Five questions to help you strategically approach wildlife trapping.
The raccoon had been marauding at an office building for days. Our team had set a trap and baited it with sardines, a favorite of raccoons in most circumstances. But we were having zero luck in catching the masked bandit. So one of our team members volunteered to sit at the property for as long as it took to monitor and see if he could gain any clues as to what might improve our success…
This is the type of thing most clients don’t think about when it comes to removing wildlife from their properties. Whether residential or commercial, when it comes to wildlife success, it is not as easy as “set a trap and catch it.” In fact, an effective wildlife management program takes skill and extensive knowledge of wildlife behaviors.
You must approach every wildlife situation with fresh eyes, because every one is different. Location, environment, food and water source, geography, weather — each of these things can influence how an animal, rodent or reptile behaves. As you begin to assess a trapping program, ask yourself these important questions. The answers will often guide you to the best way to handle trapping.
What species is it?
If you don’t know, you must find the answer before you proceed. Look for signs: Paw prints, fur, fecal matter and the food it is eating all can be clues to identifying the animal. Knowing the type of animal you’re up against also can provide you with some key information that can significantly improve your odds of trapping success. Certain wildlife species demonstrate specific behaviors or unique traits that you can use to your advantage in a trapping program.
Where is the activity?
The area the animal is accessing — whether for shelter, breeding or as a food source — can be an indicator of how to begin your capture/trapping program.
What time of year is it?
Most mammal species are having or raising young in the spring. That might mean you will be facing an aggressive mother protecting her young. In some cases, it may be best to pass on trapping until the young have matured, in others it could mean setting multiple traps to catch the mother and the young.
What is the food source?
If the animal is clearly accessing an area to eat something, identifying what it is eating can help you bait traps successfully.
Is the area the animal is disturbing visible to the public?
In some situations, trapping simply may not be the most advantageous option from a public relations perspective for you or your client. In a residential situation, this will be less of an issue, but it can still impact your company’s image. In some situations, trapping still may be an option in evening or late night hours when public visibility is reduced.
If you take a strategic approach with the specific animal in mind, your chances of program success will immediately increase. Remember that trapping may not be the best option, and we should seek to uphold the integrity of the wildlife management profession by pursuing the most humane choice possible.
The infographic at right provides you with a handful of little known behaviors of five types of common problem-causing wildlife. The next time you’re in a sticky situation with trapping one of these pests, try these tried and true tricks to get results. Of course, while these are general behaviors, just like humans, every animal is different. To find the best way to trap an animal, you may need to study its patterns over the course of a few hours or few days.
Which is, of course, where I left off with my raccoon story. Not long into the watch, our ring-tailed critter appeared, went straight for the Dumpster, and came out with the remnants of a McDonald’s lunch someone had tossed. Our specialist called me and told me he was going to expense a Happy Meal. He baited the trap with some burger and fries and a short while later, we had successfully captured the raccoon and he was on his way to a new home…where unfortunately, his fast food meal options might be limited.
The author is vice president, North American Bird Program, The Steritech Group, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.