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CLEAR LAKE - The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is extending the muskrat trapping season on Ventura Marsh, Trumbull Lake, 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.
Ventura Marsh covers about 500 acres, offers excellent habitat for marsh wildlife and serves as a natural filter removing nutrients from water before it enters Clear Lake.
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 Ventura Marsh 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 Ventura Marsh will have signs alerting visitors to the special trapping season extension.