Trapping Black Bear

Culvert and Barrel Traps. Live trapping black bears in culvert or barrel traps is highly effective and convenient (Fig. 6). Set one or two culvert traps in the area where the bear is causing a problem. Post warning signs on and in the vicinity of the trap. Use baits to lure the bear into the trap. Successful baits include decaying fish, beaver carcasses, livestock offal, fruit, candy, molasses, and honey. When the trap door falls, the bear is safely held without a need for dangerous handling or transfer. Bears can be immobilized, released at another site, or destroyed if necessary. Trapped bears that are released should first be transported at least 50 miles (80 km), preferably across a substantial geographic barrier such as a large river, swamp, or mountain range, and released in a remote area. Remote release mechanisms are highly recommended. Occasionally, food-conditioned bears will repeat their offenses. A problem bear should be released only once. If it causes subsequent problems it should be destroyed.

Foot Snares. The Aldrich-type foot snare (Fig. 7) is used extensively by USDA-APHIS-ADC and state wildlife agency personnel to catch problem bears. This method is safe, when correctly used, and allows for the release of nontarget animals. Bears captured in this manner can be tranquilized, released, translocated, or destroyed. Use baits as described previously to attract bears to foot snare sets.

The tools required for the pipe set are an Aldrich foot snare complete with the spring throw arm, a 9-inch (23-cm) long, 5-inch (13-cm) diameter piece of stove pipe, iron pin, hammer, and shovel. Cut a 1-inch (2.5-cm) slot, 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm) long, down one side of the pipe. Place the pipe in a hole dug 9 inches (23 cm) deep into the ground. Cut a groove in the ground to accommodate the spring throw arm so that the pan will extend through the slot into the center of the pipe. The top of the pipe should be level with the ground surface. Anchor the pipe securely to the ground, where possible, by attaching it to spikes or a stake driven into the ground inside the can. Bears will try to pull the pipe out of the ground if it “gives.” The spring throw arm should be placed with the pan extending into the pipe slot 6 inches (15 cm) down from the top of the pipe. Pack soil around the pipe 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the top. Leave the pipe slot open and the spring uncovered. Loop the cable around the pipe, leaving 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) of slack. Place the cable over the hood on the spring throw arm, then spike the cable to the ground in back of the throw arm. The cable is spiked to keep it flush to the ground so that it will not unkink or spring up prematurely. Cover the cable loop with soil to the top of the pipe. Anchor the cable securely to a tree at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Cover the spring throw arm and pipe slot with grass and leaves. Place a few boughs and some brush around the set to direct the bear into the pipe. The slot in the pipe and the spring throw arm should be at the back of the set. The bear can approach the set from either side or the front. Melt bacon into the bottom of the pipe and drop a small piece in. The bacon should not lie on the pan. Other bait or scent, such as a fish-scented rag, may be used. Place a 15 to 20-pound (6.8- to 9-kg) rock over the top of the pipe. Melt bacon grease on the top of it or rub it on. The rock will serve to prevent humans, birds, nontarget wild animals, and livestock from being caught in the snare.

The bear will approach the set and proceed to lick the grease off the rock. It will then roll the rock from the top of the pipe and try to reach the bait with its mouth. When this fails, it will use a front foot, which will then be caught in the snare. The bear will try to reach the bait first with its mouth and may spring the set if the pan is not placed the required 6 inches (15 cm) below the top of the pipe. Pipe sets are more efficient, more economical, and safer than leghold traps.

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