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LAKE VIEW - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is extending the muskrat trapping season on Burrows Pond and the Black Hawk Marsh Complex in Sac County from Feb. 1 to April 1 to offer additional trapping opportunities of a temporarily abundant resource.
This extension is only for muskrats and only for the previously mentioned areas.
Iowa’s trapping season for all furbearers except beaver closes statewide on Jan. 31.
Muskrats are the aquatic version of cottontail rabbits–their population cycles are dynamic and their numbers rise and fall dramatically over a period of years. 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. Their diet is primarily plant based as well. While muskrats create open areas in marshes they are also capable of stripping the marsh of all its vegetation as their population densities crest.
“Muskrats are an important part of a healthy marsh, and this year, we have a surplus in some localized areas. We would like to extend the recreational opportunity by allowing a spring season. The current population of the previously listed areas allow for the harvest of additional muskrats to preserve some of the beneficial vegetation thereby keeping the marsh in a healthy balance,” said Clint Maddix, wildlife 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,” said Vince Evelsizer, furbearer biologist for the Iowa DNR.
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 areas for access to Burrows Pond and the Black Hawk Marsh Complex will have signs alerting visitors to the special trapping season extension.