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RUTHVEN - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is extending the muskrat trapping season on Trumbull Lake, Ventura Marsh, Burrows Pond and the Inlet Bay of Black Hawk Lake from Feb. 1 to April 1 to reduce the muskrat population and preserve the beneficial vegetation in the marsh. This extension is only for muskrats on the identified areas.
Iowa’s trapping season for all furbearers except beaver closed statewide on Jan. 31.
Trumbull Lake is part of the 5,000-acre Dewey’s Pasture Complex and offers excellent habitat for marsh wildlife.
Muskrats are the aquatic version of cottontail rabbits–their population runs in cycles; they have 2-4 litters per year and in the food chain, serve as prey to mink, otters, hawks, owls and coyotes.
Muskrats primarily use emergent vegetation (plants that grow up out of the water) to build their huts. The current population on Trumbull Lake is high and they require a lot of vegetation for hut building.
“Muskrats are an important part of a healthy marsh, and this year, we have a surplus here locally. We would like to lower the population by removing additional muskrats to preserve some of the beneficial vegetation thereby keeping the marsh in a healthy balance,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist for the Iowa DNR.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our trappers to extend their season and utilize the surplus of muskrats. We don’t feel that the additional harvest will reduce the numbers to the point of overharvest.”
Evelsizer said trappers participating in this special extension will be allowed to place their traps directly into the muskrat dens, which is a change from the regular trapping season.
“We are going to allow trappers to place their traps in the muskrat house (in-house trapping only) to reduce the chance for catching a non-targeted animal,” Evelsizer said.
Parking lots surrounding Trumbull Lake will have signs alerting visitors to the special trapping season extension.