How Do Traps Work?


Foothold Traps

Foothold traps (also called "leghold" traps) are designed to catch an animal by the foot and restrain it. There are two types of foothold traps: coilspring traps and longspring traps.

It is important to consider the size of the animal and select an appropriately sized foothold trap to use for it. A trap that is too large could grip the animal too high on the leg and cause injury. Always use the smallest trap that will reliably hold the animal. Missouri law limits the size of foothold traps that may be used on land. Check the trapping regulations in Wildlife Code of Missouri for more information.

Foothold traps can be used on land or in the water. In land trapping, foothold traps offer an advantage because they restrain the animal but do not kill it. Non-target animals can be released alive from foothold traps that are set on land, which is important if a domestic animal is caught.

When foothold traps are used in the water, they can be fastened so the captured animal will drown. Foothold traps can be used for any type of animal on land or in the water, and they are also easy to conceal. Some animals, like fox and coyote, are very wary, so foothold traps are a good choice for these animals.

Body-gripping Traps

Body gripping traps, also known as Conibear traps, are the most commonly used killing trap. When an animal triggers a body-gripping trap, two rotating jaws close on the animal’s neck or chest. In Missouri, these traps are generally used in water sets for mink, muskrat, beaver, and otter.

Cable Restraints

Cable restraints function differently than most other trapping devices. Cable restraints are made of multi-strand steel cable. To use a cable restraint, form the cable into a loop and suspend the loop over a trail that the animal is known to use. The animal enters the loop and tightens the cable restraint down on itself. The cable restraint is designed to capture the animal by the neck or body and restrain it like a dog on a leash. Cable restraints are recommended for coyotes and foxes in Missouri.

Cage Traps

Cage traps are sometimes called box traps or live traps. They are used to take animals alive, and the trap is in the shape of a box. The animal enters the box and a door closes behind it. The advantage of cage traps is they do not grip the animal, making release easy. Cage traps can be effective where the likelihood of capturing a domestic animal is high. These traps can be used safely around houses, barns, or other dwellings. One good use for cage traps is removing raccoons, opossums, and skunks from buildings.

However, cage traps are expensive, bulky, and hard to transport. Because of this, they are not practical for everyday trapline use. Some animals, like fox and coyotes, will not readily enter a cage trap.