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Author: Subject: Muskrat study
Mark
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[*] posted on 6-11-2018 at 01:55 AM
Muskrat study


I just read the cliff notes version of the muskrat study. What I deduced from the summary was the exposure to metals is causing a decline.
Well were those rats exposed to the application of human waste applied to rural fields in place of fertilizer?
I think that the human waste has heavy metals from the treatment process, but I could be wrong.

Has anyone asked about this?
Thank you,
Mark




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[*] posted on 6-11-2018 at 01:33 PM


I think the sites that had the highest concentrations were linked to industrial discharge, probably many years of it.



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[*] posted on 7-11-2018 at 08:41 AM


I believe heavy metals are used in the processing of herbicides , and insecticides .
Even ponds that aren't on farms , seem to lack muskrats , while wet spots that crop up in areas that normally are dry , seem to produce many rats , while old ponds don't .
I don't know for sure , but it makes sense to me.
But these over night rat populations seem to disappear when the wet areas freeze up , as most are too shallow to not completely freeze . Also there aren't bank dens , just houses .
People use chemicals like copper sulfate to kill the algae in ponds also.
The algae is caused by phosphates in fertilizers .
Another thing that strikes me , is the lack of cattails , any more .
Every pond has what I call prairie grass , with the small skinny root system , unlike the tubers of the cattails .
I've just pointed out what I've seen over the years .
It's just my theory , and I remember catching 400 rats a year in the early 70's , while working a full time job.




Bill
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[*] posted on 7-11-2018 at 11:28 AM


Bill, I know when I had lots of rats in the 80s we let the cows run right in the creek. You cannot get much more direct deposit than that. But we put buffers along the creek and keep the cows out since 90. The muskrat population is very low now.
I am not sure about your claim of fertilizers causing the algae in ponds. There are ponds in my neighborhood that do not have field runoff or tile from the field going into the pond and they have algae problems. I assume most of the ponds are shallow and the sun can penetrate to the bottom and that causes most growth. My neighbor has a deep pond 20' where no algae grows unless in the shallow swim area. He says it's from the kids stirring up the water. I don't know, we have a pond the cows use for water and its cloudy but shallow also, great pond for turtles and catfish. Plus the cows like to wade in to keep the flies off their feet, legs and belly for awhile.
I would say some of the down stream pollution could be from fertilizers but look at your parking lots around town, most of them are a straight shot to the storm drain to the stream. Every drop of oil, cigarette butt and residue from the black top goes directly into the stream.
Plus the, my lawn is greener than your lawn contest that goes on in every neighborhood. The runoff from those lawns goes straight to the stream along with the residue from the shingles and engine oils from the parked cars.

I just think there are many more variables to the whole muskrat/ pollution deal than just "it's all the fertilizer".

Most of my water shed comes from the back of houses built upstream. I do know the flow of water has been reduced from a 3by2 foot stream to a 2by1 foot stream. As far as water volume goes. I am not sure if it is from the houses being on wells or a change in the hydrology of the soil in my area.

I do know that when the USDA wanted everyone to plant buffers along streams some did and some did not. This did 2 things took away the natural vegetation along the stream bank and everyone planted fescue, which isn't the best food for a muskrat. Also it made the travel route farther for the muskrat to go where he wants to go and the travel way is wide open for predators to watch because most are mowed like lawns.

Sorry for the run on sentences, lol. My grammar teacher would not be proud!

Just my two cents. Like I mentioned earlier in my opinion there are several different would be culprits that combined are causing an effect.

Mark




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[*] posted on 8-11-2018 at 06:39 AM


Mark ,
I agree there are many factors involved with the decline in muskrat .
We have had a very wet summer in my area.
I saw a place today that was just a field last year, and now it has cattails and about two feet of water .
There were two nice sized houses in it , that I saw just going by.
There's rats out there , and cows do crush in the den holes , and cause rats to move , same as ducks and geese , that eat much of the grass around ponds .
When I was catching 400 rats , I was lucky to catch 6-9 mink a year .
LOL Last time I trapped a few good ponds 6 years ago , would catch that many in a week , trapping the same as I did years ago.
Not targeting them .
Is the mink population , and the birds of prey still another factor ?
The heave metals could come from many places like you have mentioned .
But out in the country and in places where ponds are on small lots .
I see lawn care like you mentioned , plus they kill the cattails around the ponds .
I'm just going on the theory that was mentioned in the rat study about the heavy metals .
Algae , like the blooms in lake Erie , in the western basin , are traced to the draining of the swamp land that used to filer the water before it reached the lake .
I read an article about it years ago.
Much like streams have been rerouted in straight line flows in many places .
I grew up farming , and know there are more chemicals used today than there was back in the 60's and 70's when rat populations were huge compared to them today.
Just keep working with the study , get them the carcasses to study .
Two rats can produce a lot of rats in a summer .





Bill
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Mark
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[*] posted on 8-11-2018 at 03:40 PM


Bill,
The field you saw with the cattails and water, was it a crop field the last several years and they just didn't get it planted this year?
I understand about the cows stomping the den entrance, try adding traps at that point!! WE havent put the cows in those fields since 90, unless they get out! So i would have thought more rats would have moved in. The rats I do catch are huge no kits. I also wonder about the fluctuation in water levels during the nursing of the kits. Do some litters get lost due to the water rising so now we only have two litters survive and they are later so the kits do not produce.

Thats a great rat catch and the recent mink are a great bonus.

straight lining the streams are the worst thing that could happen. I have noticed where I have clams or mussels I have more rats plus like you said cattails usually equal more rats. Putting in Tile is a fact of life if your farming. most of the tile in the swamp is old clay up until the 80's when plastic became the easier option. With the plastic more goes in quicker where the clay in my area we just hit the very heavy areas. Most of that is 2 feet maybe? the plastic is now going in 3-4 feet so that is pulling more water out of the field. The worst part is if Fertilizer is applied in the fall it does not break down and get tied up quick so it is open to a big rain moving the soil, especially if it is chisel plowed in the fall, and running off the field. I think that is most of the problem in the Erie area.
I think the Chemical aspect is over rated. the use rates of chemicals is lower now than before. people used to put on 5lbs of atrazine for season long control but now we are regulated to 1lb. Plus I think some of the chemicals that were in use are now banned, DDT for instance. Most in my area me included do not use more than we need or even spray insecticides because you just killed all your beneficials.
I was in the fertilizer industry, 10 years, and the biggest concern was not over application because that cost more money. No one i worked with wanted to over apply.
I still farm now and best thing we have been doing is the cover crops because we see more rabbits, pheasants, fox, and insects, bees, plus the cows love to eat them.

I am not sure what to do with the muskrats, but the same ponds in my area seem to hold them each year or every other year, I think its the stable water levels that help.
I just know I like working with them more than COON!!! I dont seem to get as tired setting, catching or put up!

ill let you know if I have more than usual.




Mark Peters
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