Modern traps remove raccoons humanely

Raccoons are abundant on the Buckridge. Ladder stand platforms are covered with scat. Tracks litter the mud around the water hole. Anything smelling like food gets ransacked if left out overnight. I nearly stepped on one in the dark outside the cabin door.

I decided it was time to hone my trapping skills developed as a youth and cash in on expected high fur prices. But my traps, like my youth, are long gone. I couldn't find any old traps in the shed.

So I ordered a dozen modern 'coon traps and that was the beginning of an eye opening learning experience. The traps are called egg traps and are designed to catch only raccoons. They are white and made of plastic, look somewhat like an oversized egg and bear little resemblance to the steel jawed monsters I remember as a high school kid trapper.

The raccoon must reach inside a small opening with a front paw and pull on a bait-covered trigger. A spring-loaded clamp holds the paw against two hard nylon posts and the coon is restrained until the trapper arrives. No other animal possesses the dexterity or smarts to get caught.

I made a trial run by setting four traps. Each was baited with a marshmallow smeared with peanut butter. The restraining cable was stapled to a small sapling. A small staple held the trap 12 inches above the ground with the opening pointing outward. A large staple secured the cable end father up the tree. The traps were spaced about 10 yards apart around the water hole.

The next morning I was greeted by two wide-eyed raccoons. Each was sitting comfortably on the ground with one leg held upright. Neither showed symptoms of pain, although neither was happy about being restrained.

I humanely dispatched both. There were no broken bones or cuts on either when I removed them from the traps. Each could have been released alive without injury by restraining them with a landing net or a box with the
trapped foot protruding.

The egg trap is ideal for removing problem raccoons around farm buildings, campgrounds and cabins. They are dog- and cat-proof.

There's no chance of catching a wayward skunk as with live traps. They can be secured, with staples in haymows, chicken coops, attics or any place a raccoon can prowl. The trigger must be pulled to fire the trap, so even a chicken pecking at the bait can't get caught. 

Raccoons are effective predators of ground nesting birds. They also can carry several diseases, including rabies.

Trapping is the most effective means of keeping populations in check.

My trapping adventure continues. I can quickly move and I set the egg trap where I find abundant sign, or I can remove and store them for a few days if I'm not available to check them. It feels right because, like all modern trappers, I'm using humane equipment and methods.

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from the woodlot
By Dick Hall

Dick Hall is a tree farmer, wildlife ecologist and outdoor writer from Oshkosh. He may be reached at Visit for woodlot updates.

This article was published in "The Country Today" on November 23, 2005