Evidence for the effectiveness of controlling muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus L.) populations by trapping

Daan Bos*, Rosemarie Kentie, Maurice La Haye, Ronald C. Ydenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Unambiguous evidence for the effectiveness of muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus L.) control in well-established populations in mainland Europe is lacking. Yet, this evidence is important given ongoing public challenges to the need for muskrat control and the expressed political aim of the European Union to eradicate invasive alien species, including the muskrat. In this study, indices of muskrat abundance based on livetrapping were compared among (i) sites at which muskrat control had been suspended for 3 years (suspended trapping), (ii) sites with ongoing control by kill trapping (ongoing trapping) and (iii) a site at which control efforts had ceased more than 8 years previously (no trapping). In the no trapping site, the muskrat abundance index was variable but consistently high, while in the ongoing trapping sites, the muskrat abundance index was consistently low. In the suspended trapping sites, the index of muskrat abundance increased from a level near that of the ongoing trapping sites to that of the no trapping sites. The findings are corroborated by population estimates based on data from robust design mark-recapture models and data from kill trapping. The results are interpreted as compelling proof for an effect of control on muskrat numbers, a basic premise of the control programme.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2019


  • Capture-mark-recapture
  • Invasive alien species (IAS)
  • Pest species
  • Population dynamics
  • Trapping


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