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If you use restraining devices, you must be able to kill a trapped furbearer safely and humanely.

  • The best method is to shoot the animal in the head with a .22-caliber firearm. Aim between the eyes and up a little.
  • If the animal has bitten someone or if you have reason to suspect rabies, shoot the animal in the heart instead. Always shoot skunks in the heart; these animals can carry the rabies virus without showing any symptoms.
  • Lay the animal with its head facing downhill if possible. This will allow the animal to bleed out while you remake the set.
  • For the ride home, lay the animal on newspapers.
  • When you use a firearm to dispatch trapped animals, you should know and follow all firearm safety rules.
  • If you are not able to carry a firearm on the trapline, you will have to dispatch animals using a different method. One way is to strike smaller furbearers, such as raccoon, opossum, and fox, at the base of the skull with a heavy wooden or metal tool.

Always decide and plan how you will dispatch animals before setting your traps.

Observe firearm safety rules

Firearms Safety Rules

If you use a firearm to dispatch trapped animals, follow these safety guidelines.

  • Keep the firearm unloaded until you are ready to use it.
  • When you shoot at an animal in a trap, be aware that bullets could ricochet off the trap or nearby rocks. Ask any companions to stand behind you.
  • Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Take only safe shots.
  • Keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times. This is true even if the gun is not loaded.
  • Take a hunter education course to learn more about firearm safety.