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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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
Trapping isn't your only option, of course. Co-existing is a
possibility. Consider these options, too:
Create wildlife habitat in your backyard.
livestock guard dogs.
Pest Proofing your Garden is an e-book that offers many
suggestions on keeping critters out of your garden. Many people
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.