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Trapping furbearing animals was once a full-time occupation. Today, regulated trapping is an important tool for managing our nation's natural resources.

  • Trapping helps control animal populations by minimizing starvation, reducing spread of disease, and controlling habitat damage or destruction.
  • Trapping helps protect personal property by preventing or decreasing:
    • Flooding caused by beaver dams
    • Damage to homes, trees, gardens, and agricultural crops
    • Killing of livestock or pets
  • Trapping protects certain endangered or threatened species from predatory furbearers.

Trapper’s Code of Ethics

When used properly, trapping can be an alternative method to hunting for harvesting furbearers and an effective tool for wildlife management. Trappers should learn about the type of traps appropriate for the animal they're seeking and follow the trapper's code of ethics:

  • Obtain the landowner's permission.
  • Avoid setting traps in areas where domestic animals may be caught.
  • Set traps to capture the target animal in the most humane way possible.
  • Check traps at least once every 24 hours, preferably in the early morning.
  • Record trap locations accurately.
  • Identify all traps with waterproof name and address tags.
  • Use as much of the animal as possible. Dispose of animal carcasses properly.
  • Make an effort to trap only the surplus animals from each habitat.
  • Assist landowners who are having damage problems with wildlife.
  • Dispatch trapped furbearers in a humane manner.
  • Obtain all required licenses, tags, and permits. Because trapping laws vary by state, check the state's regulations before you go trapping.

Types of Traps

Traps can be set either on land or in or near the water. Some types of traps are designed to kill the trapped animal, and others are designed to capture the animal alive and unharmed (live-restraining devices).

  • The most common type of killing devices are bodygrip traps.
  • Live-restraining devices include foothold traps, enclosed foothold devices, cage traps, and some types of cable devices. With these traps, you are able to release non-target animals.
  • Some furbearers are found more often in or near water. For these animals, trappers use submersion trapping systems, which hold the animal underwater until it dies.
Bodygrip trap

Bodygrip traps catch the animal's entire body.

Foothold trap

Foothold traps catch the animal when it steps on the trap.

Snare restraint or cable device

Snares or cable devices use a loop of cable to catch a furbearer by the neck, body, or leg.

Box trap

Cage (box) traps come in different lengths and have doors that vary in size.

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