USING A LIVE ANIMAL TRAP
We live in a rural subdivision and every year will have to deal with nuisance critters getting into our garage and eating all the cat food. It’s quite easy to do because we have a kitty-door in the wall. Our cats will just sit there passively watching a possum, raccoon, or s skunk eat all their food. So I use a live trap to make sure these nocturnal visitors pay the cover charge. And if it happens to be a skunk this process can get difficult. Here’s how I do it…
Now before the ASPCA folks get their knickers all bunched up, I use a live trap. I also use the catch-and-release approach. On the other hand my neighbor down the road uses a live trap but the release part of his process is more like disposal.
TRAPS - It’s really quite simple. I just bought this live cage trap at the local Rural King farm store and set a bowl of cat food inside. Once the animal goes in to eat they will step on a spring loaded trip plate which snaps the door shut behind them. They then finish their meal and are waiting there in the morning for me to take them for a ride. I’ve never caught an animal that did not go ahead and finish the bowl of food. There are other types of traps, but I have found this type to work best for my size and variety of unwanted visitors. I’ve also tried using repellants and things like coyote urine powder but these just wash away and were not that successful… plus they put my own cats into a tizzy.
CAUTIONS - Raccoons are pretty hands-on animal and will try to reach through the cage and wiggle all the catches and levers and handles. Use caution when you pick up the cage and wear gloves to avoid getting scratched. Possums will hiss at you and claw at the ground under the cage expecting to dig their way out. Skunks will obviously do what skunks do to protect themselves so I’ve had to develop a special technique for transporting them and releasing. Also - do not mix up your trap bowl with the bowl your own pets use. Keep them separated to avoid transmitting anything.
SKUNKS - Whenever I find that a skunk is caught in the cage trap, I give them a little longer time to settle down and don’t try to move them right away. They appear to be a fragile animal and if the sun is up and they have sat in the cage until noon, they get really tired and lethargic. Here’s where my special technique comes into play. I take an old bed sheet and holding it in front of me slowly walk up to the cage. Basically I am hiding behind the sheet and not startling the skunk. I then slowly use the sheet to fully cover the whole trap. The skunk cannot see me (or anything else) so they don’t know what to aim at. I then carefully pick up the cage and sheet together and wrapping the sheet fully around the cage put it into the back of my pickup.
DISPOSAL – Every animal (other than my neighbor’s stupid cat) gets to take a ride in the back of my pickup. I will drive 2-3 miles out into the county and let them go into the woods. Raccoons will take off running as soon as the cage opens. Possums just stroll out like “whatever”. With the skunks, I keep the whole cage covered with the sheet and open the door. I then hold the far end of the sheet and slowly pull it until the cage door is visibly open to the skunk which will usually trot right out. The key is to let them only see the one direction which is the opening straight into the woods. The second aspect is to have the sheet ready in your hands to do a quick cover in case the skunk decides to spray. They can spray fairly accurately up to 15 feet or more. Again, if you’ve left the skunk alone for a longer time they are usually pretty docile and just wander off. I did have one skunk that would not leave the cage and actually had to almost fling it out…that was nerve racking.
Last but not least, make sure you do a good job of washing off the cage and yourself as well. Most of these critters are healthy, but they are known to carry some nasty diseases so use caution and clean up properly afterwards.