Varmint Relocation Program: How to Trap, Humanely

| September/October 2007

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.

Torre CIani
11/18/2007 12:00:00 AM

I'm sure my comments were misunderstood, I only trap them to give my self a chance to fix what allows them to get under my house. Then release them locally.

R Yarnell
10/26/2007 12:00:00 AM

The game is on and for both of you, the stakes are high.1) Change the position of the trap and firmly staple it to the ground (bend heavy wire into large "U's".2) For a couple of nights, bait the trap, but don't open it. 3) Wire or otherwise tie the bait in the middle of the trap (still behind the treadle), so that even if the animal succeeds in moving the trap, the bait will remain out of reach. Use small pieces of bait.4) Open the trap.It's your wits against his!

S SSanf
10/26/2007 12:00:00 AM

Thanks! I will try those suggestions. This ground hog is driving me nuts. No spring or fall peas for me this year! He hardly even left me any seed to try again.

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