A Creel Census For Crater Lake
Season of 1938
By Arthur D. Hasler, Ranger Naturalist, 1938
This is a report of the second creel census for Crater Lake. The first report by Hasler (Nature Notes, July and August 1937) when compared with this shows a decrease in the number of fish caught. Table 1 summarizes the data for the 1938 fishing season, the season being considered as from July 1 to September 1, the period when boats are available. In July 1937 the catch per hour per fisherman was 0.83 fish; for July 1938 the catch amounted to 0.52 fish. In August 1937 the catch per hour was 0.66 fish; for August 1938 it was 0.39 fish. During both the 1937 and 1938 seasons the August fishing season showed a slump over July. While the yield of fish during the 1938 season shows a decrease over that for 1937 the quality of the fish caught during 1938 was quite satisfactory and equal to last year.
*Boats used for one hour or less not included.
Muskrats In Crater Lake National Park
By Ralph E. Huestis, Ranger Naturalist, 1937
On June 12, 1937, Ranger Bernie Hughes brought in a muskrat killed in the vicinity of the dining room at Park Headquarters. The specimen, an immature female, was put up and the skull, somewhat damaged in taking the specimen, was preserved. Since then, rangers have reported two other specimens; one observed dead in a small creek four miles from the west entrance of the park, and another killed on the road near Godfrey's Glen. In all cases these animals were found a considerable distance from a body of water of any appreciable size.
Neither Anthony (1935) nor Bailey (1936) list muskrats in or near the park. The latter author says: "They have not been taken in the Klamath or Pit River Valleys nor in Summer, Abert, or Warner Lake Valleys, although these great lakes and tule marshes seem admirably adapted to their requirements and very similar to the Malheur Lakes were they abound." (1) One the other hand a number of Crater Lake National Park rangers either resident in or very familiar with the district assert positively that the region of the Upper Klamath Lake abounds in muskrats, and that large numbers have been skinned and marketed in recent years. It is suggested in reconciliation of these opposed statements that muskrats taken in the Klamath region represent the descendants of escaped animals recently introduced in the region for purposes of fur farming, and that the specimens seen in the park are immigrants from the Upper Klamath Lake. If inquiry shows this to be the explanation, the taxonomic position of park muskrats will be problematical because commercial animals may be from various sources.
The muskrat, Ondatra zibethica, (Fiber zibethicus, according to Bailey) should make an interesting addition to the park fauna if it is able to establish itself. It is a large rat with relatively small ears and eyes, and thick dark brown fur. The long, almost naked tail is laterally compressed. The fore feet are small but the hind feet are relatively large, the toes being slightly webbed at their bases and supplied with heavy lateral fringes of bristles. The tail and hind feet are thus highly adapted to swimming. As in many rodents there are four toes on the fore feet and five toes on the hind feet.
In still water muskrats build large dome-shaped houses, the bases of which are submerged. Entrance is from underneath. In streams or in lakes with steep banks they burrow in from under the water, inclining their tunnels upward to a nesting room which they hollow out above water line. Their food consists of bulbs, roots, leaves, tubers, or other portions of plants which grow adjacent to our in the water. The name muskrat comes from the fact that certain glands produce a musky secretion.
The muskrat has been one of the most important fur-bearing animals on the continent famous for its fur trade. The writer remembers seeing as a boy, in Edmonton, Alberta, the greatest shipment of raw furs ever brought in from the Mackenzie River country. In this shipment, pictures of which were common in Canadian press releases at the time, the muskrat skins outnumbered all others combined, and formed a pile on the floor of the skating rink approximately six feet high and some thirty feet in diameter.
Catches in all parts of Canada and the United States have been much reduced in recent years. The future supply of these valuable furs will probably have to be produced by artificial propagation which may very well be the cause of this addition to the fauna of Crater Lake National Park.
1) Bailey, Vernon, The Mammals and Life Zones of Oregon, North Amer. Fauna, No. 55, U.S.D.A., Bur. of Biol. Sur., 1936, p. 215.
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