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Trapping: Best Management Practices

If you are interested in wildlife management, you should have a look at a new publication that greatly advances scientific knowledge about trapping. Whether you’re a trapping advocate or foe, this new document is the place for science.

The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies has published a monograph, Best Management Practices for Trapping Furbearers in the United States, which provides a detailed summary of more than two decades of scientific research – the most extensive and intensive mammalian capture evaluation effort ever undertaken.

In summary, the research sets forth best management practices (BMP) based on quantitative measures of animal welfare, capture efficiency, and selectivity, as well as consideration for trap practicality and user safety.

“We present performance data for 84 models of restraining traps (6 cage traps, 68 foothold traps, 9 foot‐encapsulating traps, and 1 power‐activated footsnare) on 19 furbearing species, or 231 trap‐species combinations. We conducted post‐mortem examinations on 8,566 furbearers captured by trappers. Of the 231 trap model‐species combinations tested, we had sufficient data to evaluate 173 combinations, of which about 59% met all BMP criteria.”

But if you’re looking for one-size-fits-all rules, thankfully you won’t find it here. The monograph acknowledges the complexities and nuances involved in making capture decisions in field conditions: “We recommend all metrics be considered when making trap‐selection decisions. Focus on only one metric can lead to unintended negative consequences such as poor animal welfare, ineffective response to threats to human property and safety, impractical trapping regulations, or wasted resources during wildlife research projects.”

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