Muskrat Population Decline? - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 03:48 PM Thread Starter
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Muskrat Population Decline?

I only trap a small section of a local creek in 2D. In the past I have always pulled in at least a dozen or so with the limited hole/blind sets I make for rats. This year I have walked the entire section of creek I trap (about 600 yards or so) and have found little to no sign of rats (i.e. holes or droppings). I have read a few posts and articles here and there about their numbers declining and was curious if anyone else has been experiencing the same thing. This is the first year I have ever connected on mink on this particular creek (have caught three so far - 1 male 2 female). Maybe the mink numbers in the area are the reason behind the limited rat sign I have seen. Thoughts?
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 05:14 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

There was a small stream through a corn field, that in a 500 yard section used to produce around 50-60 rats per year for us. We also took 1-2 mink per year there. Now there are not any muskrats at all in that section, and about the same number of mink. I don't think mink populations have changed much in the 20 years that it took for muskrat populations to vanish.
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 04:34 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

Owls have really hurt rat numbers.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 04:51 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

My section of lower Dauphin County used to be a very good 'rat producing area. However today I believe I can almost catch more mink than I can muskrats. As was mentioned above, streams that annually produced 80-100 'rats a year are now totally devoid of any 'rat activity.

I trap mink because I don't know any better
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 06:49 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

Easy to trap them out. I did it to a few ponds back in the late 80's. I learned to hit hard first night, then back off If I got too many from one hole I left active hole open. Leave the best as seed for next year.

I don't trap any more price and time. During Local duck hunting I seen allot of Muskrat huts. One cove has 6 on one side about 100 yds. apart, all made in two weeks.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 07:01 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

Its easy to trap them out because the raptors have the numbers so reduced. At one time you could trap a lot, and there was still plenty for seed. You can bet that if the day comes and there are only one male and one female rat, an owl would still kill them both, and have no concern for seed.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 07:18 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

First animal I caught in a trap was a muskrat out of Sandy Creek in DuBois. Did well over the years. Everyone is right you just don't see the numbers now.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 08:02 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

It's sad what has happened to rats, not just here in Pa., all across the the eastern US. I used to catch 150+ a year back in the 70s and early 80s. Don't know what the answer is. I agree owls are hard on rats, I used to have a half a dozen a year tore apart at Lake Arthur.
What I find odd is the higher mink population we have now. Mink were a rarity in my neck of the woods 40 years ago. I would have thought that with plunging rat numbers the mink population would also be on the skids. Just the opposite.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 08:16 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

Now I haven't trapped in about 20 years, so I'm not in tune to numbers like I used to be.

However, last tuesday, while stillhunting deer, I was amazed with the numbers I saw (at least 15 as I worked my way along a swamp.)

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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 10:44 PM
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Re: Muskrat Population Decline?

There have been many articles written over the last several years on the muskrat population decline. The increased number of avian predation I believe is a big factor but the most interesting article I read was the cleaner water systems are causing a decrease in muskrat populations. They claim that when sewage was regularly dumped into the streams this created thick vegetation growth along the banks. With the clean water act, sewage is now treated before entering streams which in turn does not "fertilize" the bank vegetation. With less vegetation, that's less food and cover for muskrats.

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