Setting Snares for Coyotes

Snaring is the technique of setting a steel-cable loop in an animal’s path to capture it by the neck, body, or leg. Snares usually consist of a 2.5- to 10foot (0.75- to 3.0-m) long piece of galvanized aircraft cable containing a slide lock that forms a loop in the cable (Fig. 31). On short snares, a swivel to prevent twisting and breaking the cable is attached to the end of the cable opposite the loop. On longer snares, swivels can be located near the middle of the cable and at one end.

Snares offer several advantages over steel foothold traps. They are lightweight, compact, simple in function, affected little by weather, easy to set, low in cost, and offer a high degree of human safety. In a south Texas study, snares were 10 times more selective over steel foothold traps for target species of coyotes and bobcats. Snares, however, can be a greater hazard than traps to livestock. Recent research has produced deer stops and break-away or relaxing locks that have significantly improved snare specificity.

Preparation of Snares. New commercial snares and extension cables can be cleaned by boiling each dozen snares in a pan or bucket of water with 4 tablespoons (16 gm) of baking soda for one hour. The snares will turn a dull gray after being removed from this bath and hung up to dry outdoors. Darken snares by boiling them in brown logwood crystals and dye. After boiling, snares should be kept clean of foreign odors. Wear clean gloves when handling and setting snares.

How to Set Snares. Snares designed to capture predators by the neck or leg are set directly in the animal’s path of movement and are held in place using various techniques. One support that works particularly well can be constructed from a 36-inch (0.9-m) piece of 12-gauge galvanized or 9-gauge soft wire. Form a V bend in the support wire, about 4 inches (10 cm) from the end, and drive the wire into the ground with a notched rod (Fig. 32) to prevent the support from moving in the wind. Wrap the snare around the support about three times and hold it in place with a U bend formed in the upper end of the snare support. Bend the snare cable upward slightly, just inside the lock, to ensure that the snare loop is not closed by the wind (Fig. 33).

Snares should be attached to a solid object so that captured animals cannot escape (Fig. 34). A steel 1/2-inch (1.3- cm) diameter rebar, 24 to 30 inches (61 to 72 cm) long (depending on soil hardness), makes a good anchor for coyotes and smaller predators. Attach snares to the rebar with a strong swivel to prevent tangling and breaking. A lead cable that is at least as strong as the snare cable can be used to attach short snares to the rebar stake. Avoid using 9-gauge (0.38-cm) wire or several strands of 14-gauge (0.21-cm) wire to anchor snares to a rebar stake because they may bend back and forth, crystallize, and break. When used for coyotes, snares also can be secured to a dead tree limb that is at least 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and 6 feet (2 m) long.

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