5 Tips for Effective Box or Cage Trapping
Many people, including some professional pest/wildlife controllers, think that live trapping wildlife is easy. Cage and box trapping (mistakenly referred to as live trapping when footholds and cable restraints are also live trapping) consists of using wire-based enclosures (cage traps) or solid wall enclosures (box traps) to capture wildlife. While it is true that the use of these devices is simpler than using footholds, the use of box/cage traps still requires attention to detail.
Here are five tips to make your use of cage/box traps more effective in resolving wildlife complaints for your clients.
Tip #1. Select the smallest size trap for the target animal.
Cage traps come in a variety of sizes and styles. It is best to choose the smallest size trap necessary for the animal you are planning to catch. For single door traps, choose 10x12x32; skunk 7x7x24 inches and squirrel 5x5x18 inches. These dimensions can be modified for different manufacturers but they provide a good guide. Small traps are less expensive and more of them will fit in your truck but the most important advantage is that they reduce non-target captures. Why set a skunk-sized trap when trapping for squirrels? Using a larger trap, increases the risk of catching a skunk or opossum or something else that isn’t the target animal your client has hired you to control.
Tip #2. Use the right bait
Failure to use enough traps means that you are not taking advantage of the time-benefits provided by traps. Traps work even when you are not around. I recommend setting at least 3 per job, more if you can. This allows you 3 trap nights for every 24 hour period where placing only one trap gives you only 1 trap night per 24 hour period. Think of it as more hooks in the water.
Tip #4 Choose the right location(s)
As they say in real estate, property is all about location, location, location. The same concept applies to trapping. Don’t make the animal move to your trap, move the trap to the path of the animal. Never make the bait do what moving the trap will do for you. Now of course, there are situations where the best location isn’t prudent, perhaps because children, pets, or the nosy public will interfere with your work. In those situations, you should still look for where the animal is likely to travel and find a more secluded spot. If that isn’t possible, then use a trailing lure available at professional trapping suppliers.
Tip #5 Follow the right setting procedure
Avoid sloppy setting procedures. Even though cage/box traps are more forgiving than footholds, you still need to stabilize them to keep them from wobbling when the animal enters. Wobbly traps can spook animals and sometimes cause the trap to spring prematurely allowing the animal to back out.
In addition, you must ensure the cage/box trap is humanely set. Contrary to popular mythology, cage/box traps can be quite cruel. Trapped animals can bake in the summer sun, or freeze in a driving ice-storm. So think about where you put your traps. Will they be shielded from the sun/rain. Chances are no. But simply covering 50% of the trap’s length with a sturdy cloth cover provides the animal with shelter from wind, rain, and sun. It also protects the bait from prying claws, forcing the animal to enter through the entrance to get the bait.
There is much more to effective box/cage trapping but these 5 tips will help remove a number of key mistakes made by wildlife control professionals.
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACP
Stephen provides consulting services to the public, wildlife control professionals, and others on issues related to wildlife damage management. He is available for conferences, workshops, and private training.