February's frigid weather involving snow and ice has prompted Delaware's Division of Fish and Wildlife to extend the muskrat trapping season by seven days. 

"Our regulations allow the muskrat season to be extended if winter weather conditions during the month of February, a peak trapping month, are severe enough to limit trapping opportunities," said Joe Rogerson, deer and furbearer biologist for the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The regulations, Rogerson says, allow for either a seven or 14-day extension. With an average February mean temperature below 32°F and 19 inches of total snowfall, this year's weather met the seven-day season extension criteria. 

"Muskrat trapping is an important recreational opportunity and livelihood for many Delaware trappers. When winter weather conditions limit trapping opportunities, we will consider extending the season," said Rob Hossler, environmental program manager for the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife determined that the season extension also meets the criteria that the statewide muskrat population can sustain the extended trapping season.

The season will now extend through the following dates: Monday, March 17 in most of New Castle County; Saturday, Thursday, March 27 in embanked meadows or marshes (impoundments) in New Castle County; and Saturday, March 22 in Kent and Sussex Counties. 

This season extension applies only to muskrats and not to other furbearers or species legally trapped.

Muskrat is considered a Delaware delicacy and a season staple at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Smyrna. The restaurant serves the rodent sauteed with onions every Thursday through March. You get a "rat and a half," which amounts to six pieces, fried potatoes, stewed tomatoes and cornbread.

The restaurant, however, says next Thursday, March 13, will be the last day it serves muskrat, regardless of the season extension.