People often ask, “What is the best bait?” Bait formulations is kind of a dark art in wildlife control. Bait manufacturers have the aura of the ancient alchemists, those who can turn the common material into gold. Unfortunately, determining the best bait takes time and a diligent record keeping. But if you are willing to do the work, you will be rewarded.
So how does one go about determining the best bait? You could go on various wildlife and pest control group pages and ask for suggestions. While that is a really easy tactic and can help you find some quality baits, it may not help you find the bait that works in your area. You also have to consider that some of the comments may be biased in favor of a particular brand of professionally manufactured bait due to unstated relationships.
A better method would be to consult with reputable bait manufacturers. The best bait manufacturers will have years of trapping experience and refuse to overhype their bait. They will tell you straight out when to use and when not to use a particular bait.
But if you want to know how to determine the best bait on your own, then I would suggest the following steps. First, select three baits that you want to test. Let’s call them Bait A, B, and C. Next you want to know how well these baits work on a particular species, say skunk. Take a notebook and create four columns. Column 1 is the date and columns 2-4 will be labeled bait A-C respectively. Gather your traps, you will want to be sure that you will use three traps at every skunk job. Set all three traps in an identical manner, such as distance from the hole or trail. Since this is often impossible to do, you will need to randomize the order, so that at Job 1, trap with Bait A will be closest to the hole, and at Job. 2 Bait B will be closest to the hole and so on. Use care not to cross contaminate traps with other odors. You should flame or wash your traps between jobs so that “clean” traps are used each time.
After about 20 jobs or so, evaluate your data. Which bait had the most success? If it isn’t clear, keep at it. Ideally, you want to do this for an entire year or at least for each season. Sometimes some bait works better at certain times of the year. You may find that all three baits work the same. Let the data teach you. Once you have an answer, you can then study other baits by the same process.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel) along with several books (https://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com/store-2/). Listen to his podcast at PestGeek Podcast (https://pestgeekpodcast.com/). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. If you would like to have Stephen speak at your event or use his consultation services, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.