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Published December 11, 2012, 09:23 PM

Water levels have dropped in local sloughs making trapping difficult

Downer, MN (WDAY TV) -- Drive by any slough or small lake and you quickly realize how quickly water levels have dropped. And it is having an impact on those who trap during the winter.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Downer, MN (WDAY TV) -- Drive by any slough or small lake and you quickly realize how quickly water levels have dropped. And it is having an impact on those who trap during the winter.

But the big picture may be more of a concern. Our drought is affecting our wildlife in this region, a reflection, some say, of climate change.

Dusty Hough buys muskrats and beaver for a living. But the fur trader is experiencing a winter he and trappers would rather just forget.

Dusty Hough/Hough's Fur Shed: "70 to 80 percent down from last year, a lot of people were counting on them because of the high prices. The prices are up, but production is down 70 to 80 percent."

Our sloughs, especially those in west central Minnesota, are drying up. That means for trappers like Ryan Beattie of rural Barnesville, who also has a degree in wildlife management, muskrat trapping is down, significantly from last year.

Ryan Beattie/Trapper: "Last year all around there were muskrats huts everywhere and there this year there is nothing there just burning a lot of gas driving around trying to find muskrats, beavers and everything else."

Meantime the Minnesota DNR is coming up with an action plan to deal with climate change. Change that affects everything from frogs to trees in the state.

And Hough says it has meant fewer workers and trappers in his shop this winter, the animals are just not out there, a response to our changing climate and weather.

Hough: "Something going on in mother nature, we have seen in with coyotes and red fox the more you take the healthier the population is."

At ten tonight, hear from Otter Tail County trapper Jim Kath, who tells us he worked just as hard this winter to trap muskrats, but his numbers have been cut more than half.

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