It’s now legal for the owners of hunting preserves to time the release of birds exclusively for a hunter or group of hunters to shoot. The 2009 Iowa legislature legalized what’s known as "tower shooting." Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, says it works like this: birds raised in a pen are thrown into the air for hunters to shoot.
Dearden calls it European-style hunting. "You have to be on a licensed hunting preserve," Dearden says. "…Sometimes they’re up off the ground when they release the birds. Sometimes they’re just kind of thrown in the air and they fly toward the hunters." This kind of shooting was common at preserves until a few years ago when the attorney general issued an opinion that it violated a law against using birds for target practice.
"They had done that for some time and then the attorney general did come out with an opinion that it was probably illegal," Dearden says. "And so, instead of somebody taking it to court to find out whether they were actually breaking the law, I’d been contacted by some of the hunting preserves to find out if I would change it for them."
Animal rights groups oppose this sort of shooting, as do some hunters who consider it unsportsmanlike. The provision which legalized "tower shooting" was included in a wide-ranging, catch-all bill that was the last bill passed by the 2009 legislature.