Chapter 1: Trap Shy vs. Trap Wise Animals
When it comes to wildlife control, understanding your adversary is paramount. In this first chapter, we’ll delve deeper into the intriguing distinction between trap-shy and trap-wise animals.
Trap-shy animals are characterized by their initial fear or wariness of traps. This wariness often stems from their lack of prior exposure to these contraptions. They’re cautious creatures who may have stumbled upon a trap and realized that it’s something to be avoided. Think of it as the natural suspicion that many animals have towards novel objects in their environment. They’re not necessarily outsmarting us; they’re simply acting on their instincts for self-preservation.
On the other hand, trap-wise animals are the true challenge for wildlife control professionals. These critters have not only encountered traps before, but they’ve also learned to outsmart them. They’ve developed the ability to recognize a trap’s danger and actively avoid it. Some of them even go to the extent of testing traps, poking at them, and figuring out how to get to the bait without triggering the mechanism.
To handle these crafty creatures effectively, it’s essential to distinguish between trap-shy and trap-wise behaviors in the field. The former may simply require time and patience, while the latter demands a more strategic approach. By understanding these nuances, you’re better equipped to tackle the issue of trap-wise animals head-on.
Chapter 2: Change the Trap
Now that we’ve established the difference between trap-shy and trap-wise animals, let’s move on to the first strategy for dealing with trap-wise critters: changing the type of trap you’re using.
Adaptability is Key:
The beauty of wildlife control lies in its dynamic nature. What works for one situation might not be suitable for another. Trap-wise animals are intelligent and observant, so adapting to their behavior is crucial.
Switching Trap Types:
Consider the scenario of a stubborn gray squirrel. Gray squirrels are generally easier to trap, but what if one particular individual refuses to cooperate? This is where adaptability comes into play. In this case, switching from a standard squirrel-sized trap to a larger raccoon-sized trap was the game-changer. The squirrel, so used to evading traditional traps, fell for the unexpected, ultimately leading to a successful capture.
Size is one variable to play with when changing traps. Depending on the target species and the specific animal’s behavior, a larger or smaller trap may be the key to success. Think of it as offering a new challenge to these intelligent creatures, one that they can’t resist.
By varying your trapping tools, you’re keeping trap-wise animals on their toes, making it more likely that they’ll take the bait – both literally and figuratively.
Chapter 3: Vary the Bait and Baiting Technique
In the world of wildlife control, adaptability isn’t limited to trap types. It extends to bait and baiting techniques, as well.
Deploying Multiple Traps:
An essential strategy in wildlife control is to deploy multiple traps at a single site. This not only increases your chances of capturing the target animal but also allows room for experimentation. You can afford to diversify your baiting techniques when you have several traps in play.
Experimenting with Bait:
Different animals are attracted to different types of bait. While one animal might be lured by a protein-based bait, another could be enticed by something sweet. Glandular lures can also work wonders in some situations. The key here is to know your local wildlife, their preferences, and their tendencies.
Record and Adapt:
Keeping detailed records of which baits work best at each site is essential. Over time, you’ll develop a repository of knowledge that helps you choose the right bait for the right situation. Remember that wildlife control is as much an art as it is a science, and adaptability is your brushstroke.
Chapter 4: Modify the Trap’s Feel
Animals rely heavily on their senses, including touch, to navigate their environment. When a trap feels foreign or unnatural under their feet, they might become hesitant to venture inside.
Consider the surface inside a cage trap. It’s usually a smooth metal or wire mesh. For an animal used to the textures of soil, grass, and tree bark, this can be disconcerting. The unfamiliarity of the trap’s interior can trigger alarm bells in the animal’s mind.
To mitigate this, wildlife control professionals have devised clever ways to modify the trap’s feel. One method involves adding newspaper or loose soil to the trap, making it seem like a natural extension of the animal’s environment. This subtle change can make a world of difference in enticing the animal to venture further inside.
Another aspect to consider is the cover you use for your traps. By altering the appearance and feel of the cover, you can make the trap seem less threatening. For example, using a semi-open cover that allows light to pass through can make the trap feel less confining to the animal.
Chapter 5: Eliminate Odors
In the wild, animals rely heavily on their keen sense of smell to detect danger and locate food. When traps carry foreign odors, it can trigger caution and hesitation in trap-wise creatures.
The Odor Dilemma:
Imagine an animal approaching a trap and detecting the scent of a previous capture or even the human handler. This intrusion of foreign odor can set off alarm bells for the animal, making it reluctant to enter the trap.
To counter this, wildlife control professionals employ various deodorizing techniques. One method involves using a propane weed burner to gently flame the trap’s surface. This process volatilizes any lingering odors, including pheromones and body oils. It’s important to exercise caution when using an open flame, ensuring safety at all times.
For those who prefer not to use an open flame, rinsing traps with water or cleaning them with soap can be effective. The goal is to eliminate any scent traces that might deter animals from entering.
By taking steps to deodorize your traps, you create an environment that’s more inviting to trap-wise animals.
Chapter 6: Change the Set
In this final chapter, we explore the concept of changing the trapping set, a strategic move that can outsmart even the craftiest of trap-wise animals.
Understanding Trapping Sets:
Trapping sets are configurations that determine how a trap is placed in relation to the animal’s movement patterns. There are three primary types: baited sets, blind sets, and positive sets.
Baited sets involve using bait to lure animals into the trap. While this is the most common approach, it may not be the most effective for trap-wise animals.
Blind sets, on the other hand, don’t rely on bait. Instead, traps are strategically placed along an animal’s usual path. The absence of bait makes these sets less conspicuous and more enticing for cautious creatures.
Positive sets are designed to catch an animal as it exits its den or hiding place. These sets are highly effective when you know precisely where the animal is nesting.
Adaptation is Key:
The key to mastering wildlife control is adaptability. Recognizing when to switch between these trapping sets can be the game-changer when dealing with trap-wise animals. Depending on the situation and the animal’s behavior, you can transition from a baited set to a blind set or a positive set to outsmart your elusive target.
In this comprehensive guide to tackling trap-wise animals, we’ve explored the intricate nuances of wildlife control. By understanding the behavior of trap-shy vs. trap-wise animals, adapting your traps, diversifying baiting techniques, modifying the trap’s feel, eliminating odors, and strategically changing your trapping sets, you can significantly enhance your success rate in the field.
Wildlife control is an ever-evolving field, and success often hinges on your ability to think like the animals you’re trying to capture. Here’s to a trap-wise 2024, where you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and strategies needed to live the wildlife control professional’s dream.
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Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE
Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC