Muskrat Slump Has Experts Stumped

From DemocratandChronicle.com

According to various studies, the trapping harvest of muskrats in the
Northeast and mid-Atlantic region is down 75 percent to 80 percent
since the early 1980s. New York’s harvest fell from 539,196 in 1982-83
to 108,324 in 2007-08, according to trapper survey numbers from the DEC.

Falling
fur prices and fewer people trapping explain some of the harvest
decline but not proportionally to this degree, experts said. And while
muskrat populations traditionally have been prone to disease and
population swings, this has been a prolonged downturn for a species that
breeds prolifically (females average a litter of 4-8 “kits” three times
a year).

“We
don’t have any answers,” said Scott Smith, a furbearer biologist with
the DEC’s Region 8 office in Bath, Steuben County, who has been working
with other agencies.

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