This year marks twenty years since a Kania trap was approved for use in the UK, but while it’s uptake within the pest control industry has been high, it’s still quite unfamiliar to some gamekeepers. Like the bodygrip family of traps, the Kania is also designed for the wider range of quarry, and the more relaxed rules, of the Canadian and American markets. However, the Kania is a significantly more powerful trap, which delivers a quick, clean kill of even the largest mink and must be one of the most humane mink and squirrel traps available in the UK.
However, it is also quite capable of breaking your hand, and so they should be handled with care. At around £50 each these are unlikely to become a staple of the vermin trap line, but even in small numbers they can be a useful asset to the trapping toolkit.
The 2000 model is the most common, and comes fitted with a rear box covering the spring mechanism, protecting the reverse of the trap and which also serves as a bait holder. Under the Spring Trap Approval Order a suitable tunnel is also required on the entrance of the trap in order to minimise the chances of harming non-target species – particularly woodpeckers – when the trap is used on tree trunks. In the UK it is most commonly used to control grey squirrels and, to a lesser extent, mink. It has the advantage of being easily mounted on trees, posts or walls, so that it is out of reach from the ground – safe from accidents and free from interference.
The trigger is a lightweight wire square, pivoted at one end and positioned across the entrance hole about 700mm inside the trap. The heavily sprung kill bar is held in the set position by a short metal pin; one end is fixed to the framework and the other lodged in a shallow hole on the trigger arm. Any animal entering the trap must push the trigger, releasing the metal pin and so the kill bar. The position of the trigger means that a head or chest strike is almost a certainty. In terms of tuning and tweaking there is nothing that needs to be done to improve the effectiveness of the Kania 2000 trap. However, in their supplied state these traps are a bright and shiny silver colour, making them very noticeable in use. A couple of coats of car spray paint, (dark green, black or brown), can make all the difference and render the traps almost invisible when installed on leafy trees. Painting the mounting board and tunnels in the same colour adds to the effect. I would advise against using house paint though, as the smell lingers for months.
The Kania 2000 does come with a pair of mounting brackets attached to the back of the rear box. These are riveted on and, although fairly sturdy, do not stand up to a lot of rough treatment. In theory, these lugs could be used to fix the trap directly to the tree or wall while the tunnel is attached separately. However, in my experience, it is far easier to permanently attach the trap to a mounting board, to which you can also fix the tunnel. This way, you have a complete and integrated setup which you can simply hang on a nail or hook – much easier to move round from site to site. If the fixing brackets should come off the back of the trap, I simply drill out the rivets and use the same holes to bolt the box directly onto the board. The casing is not that thick though, so remember to use washers on the inside to prevent the bolt head enlarging the hole and pulling through.
The common misconception that you don’t need to use a tunnel is probably because many of the marketing photos are from the USA and Canada, where trapping legislation is more relaxed. In other cases, tunnels have been removed to show how effectively and cleanly a squirrel had been caught. Also, following changes to the STAO in 2012, there may be some circumstances where you don’t need to use a tunnel, but this is not clear and my advice is to use a tunnel in all cases.
What constitutes a tunnel is a whole subject in its own right. The Spring Traps Approval Order does not give specific details on trap tunnels other than that they should be ‘a natural or artificial tunnel which is suitable for minimising the chances of injuring or killing non-target species whilst not compromising the capture and killing of target species.’ In practice, there is a choice between a mesh and a wooden tunnel, both of which have their own merits. Making your own is easy to do, and there are several good commercials one available too.
THE 2500 MODEL
Something which even those familiar with Kanias often don’t realise is that there are two models available, the 2000 and the 2500. Both are approved for use on grey squirrels, mink, stoats, weasels, rats, mice and other small ground vermin.
The 2500 model is potentially the more interesting version, with lots of scope for adapting it into a specialist tool. It’s really nothing more than the spring loaded killing bar, trigger mechanism and supporting framework from the 2000, but without the backbox. So while the 2000 is a closed-ended trap, the 2500 provides an opportunity to create a clear run-through trap. I should clarify that the trap must be built into an enclosed ‘cubby’ or tunnel in order for it to comply with UK law, but it’s how you do that that makes it an opportunity.
I have long held the view that, built into a mesh housing, a Kania 2500 would make an excellent dispatch tool for mink and large squirrels. A large funnel-shaped entrance would allow cage traps of a variety of sizes to be ‘docked’ with the housing and the door raised to allow the animal to ‘escape’ through the 2500. A trap of this power would surely be a humane and error-free method of dispatch of a live catch and, given its approval status, should have a strong legal standing.
More typical trapping applications could include housings to go inside where a predator has been spotted entering a rearing shed, or barn or a loft. We have a Kania 2500 in a purpose-made display housing which we use at shows to demonstrate just how powerful and humane traps have become, and it’s always a crowd pleaser.