Close up of the raccoon EGG trap.


Humane raccoon trap studied under AVMF grant

Using a special grant from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation for research on alternative trapping, four investigators have found an innovative restraining device for raccoons to be more humane than conventional leghold (more properly called foothold) traps.

The research team arranged for licensed trappers to substitute the device being tested for half the traps they were using in the normal course of their work during the legal trapping season, so that no animals would be trapped exclusively for this project. The one- year field study in Illinois compared the efficiency of the popular No.1 Victor coil-spring foothold trap (Wood- Stream Corporation, Lititz, Pa) with the EGG trap (EGG Trap Co, Wagner, SD) for capturing raccoons along streams. The research team also compared the nature and magnitude of injuries sustained by raccoons captured in the traps. The study was conducted by Dr. Laura Hungerford, University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine; George Hubert, Jr., and Robert Blouett, Illinois Department of Natural Resources; and Gilbert Proulx, PhD, Wildlife Section, Alberta Research Council.

According to the researchers, the traditional steel-jaw foothold trap is popular among trappers because it is versatile, efficient, and allows the release of nontarget animals. In 1992, 86 percent of the traps set for raccoons in the United States were foothold traps. Regardless of the type of foothold trap used, raccoons have a tendency to chew trapped toes or feet.

The EGG trap is an innovative trapping device designed to preclude self-mutilation by raccoons. The trap restrains the captured animal's foot in an oval, plastic casing. The device was designed by Dr. Robert Thompson, a practitioner in Wagner, SD, and president of the EGG Trap Co.

The investigators reported that most raccoons captured in the EGG device suffered only minor injuries, if any at all. The researchers found that the EGG trap "substantially reduced" the frequency of serious and severe injuries in raccoons, compared with the coil-spring trap. They concluded that the EGG is a more humane device for trapping raccoons, under the conditions tested.

Overall performance of the EGG trap was "significantly better" than the coil-spring trap, even though none of the trappers had previously used the EGG trap, the investigators reported. The capture efficiency of the two devices tested was similar on three of the five trap lines sampled, and on two of the traplines, the performance of the EGG trap was "vastly superior."

"We were really excited about how much better the EGG trap was than the traditional foothold-type trap. We think that this will improve humaneness in situations where traps are used and are proud of the part veterinary medicine has played in the design and testing of this alternative restraining device," Dr. Hungerford said.

Dr. Robert Thompson    Wagner Veterinary & Supplies

108 East Ave. S.E., P.O. Box 238 Wagner, S.D. 57380