Trapping with the KANIA2000 Trap - tips to increase your catch rate (part 2)
Traps need to be stable and inviting because animals do not like to enter something that moves as soon as they put a foot on it. Look carefully at the accompanying photograph and you will see the trap is hung on two nails in the recommended fashion but additionally is stabilised at it’s base by long cable ties pulled around the tree trunk. I sometimes use two ‘penny washers’ and screws to achieve the same end. Simply hang the trap on the nails and screw the washers to the tree so that the bottom lip below the killing bar slips behind them, stopping the trap rocking on a curved surface.
On the ground wire tent pegs pushed through the hanging loops can achieve the same result and in this situation dirt from around the trap spread on the trap floor will further encourage a target to enter and the tunnel you prepare around your trap needs to be similarly inviting, have the entrance restricted against non-targets and if possible be constructed or at least camouflaged using local materials.
Incidentally, when hammering in nails to support a trap spare a thought for the tree and any timber it is set to produce for the future. Often nails don’t even need to go through the bark, and always remove them anyway once trapping is finished. Nails work best at only a slight angle from the tree so that the loops slide down into the angle and the trap cannot be ‘jumped’ off by an enthusiastic squirrel or by the impact of its demise.
Try to set well off the ground, say around 3 metres minimum, at a level where squirrels act reasonably confidently, on a straight trunk well away from side branches which could give access for non-targets, or climbing holds for inquisitive children, or adults come to that. I use a fold-up ladder for this work and there are several suitable versions, one of which is telescopic, on the market. Some keepers simply stand on the roof of a 4WD backed up to the tree. Where possible avoid sets near public footpaths and if there really isn’t an alternative at least set the trap out of sight at the back of the tree. I know what you are doing is legal but why cause un-necessary offence, especially because this can result in people starting to look further afield for other traps you may have put out.
When trapping grey squirrels initially install the trap into position unset, then pre-bait for as long as it takes to get the local grey squirrel population using it as a permanent feeding station by which time they are thoroughly ‘brain washed’ and will feed from the trap over a trapped dead colleague. Peanut butter in a trap is an excellent scent attractant by the way. Without the pre-bait they can be put off entering if they observe a kill. A similar thing can happen with an unstable trap that unexpectedly moves with them in it, a situation which arose on a job I did some years ago and saw the incident happen. A squirrel started to enter a trap I had mounted on a tall fence. The loops were possibly not at the base of the angle and suddenly slipped down with the added weight of the squirrel. It wasn’t much but the trap jumped, spooking the squirrel. That trap was never successful there and eventually I took it down.