Declining Muskrat Populations?
What Trappers Can Do About It
We can do lots! And working with Tim Hiller is one of the best ways I have seen for us to get the ball rolling. Tim is a professional wildlife biologist and a trapper – and he knows the importance of muskrats to the eco-system and to trappers – and he is ready to do whatever it takes to see that muskrats flourish!
For years the U.P. Trappers Association has been discussing declining muskrat populations but none of us really knows the entire answer – too much rain, not enough rain, too many raptors, too many coyotes, too many otter, too much habitat loss – just what is happening to our muskrats and what can we do about it!!!!
Most of us got our start trapping muskrats because they are easy to catch, the needed equipment is minimal (also Kid-friendly), and the fur-handling is as easy as it gets! How can we expect to get youngsters into trapping without muskrats? How can our ducks and geese take advantage of the available food in cattail marshes, if muskrats don’t “eat out” some places for them to land? Can trappers even afford to run long mink lines in marginal territories, without muskrats to help pay for their gas?
Where do we begin?
 First, every trapper should read Tim’s article which appeared in the FurTaker magazine
 Secondly, we need to help Tim finance his research
 We need to get conservation departments on board
 We need to do whatever we can to get Tim Hiller working for the U.P. Trappers Association and every other trapping association in the country!
 Tim is a fellow trapper and a friend to trappers. In my opinion he is the “real deal”!
Here is a link to Tim’s article: Tim’s Article
Specifically, what can you do to help?
In the article Tim offers several ways you can get involved. And since the article was published Tim has reached out to Dave Hastings, the publisher of FurTaker magazine asking if he would contact most of the trapping associations in the Midwest to see if he can get as many “trapper logs” of their muskrat catches for the last several years as he can – to see if the downward trend is holding in all areas of the Midwest or if muskrat declines are occurring in small “pockets.” See the graph below:

Call or email the top wildlife guy in your state wildlife agency (commonly called the “Wildlife Chief”) and ask for State support for this effort
 If you have logged muskrat catch information, email it to tim.hiller@wildlifeecology.org so he is
aware of trends in your particular area. (If populations are down – but your catch is up only
because your skills increased – please mention this fact)
 Do what you can to get your trapping association or other outdoor groups you belong to
support this worthwhile effort
 If you can afford to make a small personal donation, please do so!
 Without the “lowly” muskrat to get youngsters “hooked,” trapping as we know it, could die!
 Would your favorite supply dealer be willing to help out?
 Can you volunteer some time or scare up some non-federal matching funds to get Wildlife
Restoration Program dollars for this important project?
And Tim is helping to preserve our all furbearers by re-writing and updating one of the best furbearer
management books written for wildlife professionals. Here is a link to the outline for Tim’s upcoming
comprehensive furbearer management “bible”: Wild Furbearer Management and Conservation in North America
Please help in any way you can,
Bob Steinmetz, NTA Director
U.P. Trappers Association