, the big white head and white tail backlit by a setting sun, creates a fantastic image, the magic of the moment, now etched into my memory. There is no way I could work a camera and long lens fast enough to capture the fleeting instant as the big raptor circles above the tree tops. But my memory will never forget how special those outdoor adventures are.

Eagles will be following the Iowa River corridor as they move south during their migration. While the eagles we will see all winter have lived well north of us, there may be no need for them to go any further south as long as they can find food locally. As long as there is open water in the river, eagles will try to exploit the water as a place to find and kill fish. If a long cold spell locks up the river, eagles need only fly 50 miles south to Lake Red Rock and hang out around the spillway of the dam with several dozens of other eagles.


Professional deer biologists were given a test. Could they accurately tell the age of buck deer just from photographs? The photos were from a research project in which all the deer were of known age. The result was a bit embarrassing. Using their best judgment based on body size, condition and relative antler growth etc, the quiz was given. For deer aged 1.5 years, the correct answer was made only 69 percent of the time. For 2.5 year olds, the right answer was given only 44 percent. Three and one-half year deer were tabbed correctly only 27 percent of the time. Deer 4.5 years old were identified by 31 percent, 5.5 at 21 percent, 6.5 year old deer at 12 percent and lastly 7.5 year deer were identified by 53 percent.

Aging living deer is educated guess work. Accuracy increases if one has a dead deer and tooth wear can be compared to charts and graphs concerning details of how teeth change over time. Even this method has errors. An improved system involves removing a deer incisor and sending it to a lab (with a good chunk of cash) for micro slicing, dyeing and examination under a high powered microscope to count enamel layers, similar to the growth rings on trees.

So for most of use common folk, we'll just have to put deer into general classes of young of the year, yearlings or adult. Beyond that, we can guess just as well as the trained biologists. If a deer lives to be 10 years old in the wild, possible but not likely, then the range we have to guess from is pretty narrow.


Iowa DNR officials want the input of hunters, trappers and fisherfolks at an upcoming meeting.The date is Nov. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm.It is important for all outdoor enthusiasts to listen, learn and offer comment on the future of hunting, fishing and trapping in Iowa. There will be some future hard decisions to be made and the stakeholders, those that buy licenses, need to be very aware of the present situation and offer guidance for the future.

This local forum will be offered to help DNR officials deal with the realities of the decades old Fish & Game Trust fund and its present financial squeeze, the fish and wildlife management work the consumer wants or expects, and looking down the next two decades, what do we envision for these natural resources?

Similar meeting will be held throughout Iowa during November. During the next few years, this trust fund will no longer be able to provide the same level of service outdoors men and women have come to expect. The DNR is not asking for license increase this year from the legislature, even though it is overdue. License money goes into the Fish and Game Trust fund to pay for management of wildlife, fisheries and law enforcement by game wardens.

In 1909 when Trust fund dollars began to be collected and applied to the land and natural resource management, our ancestors did not even have the opportunity to hunt whitetail deer, Canada geese or wild turkey in Iowa. They did not have a chance to catch walleye in waters of all four corners of the state. The investment of Trust Fund dollars from license sales made opportunities come to reality.

The meeting on Nov. 16 will attempt to discuss the vision for the long range of decades to come, to hopefully pay dividends for our children, grandchildren and beyond. I'll see you on the 16th.


Reminder: Jasper County's PHEASANTS FOREVER chapter banquet is Nov. 12 at the Newton Speedway. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the meal starting at 6:30. Call 641-792-8398 for tickets. PF is a non-profit tax-exempt organization that was incorporated in 1982. They are dedicated to the conservation of upland game birds and all wildlife that benefit from improved habitat.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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