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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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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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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.
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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My 83 yr old grand dad is saying there is something wrong with the rat population also. Guy is still trapping after all these years... He also blames the weasel decline on farmers using pesticides on there fields.
 

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wasnt there also an article posted on this forum last year that stated a disease found in house cat (or feral cat) urine was killing the muskrats on farm ponds and such? i didnt post it so i dont know how factual it was but i definitely remember reading it
 

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I've seen the " clean water" theory in publications before. The problem with that idea is that few waterways would actually be effected by sewage treatment plants. Headwaters of streams, ponds and large lakes would not be impacted by sewage treatment. But they are all lacking muskrats also.
 

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Same here all over my area, I'm a big rat trapper, there wasn't that many to begin with in my area but I use to get 2 dozen or so by mid December, I'm at 8. And I let off them for two years. It's a real shame. But that's the way it goes when you protect everything with a talon
 

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I maintain a leachate treatment pond at closed landfill. three or four years ago it was loaded with muskrat. Today there is nothing. There was no trapping and no sightings of raptors. I'm at the pond about 3 days per week. I don't think the "clean water" theory is significant.
 

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I think there are more mink because there are less people trapping rats. I believe many mink are caught in sets made for rats. Less rat trappers, less mink incedentials. Not sure of that but just a thought.
 

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the clean water doesnt just mean treated sewage. it also is supposed to do with all the phosphates that are no long allowed in detergents and such.
its not so much as the non treated "poo" fertilized the banks as much as it phosphates no being there to promote growth from grasses and such. im not saying i buy into all of it but i know most of the creeks and such around here are hard rock botttom and rock banks now from high waters with not enough vegetation the hold the dirt.
 

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I don`t know what the answer is either but I know the last couple years the otter have moved in and the low rat numbers are turning into no rat numbers quick.I started trapping harder for mink in my area a few years ago just to help the rats and it seemed to be working to some degree untill the otter moved in.
 

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I don't believe for a minute that birds of prey have anything to do with the demise of the muskrat. I hear guys saying (I used to catch 200 rats on that pond but now the hawks have eaten them all) it just don't make sense to me. the decline happened quite suddenly, did birds of prey just start to get a taste for muskrat? my guess would be disiese or pestisides, either way, I miss those little buggers. also there was a little marsh in my area that had 3 or 4 houses on it . and opening day there were 4 cars parked there, I wonder how many were left for seed.
 

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Don't quote me on this but usually you hear of diseases when it's over populated, like how you hear good years and bad years with rabbits, that happens a good bit with them, I'm not saying it's not disease because it very well could be, but my guess it's either bird of prey or the mink are really hammering them, the clean water what not wouldn't change a swamp.
 
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