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Traps often require minor adjustments to be most effective. You may need to make some or all of the following adjustments to both new and used traps.

  • On foothold traps, use a file to round off all edges that will touch the animal's leg. Also use a file to square off the end of the dog and the end of the pan notch (where the dog fits). If these ends are rounded, the trap may release too easily.
  • Adjust foothold traps so that the pan and jaws are level when the trap is set. If the pan needs to be raised, bend the frame out. Bend the frame in to lower the pan.
  • On foothold traps, you also should:
    • Replace weak springs.
    • Make sure all parts move easily and are undamaged.
  • You might need to adjust pan tension. This is the amount of weight (or tension) that must be placed on the trap pan to cause the trap to close. Most newer traps have a pan tension adjustment bolt. Tightening this bolt increases tension to prevent small, non-target species from triggering the trap. For example, increase pan tension to two pounds if your target furbearer is fox.
    • To measure pan tension, use a commercial testing device or an object of the correct weight such as a can filled with two pounds of sand (for foxes).
    • Check the pan each time you trap an animal.
  • You also might need to adjust pan throw. This is the distance the pan must drop to trigger the trap. When you increase pan tension, shorten pan throw by filing off the end of the notch where the dog fits.
  • On bodygrip traps, you may need to adjust the trigger.