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How to Use Snare Traps for Predator Management

March 1, 2023

In the fight to protect one’s property from prowling predators, many different predator management tools have been developed and employed over the years. One such tool at the landowner’s disposal is the classic snare trap. Snare traps have been used for hundreds of years to capture both game and predators alike. In these excerpts from Texas Land Broker, Wayne Dunson’s appearance on the National Land Podcast, Wayne explains how he’s used snare traps on his property to combat growing predator populations in his area.

Using Snare Traps For Predator Management

Mac Christian: There are a number of things that can stress your wildlife population and other prey species, so you do need to get a handle on the predators. How did you arrive at the conclusion to use snare traps versus anything else?

Wayne Dunson: “So, our situation was unique in that we knew where they were coming in and coming out. So we went with the most simple method, and I didn’t have to learn how to do a whole lot.

If I could just figure out how to hang a snare trap, which are really cheap by the way, I should be able to manage these predators. If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy a dozen for not much money. This would be a good idea because every time you catch something in one, they’re more or less ruined.

So I just ordered a couple of dozen of these things and bought all the materials to put those out. And it was a pretty simple approach, snare traps are an easy tool to use.

They’re very effective and don’t cost a lot of money, right? And so entry into that platform was just easy for us, it was simple, low cost, and anybody can do it. That was kind of the thing that worked well for us.”

How many entry points did you find right out of the gate? The, you know, how many traps did you end up putting out?

“A half dozen to start with. So we had six immediately put out.”

Were there areas that you missed or didn’t find when on your initial run around the perimeter?

“Yes, there was and I’ll be honest, there are some places that we don’t have an easy solution for. So even though we put up this new fence, there are some gates that are somewhat elevated and we have a lot of oil and gas activity where we are, and so there are a ton of easements that run through us and they’re all gated.

A snare trap set over a hole

Well, a lot of these gates aren’t flush with the ground. And we can’t just throw logs underneath those gates and expect the people who own those easements to be okay with that every time they open their gate. So there are still a few things that we’ve yet to really shore up to stop all the entry points.

But let’s get real, coyotes are gonna get in one way or the other. We put up a bunch of snares and the next thing you know, they avoid that. There are some pretty savvy coyotes, and I don’t know if they figured out those snare traps or if they just know something’s not right. They’ll just go dig a new hole.”

Alternative Predator Management Options

Right. And that presents an issue too because you can’t really guess where they’re gonna dig a hole and you gotta wait till you see it. Did you consider things like Poison? I’m sure you ran through it, but what was your evaluation of the methods that you used?

“We tried to explore all options. It’s not cost-effective to put a helicopter in the air and ask them to come shoot just what’s on our property because the home range of a coyote typically is going to be bigger than just 320 acres. So we’d almost have to get a group of landowners together to try that technique. 

We looked at poisons. Well, if you want to get into that, there are some issues there where either you need to be licensed to handle the type of chemicals that are going to be used. There are limits to what is legal to be used. The Texas Department of Agriculture will come down really hard on you, and I’ve actually sat in on the presentation where a farmer decided he was going to use a chemical called Temik, which is very common around farms. 

He wanted to put some out and kill some hogs. The problem with that is it persists through the food chain, so then it kills the hogs, it kills the coyotes, it kills the buzzards, it kills everything. What he didn’t account for was that he had a hunter who was shooting those hogs.

He didn’t like that he was paying to hunt someone’s place and the guy was poisoning them. So he turned that guy in and that farmer suffered the consequences. There are some big issues if you get into doing things and you’re not doing them legally.”

We just had an incident in my neighborhood, where there was a big bull elk running through suburbia here in Idaho and they were going to tranquilize it. Well, they were saying that the tranquilizers that they use will stay in an elk’s system for a long time, and that they couldn’t turn it loose on the range right away or else a hunter, could get it and tranq himself.

I was talking to Fish and Game outside my house like, “I don’t think you guys are gonna avoid this.” It’s not like you’re gonna heard an elk out of here, so they ended up having to tranquilize it. But it’s kind of the same thing where you look at an option like that, it’s not just what it does immediately, but it’s how it impacts everything long term and there’s friendly fire all around for something like that. Poison can be a big deal. So that’s why I was curious if you had examined that possibility or gone that route. 

“Yeah, we did look at it for sure and we had a trapper come out, a government trapper that worked for USDA. He just didn’t stick around long enough to really have an impact, and that’s okay. I mean, he’s got a lot of ground to cover. So we did at least explore trying that.

We looked at steel traps too, and I just deployed one for the very first time last week because of a unique situation, that’s developed. Now what we have are coyotes staying on us, they’re not going in and out. They’re not getting caught in our snares, but they’re there. So, I did put out my first steel trap. 

The reason I hadn’t done that was because of my concern for non-target species stepping on that thing. And I just didn’t know enough about it and I didn’t feel comfortable using one either, those things look a little intimidating to a newbie like myself.”

Tips for Setting Snare Traps

“So for instance, my trapping buddy told me that he boils every one of his traps. That’s a very common thing. And then he hangs them outside so they’re not exposed to any type of chemical or any kind of smell. He wants his traps to just smell like pure nature.

I’m not that good and keep them stored in a bucket. I’ve got a bucket with all my trapping tools, but they’re inside a barn and there’s a chainsaw and there are spray rigs. There’s no telling what kind of chemical smells those things are absorbing, but I’m a little bit limited on time.

Once I’ve hung them out, if they don’t get tripped in a fairly quick amount of time, those odors are gonna fade. But I picked up one tool that I learned about snaring. There was a guy who preached about this, and I’ve deployed it myself and it works fantastically, it’s called setting a snare loaded. And you can look that up on YouTube, it’s kind of hard to say it without being able to visually show it.

If you’ve identified a trail where a couple of fences meet or a couple of roads insect and it’s on a field edge or it’s next to a water source, you can identify where there’s a lot of traffic, especially if you find tracks. There’s a way to put a snare up on a support, and it will hold that loop just as if I was suspending it underneath my fence.

And so when you talk about the size of the loop, I use what they call the “Yin Yang.” It’s about a nine to ten-inch hole, stick your thumb and your pinky out like the “hang ten” sign, and that’s the rough way that I measure my loop when I’ve hung it. And when you hang a normal loop on a piece of cable, unless you’re using something pretty rigid, it hangs. It looks like a teardrop or a raindrop hanging. It’s not a perfectly round circle. 

Wayne demonstrates the “Yin Yang” technique

By putting a kink in that piece of metal cable, when you hang that again, it’s perfectly round. So it makes that loop easier for them to get their head through, and it helps improve the odds of actually snaring something.

They just barely tap that loop, they fire off and they’re gonna be hung. And so that increases those odds of having a better success rate. I mean let’s get real, I caught 30 and I didn’t know what I was doing less than two years ago.”

I think you hit it out of the park with what you’re saying about using things like Youtube or running a Google search, you’re taking years off of your learning curve. I mean, imagine how much time it takes to figure out how to bend the cord to make the right loop, or how to get them to open up a little more, or to get it to close faster.

Those kinds of things take years and years of knowledge, and you can consolidate that and then learn from there. You’re just accelerating your learning curve so much faster and those resources are out there.

“For sure. And you know, I’ve picked up on some other tricks because you do worry about scent, even though I have them all and I have all my trapping gear in one particular container. I have some rubber neoprene-type gloves that I used to handle them. At worst I’ll use leather, but I try to use those rubber gloves, right? I don’t want to lay down too much scent.

I’ve got knee pads too! You don’t think about it, but for one it saves you from getting muddy. Those knee pads stay in my trapping equipment and I put those on so when I put my knees on the ground, I’m not leaving scent right there. There are so many little things that you can do.

I’ve actually got some coyote urine because I’m actually trying to target specifically coyotes. So I will spray some pretty high-dollar coyote urine that I’ve bought and I’ll spray it right on the top of the wire where I’ve suspended that snare, right? Even out of curiosity, they may stop and poke their head through just trying to smell around that thing. There are a lot of interesting ways that you can try to improve success.”

If you’d like to learn more about using snare traps for predator management and protecting prey species on your property, listen to Wayne’s full appearance on the National Land Podcast, or contact your local NLR Land Professional for more assistance!

About the Author
National Land Realty specializes in farm, ranch, recreational, timber, country estates, and commercial development properties. We’ve created the world’s best way to buy, sell, lease, and experience land. One seamless hub of knowledge, unprecedented data, and game-changing technology— accessible from anywhere. Our agents offer local expertise, with the support of a national network.