Ian Woods shares the best methods of enticing vermin into your traps, using bait, lure and urine
The use of bait, lure and urine in the UK for trapping and snaring is limited, unlike our friends in the USA and Canada where bait and lure are extensively used during the furbearing season.
Trappers in the US that catch furbearers in the middle of fields and desert have not relied on the target animal accidentally stumbling across their set but have pulled the target animal a great distance into an area no more than eight inches in diameter. There have been some trials run over here, with inconclusive results, but in my opinion – having trapped in the USA myself – the results show how effective this method is.
Although we do not have as many species here in the UK, mink, stoats, weasels, foxes and squirrels are all drawn to bait, lure and urine. Using these three things effectively will increase your catch and help you avoid non-target animals. They can be used alone or in combination to help you trap your target animal, and the more you learn about an animal and its habits, the better you will be at using lures, baits and urine. Scents should match the interests of the animal you are trying to catch.
The use of bait, lure and urine varies by time of year, location and the type of animal you want to catch. The presence of non-target species or domestic animals will also affect your choice. The responsible use of bait, lure and urine can make you more successful catching animals while avoiding problems with non-target animals. Remember, each non-target animal that comes to your set reduces your chances of catching the animal you want.
Baits are used to attract animals to your sets and make them stay longer. Your choice of bait and its placement is based on the target’s food source and eating habits. Baits can be chunks of meat and fish, or plant food such as corn, carrots, and apples. Meat and fish bait may be fresh, tainted, or liquid in form.
Bait must be used carefully to prevent catching non-target wildlife or domestic animals. Pay close attention to trapping laws concerning live bait. Uncovered flesh baits are attractive to hawks and owls which hunt by sight, so lightly covering flesh baits will work for foxes and mustelids because they have a keen sense of smell. Baits such as corn may attract a variety of non-target animals.
“In periods of cold weather, long range fox baits will pull the animals in from quite a distance as they look for an easy meal”
Lures are used to attract animals to your sets from a distance. Lures are classified as gland, food, or curiosity attractants. Gland lures appeal to an animal’s sexual attraction or territorial instincts. Food lures or scents appeal to their desire to eat. Curiosity lures appeal to an animal’s instinct to investigate something unfamiliar. A few feathers scattered around your trap sets or snare line can bring unexpectedly good results.
Food lures are generally most effective in the winter and spring. Gland lures become more important later in the season when the animals are looking for mates. Curiosity lures may work at any time in the season, especially when the animal is not hungry or looking for a mate.
Urine is often used for trapping foxes which, like dogs, mark their territory by urinating on various objects. Urine triggers a territorial response that may encourage a fox to investigate your set.