Muskrats are considered a pest species in the Netherlands, and a year-round control program is in effect. Currently, the agency responsible for the management of muskrat populations in the Netherlands (the LCCM) is preparing for field studies to compare alternative strategies of control. In order to decide on the specific design of such field studies, a population dynamic model was built. The model compares the current management strategy with alternatives in which the effort is focused in space or in time.
The model allows us to prioritise future research questions. The major gaps in knowledge at this moment are 1) an insight in the costs of harvesting at different harvest rates, and 2) the relationship between population density on the one hand and (economical damage or) safety-risk on the other hand. We suggest continuing the current management, and to test our hypothesis that intensifying harvest will lead to lower numbers of animals killed in the medium term than more extensive harvest rates. The muskrat control program offers excellent opportunities for applied biological studies of which the benefits are likely to outweigh the costs.