Varmint Relocation Program: How to Trap, Humanely

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So, a little weasel is getting your chickens. The raccoons are eating more of your sweet corn than you are. Or maybe a skunk is stealing eggs. Like most folks, you enjoy having wildlife nearby, but you have your limits. Live traps can be a diplomatic solution.

You can buy a metal cage trap pretty inexpensively ? especially when you consider the cost of your losses and the durability of a metal trap. You also can build a wooden trap from scrap lumber and some hardware cloth (wire mesh). It's a relatively simply process and you could make several different sizes of traps in an afternoon, even without using power tools ( instructions are online).

Bait the trap with corn, fish, cat food (lots of animals love cat food) or whatever works in your situation. The critter enters the trap and hits the release, the doors snap shut, and you have a trapped wild animal on your hands. Now what?

Trapping a varmint is easy. What you do with it afterward is the hard part ? especially if it's a skunk. You have several choices:

  1. Put the critter (trap and all) in the back of a truck, drive to the next county and open the trap. (A friend of mine refers to this as the 'witness relocation program.') Just remember, turnabout is fair play. People in the next county might be relocating varmints to your county, too.

  2. Have a reasonable conversation with the critter. Explain your investment of time and financial resources in your garden or poultry flock. Offer to set out additional dog food if he'll leave your garden and chickens alone.

  3. Build a large, natural habitat with observation areas and call it a zoo.

But seriously, if you have indeed trapped a live animal, be cautious when moving the trap and releasing the animal. The expression 'fighting like a trapped animal' should come to mind at this point. The animal is frightened and feels threatened, and will do whatever it can to protect its life ? including, but not limited to, clawing and biting. (Remember, some varmints could conceivably be rabid.)

Be careful not to get any part of your body so close to the cage that the animal could injure you. One possibility is to push dowel rods or thin pipes through the wire mesh to make carrying poles. Moving the cage using this method would require two people.

If you've trapped a skunk, you probably need additional advice. Specific information on coping with skunks can be found by clicking here or here.

Trapping isn't your only option, of course. Co-existing is a possibility. Consider these options, too:

Create wildlife habitat in your backyard.

Consider livestock guard dogs.

Pest Proofing your Garden is an e-book that offers many suggestions on keeping critters out of your garden. Many people also recommend Electronet, an electrical wire mesh fencing to keep poultry in and varmints out.

Do you have another humane trap or peacekeeping strategy that works for you? Tell us about it in the comments section below.