DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa Department of Natural Resources commission has advanced restrictions on the state’s turtle trapping.

The rules approved Thursday by the commission would limit trappers to catching six or fewer turtles a day and bar trapping during a six-week period in late spring. The rules now will go through a series of public hearings and administrative steps, according to the Des Moines Register ( ). If approved along the way, they are expected to be in place by early February.

Lawmakers passed a measure during the last legislative session that requires the department to set a trapping season and daily catch limit. The newly proposed rule would restrict trappers to catching four snapping turtles, one painted turtle and one softshell or spiny softshell turtle per day. The process has proved controversial for turtle trappers, since the rule threatens their jobs.

“I believe the DNR doesn’t like to see people making a living from harvesting wild animals and I think this bag limit is a way for them to have their cake and eat it too,” said trapper Matt O’Hearn.

Members of conservation groups have expressed dissatisfaction, saying that the proposal will not protect the state’s turtle population.

“This rule has no scientific basis and is simply, apparently, the whim of the governor based on pressure from the turtle harvesters,” said Wally Taylor, chair of the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club.

Iowa is one of a small number of states that allows trappers to take unlimited numbers of certain turtles throughout the year.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,