By: Katie Wilson, Conservation Assistant at Delaware State Parks
The onset of cold weather recalls a strong connection to muskrats for many Delawareans. A traditional undertaking, muskrat trapping provided a supplementary income for families and was “a mainstay in the domestic economy of farmers along the Delaware River wetlands” through the 20th century and continues today (Fisher, et al. 1993, p. 60).
Traps are used in the estuaries and marshlands to catch the muskrats, which are harvested for their meat and fur. The trapping season for muskrats lasts from December to March. Historically, this was both a dependable and profitable endeavor. The bounty of the holiday season was directly tied to the market for muskrat for many families.
The Port Penn Interpretive Center houses a collection of artifacts relating to muskrat trapping as well as information about the history of Port Penn. This Interpretive Center is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, and during the winter, you can enjoy walking around the streets of the village. The Port Penn Wetlands Trail takes you out on an elevated boardwalk over the wetlands where you might even see some muskrats!
Photo credit: Port Penn Area Historical Society (portpenn.org)
For more tidbits of Delaware history as well as updates on cultural and environmental stewardship from our parks, you can follow “Delaware State Parks – Stewardship Program” on Facebook at @DSPResourceManagement»