Steven Van Tassel here wildlife control consultant bringing you in another episode of Living the Wild Life, he took a couple of weeks off from talking about tree squirrels. So I promised that I would talk about the control of tree squirrels because already talked about some of their biology to get you up to speed on that. Just sort of refresh your memory. Most of you are already quite familiar tree squirrels. Just a little refresher. So I want to talk a little about control techniques. So I’m not going to talk about all of them. But I wanted to highlight a couple of things, particularly for those of you who are looking to get into some wildlife control, maybe to expand your business out, particularly during the slower months that may occur in the winter, although I’m told that some guys there isn’t no slow month. It’s just a matter of, you know, there’s chaos and then managed chaos. So but anyway, if you’re not one of those and you’re looking to do a little work on wildlife control and you haven’t maybe purchased any products, let’s talk about some of those.
Using baited sets to control tree squirrels
So I’m going to refer primarily to using baited sets to control tree squirrels because most people would they’re starting off in the business. That’s how they begin. They begin with a baited set, It said nothing wrong with that. You know, I think that with the technology we have today, we you can certainly move faster to positive sets. So for those of you who haven’t aren’t familiar, again, with those types of sets, I did a podcast earlier on Nespoli.
It’s just sort of highlight what those three sets are. So you have a baited set. That’s your typical cage trap or box trap with bait that lures the animal into the location. So it’s your baited set. Then you have what’s called a blind set.
The blind says where you are placing the trap along the trail or it directly in front of the hole so that whatever moves in or out of that location is going to get caught, sort of like a two dauber trap. So you place it on the trail, there’s no bait whatsoever. The animals just simply mosey along and it’s Thorold business way and it gets caught. And then the third type of set, which in my opinion is really the holy grail of wildlife control and that is a positive set.
Now, you can’t always use it, so I need to be careful what I say here. But so but a positive set is you are placing a device over the whole opening and the only animal you’re catching is what’s coming out of the hole where a blind set you could catch an animal coming in or going out with a positive set you’re only catching. I don’t like using this language all the time, but it gets the point across. The guilty animal, the animal that is simply involved in living in that house or living in that den would be a positive set. One way to remember it is you’re positively certain you caught the guilty animal, because in fairness, that is a concern when you’re dealing with clients, especially if you’re charging by the visit or you’re charging by the animal that if you’re putting baited traps up there or even blind sets, the blinds sets are a little less attractive. You know, sometimes squirrels will travel a little ways to get there, particularly during mating season.
So if you’ve got a you know, a pregnant, you know, a estrus female and she’s ready to mate. Man, those males are going to come from all over the place. So you could be racking up quite a bill for people. But again, I kind of digress. So those are your three sets, baited blinds set, positive set. So. I’m going to talk a little bit today about what type of equipment do you want to have when you’re trapping squirrels?
So the first rule about trapping is traps are like money
Right? So more is better. So you don’t want to be trapping squirrels and just setting a trap. I mean, the question I sometimes ask people is I say, look, do you hunt with a bullet? And they generally, you know, they look at that and they clearly mean no. All right. I’m a little more snarky with people. I don’t have to make a living doing this. I’m not recommending myself as a great salesperson. I’m not. OK. There are people a lot better than me. I can assure you. But sometimes the I want you to sort of understand that these are the types of some of the questions you’re gonna get. And it’s just some of it’s just silly.
So you want to be sure that you’re capturing the guilty, So remember traps like money if you’re not setting three traps at a site.
You know, you’re kind of wasting your time a little bit, right? Because the whole point of trapping is you’re trying to get the job done. Right. Trapping is time intensive. It’s not like toxicants for you to simply lay out toxicants. You’re done. We’ll see you next week, man, or next month with trapping. You’re gonna be there every day or someone’s going to be checking it every day. And if your client’s not checking it, you’d better be there checking it because it’s a humane issue. Right. So I don’t one digressed on the road. So you’ve you’re looking at three traps. The problem is.
Trapping is equipment intensive.
It takes up a lot of room in your truck. And so when I first started back in the day, I was using traps that were 7 by 7 by 24. And that’s the kind of trap I thought I needed to use because I just thought many squirrels are so long. I gotta be sure they’re inside the cage. I don’t want the door hitting him on the back of the butt. And then they’re squeezing back out. Now I have an educated squirrel and then things really get bad. Well, little did I know. And so I want you to learn from my ignorance at this point so you don’t make my mistakes. And this is part of the evolution of our industry. You don’t need a trap that big.
What is the go-to trap to cover a lot of different animals.
Now, certainly, if you’re beginning in the industry and you want to try to say what is the go to trap to cover a lot of different animals, you can certainly get a 7 by 7 by 24 trap. And that will allow you to catch skunks as well as tree squirrels such as fox squirrels and gray squirrels. You can certainly do that. So all those traps I was using was one by one inch mesh. You know, we’ve talked about that in earlier podcasts. You probably want to get to a half by one. But again, I started out early. But I was still having these long traps. And what happened was as my business grew set, these traps are taken so much space in my truck, because if you’re you know, you’re doing 10 jobs, let’s say you’re doing 10 different clients. Well, that’s 30 traps for squirrels, right? That takes up a lot of room. Just do the math, right. I mean, 7 by 7 inches times 10, 70 inches. Right. So you can try to put them side by side or lay it, stack them, whatever the casement it sooner or later. This takes up a lot of cubic feet in your in your truck.
Well, let me tell you how to resolve some of that.
And this is the beauty of how the technology has changed. Our understanding of squirrel trapping has changed. And that is you can use a guy turned me on to this. I’m not exactly sure who might been Donald Fountain.
Not a Massachusetts, I think. But don’t quote me on that. But I. He may have been the one who did it for me. And that is you can get a safeguard five by five by 18. A beautiful, cute little trap, particularly when you’re looking at using the skunk trap, the 7 by 7 by 24. Now you’re down to a 5 by 5. And you’re looking at this thing. And I’m like, really? This is going to catch a gray squirrel. And the answer is, oh, yeah, yeah. It’s going to catch a great squirrel. You can fit. Three or four of these traps, almost in the same amount of space as I would be consumed by your seven by seven by 24. Not quite, but it is you will feel the difference in your truck, right? So now you can pile it more. More traps plus more traps in your vehicle. And plus you have a lower cost, right? These traps are going to cost you a little bit less than the larger than larger trap.
So I mentioned a brand name there. Just in truth in advertising, I’m not making any money off the safeguards. So don’t think I’m, you know, pushing them tomahawk as a trap. Similar times. The point is the key there is not so much the brand as it is the five by five by 18 inch trap.
And so you’d want it. They want to make sure you’re focusing on those that have the half by one inch mesh because you don’t want to be having a squirrel reaching in with that five inches.
Right. Squirrel can reach through a larger cage mash. And all of a sudden he’s grabbing your bait and leaving and you’re like, hey, what happened here? Right. So I love that particular trap. Make sure they’re stable. Set them up. You can put several of those near one another and bang. You’re good to go to catch. Catching your squirrel.
How do you beat it?
Well, I would just simply take the paste bait and smear it right on the treadle. Now, if you’re using seeds, I’m always nervous when I hear about wildlife control operators using seeds because seeds are extraordinarily attractive to birds. And so you don’t want to run the risk of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. OK, so be careful out there. So I would say if you’re going to be using seeds and.
Seeds are really attractive to grey squirrels, fox squirrels.
You don’t black sunflower seeds are just awesome is if you’re using some of that along. Whatever you’re pasting onto the treadle, make sure you’re covering that trap so it’s not visible, particularly from above. So if you’re putting that trap up on a roof along a gutter line, you want to make sure that that’s sort of covered. So that bait is can be seen by a squirrel that’s cruising by, but not by a bird flying overhead or flying by and all of a sudden sees those black sunflower seeds and has to go check it out.
So that is something you want to be very careful when whatever your whenever you’re trapping. So I talked about the five by five by 18.
There is another trap. This one’s produced by wildlife control supplies.
Again, truth in advertising. They do sell some of my wildlife, my books, but I don’t get any money off. They’re selling the type equipment, same way with Tomahawk. They sell one of my books. So I don’t I’m not getting any commission off this, just to be clear with everybody. Right. So I don’t think there’s a lot of interest, but the key here is the size. And I am not aware of other places that are selling. This is called the Wildlife Control Supplies Shortie. And that’s a five by five by 10. Now, think about that for me. We went from 24 inches. Now we’re down to 18 inches in length and now we’re down to 10 inches in length. Now, I’ve never used this trap personally. That’s a really short trap. But the five by five by 10.
But he built it because he had a lot of wildlife control operators who were having to get traps inside of stoves and fireplaces because in the wintertime, males are hunting for females and they keep fallen down chimneys because people don’t cap their chimneys. So they would wanted a way to get a trap that was small enough that would fit into the fire box of some of these stoves or they would get up above the smoke shelf and get inside the chimney that way.
And he built he had this bill to five by five by 10. He called it the shorties so that people could set the trap above in the smoke shelf or put it inside the wood stove and then close it up and not worry about the suited squirrel running around the white living room. You know how that always happens whenever you’re dealing with the squirrel, it’s all sooty. It’s going to be running around in a white room. Always prepare for Murphy’s Law here, folks, OK? But he’s the people have loved this trap he had. I think it was off market for a while. And I like it. Looks like he’s brought it back five by five by 10. This is all in inches, by the way. So you have some options there.
He also has another trap that’s designed for placement inside gutters. It’s called like a simple trap. And so there’s three different sizes, but it’s something that would just simply set directly inside of a gutter because it’s that narrow. And yes, squirrels will go in that. I haven’t used that. Some of this equipment’s come out after I’ve left them in that field work. So it’s something for you to think about. So what should you do if you had to? If you’re asking my advice to Stephen, which. I start with my advice to you would be to start with the five by five by 18 as your go to trap the beauty of that particular trap, particularly if you get the one straight half inch by one inch mesh as you can catch red squirrels in them, you can catch grey squirrels in them and you can even catch chipmunks.
And so it can be a multi use device and that can be helpful for you. And so there the price is right with them. Get yourself a dozen or so of traps. Don’t go skinny. Understand? NewCOA does have an arrangement with with wildlife control supplies for a disconnect. Well, if control supplies gives you a discount commission later on. So sometimes people get a check if you buy enough. I think it’s 5 percent that to be a member newco to get it. That’s just something out there. So yeah. Truth in advertising. I am a board member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. So, hey, I’m a believer. The association. Whether you join or not is completely up to you. I dont know if the PMA has any type of arrangements with various Trappe vendors. I can’t speak to that. I am a member, but I’m I’m kind of a quasi government members from not a full member of the PMA. I’m one of those gang members because I work for a government agency in the country.
So that is another trap for me. Let me tell you about one more, Stephen. Hey, I want to kill Trappe. I don’t want to have a trap. I have to kill kill the animal. I want the trap to do it for me. Well, let me tell you about another trap. I love this trap. Fortunately, I lived in the state of Massachusetts and they banned it because that’s what liberal states do, right.
The Wildlife Control Supplies Tube Trap.
They have a piece of equipment. And if it works, we got to ban it because it’s an unfair advantage. I know that’s my political statement for today. OK. But this is called the Wildlife Control Supplies Tube Trap. Awesome trap on Grey and Fox Squirrels. Let me give you the dimensions of it. It’s a four and a half inch diameter tube. That’s 15 inches long and has a Straker bar inside. So if the squirrel enters the trap again, it would be squirrel can see through it. There’s a treadle. There’s a trigger on the inside on the middle of the trap. If he steps on that trigger and fires a, a very powerful I want to warn you, folks respect this trap. That spring is strong. I can tell you, if you’re not paying attention, you can hurt yourself and hurt yourself severely with it. So be careful that Straker Bar then pushes the body of the squirrel up against the internal side of that tube, basically crushing it.
The spring is powerful enough that it actually passed Canadian humane lethal trap standards as well as those in the UK, which is impressive. You may say, well, what do I care about that? You know, guys, I think it matters, right?
What it does is it tells you that the trap has met a criteria for how quickly the animal dies and how consistently the animal dies. So conibear traps style traps or body gripping traps, are they perfect? The answer is no. Sometimes you do get a bad hit, right? You go what’s called a hip catch, where the squirrel will be alive when you when you arrive. And so, you know, I just want to tell you the truth here. This is the reality of it. So this. So if you’re telling your client, oh, don’t worry about it. The squirrel will be dead. It will be lovo, blah. Well, the answer is majority of the time. That’s exactly the right score. Will be dead in dead. Very real. Relatively quickly. Not instantly.
But relatively quickly. And so most of the time, the animal, the squirrel, be dead when you arrive, but there will be exceptions to that and you need to be aware of that. All right. So you need to be prepared to have either a bucket of water handy or a gas chamber to finish that squirrel off because you want to be respectful and realize that, hey, yeah, the squirrel was pest. It was bothering people. We need to remove it, but we still need to respect. It is still in it is still a creature that deserves our respect. We need to kill it responsibly. Right.
So what I’m saying is with this trap is that When it hits, that strikes well, it will kill the squirrel relatively quickly, and typically the standards are that the squirrel goes into unconsciousness. I believe within three minutes you may say, wow, three minutes, Steve. That’s a long time. Hey.
Talking about the difference between humane dispatch and euthanasia.
Some traps don’t even make that limit, right. So it’s not euthanasia. Those of you want to go back and listen to an earlier podcast. Ament Talking about the difference between humane dispatch and euthanasia. This is why these concepts matter, folks. OK. I know that some people’s eyes were probably glazing over when I was talking about it before. But these concepts matter. All right. Which is why I pound the table so hard about them. We need to use correct language. But when we have humane dispatch, the animal still suffers. Yet still experiences pain. Still experience the suffering, but it dies quickly. Let me give you a counter example. And again, I’m not bashing conibear traps. I like kind of bear traps. But when the researchers did work with the of style traps on raccoons, none of them. Let me repeat that. Not one met.
The humane standard of and I think they went out to over 3 minutes per raccoon to unconsciousness. None of them met the standard. So when a trap does meet this in, what does meet the standard for a particular animal?
That’s awesome. And we need to embrace that and we need to encourage. Trap manufacturers because it’s expensive, folks. Right. This costs money. Right. It costs time. It costs money. It causes design issues. But not every trap has been put through the rigors of this. And we want to encourage this. We want to improve our industry, not just simply get into an attitude that says, oh, I don’t what do I care about the squirrel weather suffering? You know, I don’t want to be spending a million dollars to stop the squirrels suffering.
But if I have to spend an extra nickel to reduce that squirrel suffering and all the other squirrels are going to be trapping, is it really a big deal? Is that worth it? I think it’s worth it. Right. So I think there’s a balance between those people who just don’t care about animals at all. They don’t care if they’re suffering at all. And they really kind of, you know, they go home and kick the dog and kick the kids and doesn’t matter what, you know, whether someone suffers their will. And then the other extreme is, you know, every animal, if we are if it suffers at all that we can’t do, it needs want to ban everything. And I’m like, no, no, no. There needs to be a recognition, an some animals, not a human.
But if we can do something to reduce the suffering of that animal or kill it more quickly, kill it more responsibly, then that’s a good thing. And we need to embrace that. That’s that’s my point. The tube trap has met. That’s let’s talk about the use of the tube trap. When I used it in the field, I typically baited the trap.
So you can take a bungee cord and hook it, put it on the gutter, hook it in between the the spy, the gutter spikes. We’d put one hook on one gutter spike, put that cord through the trap, hook it onto another gutter spike. And then I would take a cloth or some hardware cloth, wrap it around the trigger and then smear all that with some peanut butter. Some wildlife control operators would smear the bait on the top on the inside top of the circular trap of the tube trap. And the idea was when the squirrel would stop, stand there, reach up, grab the bait on the ceiling. And then when he put his feet down, it would hit the tread, would hit the trigger, causing the trap to fire. Whichever way you want to do it, you know, experiment. Find out what works for you. You want it, you’ll find that the trap works really well. Do people use it as a blind set? And the answer is yes. I tended not to go that direction, but there have been people in the industry who have been successful using it. What they found, however, is that they that the opening for the squirrel to run through was a little bit too large, particularly they would jump over the trigger.
So what they would do is they would take a little block of wood and secure it to the ceiling of the trap above the trigger to sort of slow that squirrel down, to get that squirrel to put his feet on the trigger. When you purchase one, it’ll make sense when you when you see that. And they would be successful catching it. Now, what happens when the squirrels cotton? There’s a good hit. All’s you’re seeing is the baby. It’s about three inches of tail out the end of the trap. Now, that’s a problem for your clients. If you want that trap to be completely sort of hidden from the public, that what it’s doing simply extend those tubes out several inches so that if the squirrels caught the tail, won’t show to the street. And what you’ll be looking for is whether the bar is horizontal to the ground or whether it’s vertical to the ground at a 90 degree angle. And that’ll tell you whether it fired or not.
Now, there’s going to be some holes drilled through the ends of the trap, like what are those holes for where those were holes or four screws that allow you to screw the trap to walls, make it vertical like I’ve been talking about using the trap at a horizontal place. But you can like on the surface of a of a gutter, but you can actually screw them to walls. A solicitor, you have squirrels climbing the side of the building. Well, you can just simply screw the trap in parallel to that corner and hope that the squirrel just climbs through the trap. Some people take two screws and they will put it so that this that they will still let the squirrel climb the wall, but they will have the trap horizontal. And if you put two screws in the end, you can actually hold the trap horizontal from one end because it’s stiff, right? It’s made out of metal.
Now there is a a a non rusting version of the trap in the sense that it’s made out of a very it’s kind of like a plastic.
I’d never used one of those, but it is cool, particularly when you think about living in cold weather and you’re touching a cold metal metal trap. But I would you know, I would just get the metal ones. There are some that are now powder coated. So there’s some. Options there. I would just simply by want by them and then paint them. So I would paint them either black or some sort of a dark brown so that they’re more rust resistant but also less visible to the public. And if you have one client to be able to check your trap, simply take some fluorescent orange ribbon and attach it to the Straker bar and tell them, look, when it’s what it’s here. Don’t call him. Call me and tell me it’s not sprung when it’s here, when it’s vertical. That know that the trap has been fired. So the beauty of that particular trap is the squirrel typically be dead when you arrive. And again, it has met various humane, lethal control, lethal traps, standards both in Canada and in the UK. We don’t have those standards in the United States. I would love to see some standards. I would love to see the industry begin to adopt some of those standards that have been used in other countries just to sort of see that we can see the technology improve, because I do think we’re at a point where we can use better kill traps that have a more effective role in killing and killing quickly for humane dispatch. So those are your options. Let’s talk about bait briefly.
Peanut butter, of course, is a go to bait. You can always consider mixing peanut butter in with some molasses. You can think about mixing it in with some oats.
You can mix it in with some oil, sunflower seeds or some other type of bird seed. Just always be cognizant when you’re using some of those seed elements to it that the danger of catching birds. And you want to be very careful of that.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating again. Hey, guys, don’t pull out the Skippy jar in front of your clients. Please don’t do that. Why? Because it diminishes the value of what you’re bringing to the table.
You say, well, Steven, I’m lying to the client. No, you’re not lying to the client. You’re lying to the client. If you tell them it’s not peanut butter. When a client ask you what’s in there, you don’t necessarily have to tell him. You can ask your client if necessary. If there’s peanut butter allergies, some people are highly allergic to peanut butter. But again, you’re not using it inside the house. So you need to decide about how you’re going to move forward with that. Peanut butter is not the only bait available. But imagine how you would feel when the analogy I used is when someone, an electrician, that you hire the electrician. I’m having trouble with my with my light. And it doesn’t seem to be working. And your electrician comes out and bends over any plugs, plugs the light in and turns it on and then says, Yeah. Eighty five dollars, please. How would you feel? You may say, well, he’s a professional and I made a mistake. Yes. It’s the same way when you pull out that Skippy jar, you’re telling the client. Yeah. They could have done this themselves, you idiot. It’s just not respectful. The reality is, is there’s more to it than just simply pulling out a Skippy jar. There’s trap placement. There is the equipment. It’s the proficiency of doing the work. It’s the latter work you’re being for. Wildlife control is not rocket science, but there is a skill, there is a discipline to it and something that a lot of people don’t want to do for a variety of reasons. So don’t insult your clients. So what do you do? You can put some green.
Food coloring into the into the bay to kind of mix it up if you’re using molasses in with your bait. That will certainly change the color and texture. Let the customer guess who cares? There’s also a variety of other professional baits on the market that you can certainly use or give you a quick chance to to change things up a little bit for your work. And you need to have a few baits. You know, you don’t have to have 50 baits. Sometimes it can be a little a little crazy like people fishing, right.
They have to have 50 laws to catch the catch the bass. And so it can kind of get that way. You don’t really need to do it. You need to be having a few options of working forward. Working for two that sometimes, you know, and then when using blindsides, remember, you’re not using bait at all. Right. So I hope you’ll find this helpful with those particular traps that’s run down through them quite quickly. Talk about the tube trap from wildlife control supplies. We talked about the 7 by 7 by 24 trap, which is really for skunks. But you can catch the grey squirrels and fox squirrels with it. But I certainly would recommend if you’re starting off in the business or running to find a trap that will reduce the space requirements. I like the 18 five by five and some people have been using other traps that are five by five by 10. The wildlife control supplies SHORTIE and they’re certainly, as you might want to play a little bit, but I. I think you’ll be very happy with the 18 five by five. I certainly was when I when someone turned me on to it. And of course, I love the tube trap because it killed the squirrel for me until the state that I lived in banned that piece of equipment. Hopefully you’ll be organized with other wildlife control operators in your state and you won’t let that happen to you. Are you organized? That’s a topic for another podcast. Hope you found this helpful. We’ll talk a baby some more about some other techniques for controlling tree squirrels. I’m Stephen Vantassel for Wildlife Control Consultant. Hey, love to hear from you about what some ideas that you want me to talk about. I’m still working a little bit on tree skills, but I haven’t heard anything else in a while, so. Otherwise, I’ll talk about what I want to talk about. That may not be what you want to hear. Love to hear what you’re looking for to meet us up on Facebook.
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE
Lewistown, MT 59457
402-489-1042 Mtn Time
Helping people responsibly and effectively resolve wildlife conflicts by teaching, writing, research & consultation