Baiting Box/Cage Traps with the Y Stick
Box and Cage Trapping Not as Easy as You Think
Box and cage traps are completely different to animals than traditional trapping tools. Here we have this unnatural metal or plastic contraption that we are trying to lure the animal into. He will sense its foreignness. The metal will feel harsh under his feet and his body may feel cramped by the small opening. All these factors add to the animal’s reluctance to enter the trap. So if we are going to get the animal into the trap we must make sure it has a good reason to enter.
Choosing the right bait or lure is of course very important to enticing an animal into the trap. However, if the bait isn’t situated properly in the trap, the animal won’t be able to sense it and know its there.
Animals hunt primarily using three senses, hearing, smell and sight. Typically WCOs do not utilize hearing in their trapping so we won’t discuss techniques for this sense, but I should note that this is changing.
The “Y” Stick Baiting Technique
Usually trappers exploit the animal’s sense of smell to capture the animal. The key is to bait the trap so that the food or lure molecules have the opportunity to disperse into the air. The method I like to use most often was taught to me by Rob Erickson. He advises trappers to get a ‘Y” stick and with the stem of the “Y” scoop out some of your bait. Then insert the stem into the bait area of the trap so that the bifurcated stems grab into the trap mesh thereby allowing the stem to dangle. With this method the bait has a very high exposure to the air around it. Other advantages lie in the techniques ability to reduce the loss of bait to hungry ants. By keeping the bait off the ground it is more difficult for the ants to find it. Finally, this technique allows the bait to remain active even if it rains. The small surface area makes it difficult for rain to wash it away and when it does then the bait can fall to ground where it may still be effective.
Downside of the Y Stick Baiting Technique
The downside to this method is that it works only with paste baits. If your bait or lure is especially liquid this baiting technique would not be recommended because it won’t cling to the stick properly. In addition, since the y portion extends above the trap, it may be affected by the trap cover. So if you use this method, be sure to check that the stick is still hanging properly after you cover the trap. Failure to consider this may allow the animal to grab the bait without having to get close enough to depress the treadle. Remember, animals are just as lazy as we are. If they can grab something by reaching for it rather than moving towards it they will. So be sure you hang the bait stick/wire towards the back half of the bait area.
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator and is available for consultation, speaking, and writing on wildlife damage management related topics.