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Very Hot Topic (More than 100 Replies) stoat trapping notes. (Read 91613 times)
chris
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stoat trapping notes.
Aug 27th, 2008 at 5:32am
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bushbug asked me for some info on stoat trapping and i thought a few here might find it interesting.

notes on mustelid trapping.
These notes relate to trapping mustelids (stoats, ferrets, weasels) but can also apply to wild cats. They are methods that I use and work ok for me but itís a learning curve and every trapper will have their own methods and secret tricks that they use.
Mustelids are challenging to trap as they have very large ranges and travel around a lot, a very cunning and intelligent predator that can utilise nearly every type of habitat.
They are fast, can climb well, swim and are very happy down burrows, they will attack prey much bigger than them selves and its believed they also kill for sport.
There are all sorts of traps on the market, I have fen traps and they work well, I havnt tried any other types of mustelid traps and there may be better ones but the fens seem popular. The trap is set in a timber tunnel about 800 long made from aprox 250x20 pine. These are quite heavy but Iím trapping my own property mainly so donít move them very far, if you were needing to be mobile I would design lighter tunnels. As long as thereís plenty of room for the trap to go off unhindered any tunnel will do. You can close off one end of the tunnel if you want to use one trap per tunnel or leave both ends open if you are using two traps per tunnel, I prefer two traps per tunnel with the bait in the middle. Try to keep as much human scent of your traps and tunnels as possable, use vege oil of lard to grease them every now and again, but only touch them if you need to. I can check mine from 5mtrs away by getting down and looking through the tunnel, and because I use eggs for bait I donít have to change it that often so I only go near them to take out kills and reset.
A bit of thought about were you set your traps will make a big difference to your catch rates. I have found that natural edges are a good spot, creek edges, tracks, roads, bush edges, gorse/grass edges etc, stoats seem to follow these quite a bit. If you can find a spot were two or more of these natural features meet, say a creek meeting a track, or a fence line between scrub and grass etc thatís a good place to start. Areas were birds congregate are an obvious choice, to give you an idea, my best trap site is a fence line running between native bush and an overgrown track and 5yr old pines, its north facing and heaps of birds hang out along that edge in the mornings. It has been a consistent catcher for a couple of years now. Mustelids also prefer to travel under cover, a trap set on open grass land will be less attractive to them than one inside a scrub edge for instance. So once you have got your traps together and decided on a location, how you set your traps is the next thing that will up your catch rate. Imagine how the stoat will approach your trap and make it easy for him. Keep it hidden, especially from above, but obvious at his level. Heres a few photos to show how i do it.
This is a new site im trying as this traps site got flooded, its along a bush edge fence line with a small creek in the flax. I carry a machete and scrape the ground cover from the site

The traps have been dug in so that the foot plate can drop easily and the jaws are clear of sticks etc, the floor plate is roughly level with the ground.

The sticks are called ďhazingĒ, they direct the stoat to run directly over the foot plate and set off the trap.
I have baited with a hens egg in a small nest to make it as natural as possible, fresh rabbit is very good, fish, smoked fish or fresh meat will all work but they must be kept fresh. I like eggs because they are a natural food that stoats love and they last well in the trap so you donít have to touch them all the time to rebait. A light dusting of loose soil or light leaf litter helps hide the traps and your scent. Make sure you have had the safety latch on your traps throughout all this so you donít end up getting caught! While its still on lightly tap the trap mechanism to set it quite fine, a weasels weight has to set it off. Make sure you remove the safety catch and then place the tunnel carefully over the traps with an even distance at both entrances to the each trap.

After you have made sure that the tunnel is sitting right and the trap jaws are free to close scrape the entrance down to soil at each end, stoats will always investigate freshly disturbed soil. Cover with a bit of natural leaf litter and see how you go.


Give the traps a couple of weeks and keep moving them around until you have each trap in a good position. They will usually catch better once they have caught once, I think the tunnels etc get a bit of stoat smell to them so the next victim is more likely to enter the tunnel.
The reason I like two traps is this,

This trap was forgotten about after being reset in a new location prior to winter, it has one end closed off with one trap inside. It caught a stoat, skeleton still in trap, but notice that the egg has been eaten so a second visitor had been missed.

This trap had both ends open and two traps inside. I had missed this one as well so hadnít checked it since April, two stoat skeletons in the traps.

This is the position of my most consistent catch site, this is yet to be covered up but shows you the sunny edge that the stoats like. It has two traps in it. I reset it with fresh bait and came back a couple of days later, it had a bush rat in one trap and a stoat in the other, I suspect the rat was caught first and also helped attract the stoat.

Rat

Stoat.
ive been pretty slack in getting round the traps with all the rain, mud, feeding hay, calving and work, its good to check them weekly, well maintained traps will catch more, simple as that.
kawhia had a great idea of dragging an old fish along a fence line and setting the traps on that, very good idea that i will try this summer, also traps is a very successfull trapper, the extra work he puts into having good natural sets definatly pays off.
you will probably catch all sorts, rats, hedge hogs, possums, cats, blackbirds, mice, i even caught a bloody tui!! stoats are by far the most common mustelid and are blamed for killing up to 90% of kiwi chicks each year. theese little buggers are a real problem and a major predator,so any one you catch is a job well done!
Good luck and enjoy your trapping! Its very satisfying.


  
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chris
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #1 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 3:47am
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well i checked the traps for the first time since resetting, the one i put in the new spot was the only one to catch and caught the biggest male stoat ive ever caught, a bloody monster of a thing!! hate to think how many kills hes made and litters hes sired in his time, not any more though!! Wink

note how the "hazing" sticks have meant that he runs directly on the trip plate.

resulting in him activating the trap and being well and truely caught! no more kills for this one, this is unusually large for stoats in my area so im real happy to have caught him.

ollie the boarder terrier gave him a chew just to make sure he was dead!! Roll Eyes
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #2 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 7:54am
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That's a really good post, Chris.  You've been much more successful with stoats than I have over the years.  I've got a bit lazy, so I guess that is the key.  Other readers, learn from my mistake:  the first two years on my Wairarapa patch I caught 14 ferrets, 24 wild cats, plenty of rats & only 2 stoats.  I used 4 box traps with guillotine fronts.  I used to service them faithfully.  Now 18 years later, I use 6 fen traps, hardly ever go near them, so catch f**  all.  It gets down to individual keenness, & from Chris's post, individual understanding & skill.
  

The fraternity of shooters is rather like the fraternity of blind men -- each one walks alone.&&: Ian Niall.
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #3 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 8:07am
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very interesting
cheers
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #4 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 9:19pm
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Nice Effort Chris.

Eggs are a great bait for stoats particularly if you can't get round your traps as quickly as you'd like.
I've had good results with fresh rabbit, with the skin on, though its only good for a couple of days in the summer.
From December onwards all the young stoats will be coming out, so checking and clearing your traps as often as possible will maximise your catch rate.
  

Keep the wind in your face and your freezer full.
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chris
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #5 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 9:26pm
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yes fresh rabbit is no1 bait wise but must be fresh, in northland that meens almost dayly checks so i go for eggs, good advise re december, i will be going hard then to catch the young ones. young females are more often than not fertilised by the father prior to leaving the nest so they leave with a belly full of babys!!
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #6 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 10:38pm
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How many have you nailed so far?
  

Keep the wind in your face and your freezer full.
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #7 - Aug 28th, 2008 at 10:57pm
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now is the time to be hitting the preditors, any female killed now is gold.
  
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chris
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #8 - Aug 29th, 2008 at 12:04am
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probably around 30 or 40 over the last 2 or 3 years just off my place, surprising how many there are around. always love getting those females kawhia, i figure its about ten stoats worth to kill a female!
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #9 - Aug 29th, 2008 at 5:02am
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I have heard you can use boiled eggs in the traps as saves on breakages during transportation and as a club have recently got a grant to purchase traps from Enviroment Waikato and i believe there are other places to get funding from for this type of work
  

The kill is not the bottom line reason for the hunt, but it cannot be removed from the equation
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chris
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #10 - Aug 30th, 2008 at 2:31am
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yeagh i cant see why boiled eggs wouldnt work, i just carry the eggs in the egg carton in a small day pack. pays to carry a .22 as well, you never know when you will get a crack at a stoat or cat. ive heard you can get a mustelid paste for bait/lure in traps, havnt seen it but heard about it somewere. also thought about tanning some rabbit skins and using pieces as a lure in the trap, i think the scent would leave the skin to quickly. i applied for funding through the northland enviroment grant for fencing off bush, they pay 50% of all the costs which can include your time and ongoing maitenance, im sure they would also pay for traps if i applied, they have a grant each year. dukshutr, if your wanting to catch cats as well, try a cage trap baited with "catnip", just put the catnip in a bit of nylon stocking and firmly tie it to the bait hook, cats go totally doolally on it, i use that at my pheasant release sites for a few weeks prior to letting the birds go, works a treat.
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #11 - Aug 31st, 2008 at 11:19am
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Cool! Thanks Chris, can't wait ta get into it, very very helpful info!!!! Cool Cool Cool
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #12 - Sep 1st, 2008 at 1:11am
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How many traps are you running Chris for the acerage you are covering ?? Am looking to start trapping 600 acres and need to know how many traps/tunnels i will need
  

The kill is not the bottom line reason for the hunt, but it cannot be removed from the equation
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chris
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #13 - Sep 1st, 2008 at 7:08am
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im running 5 tunnels, 1 trap in 2 and 2 traps in 3, on 50 acres, i have 20 acres of grass so really only trapping 30 acres, i rekon i could use another 3 to 5 tunnels easily and am in the process of making more. im not sure if thats the correct coverage but i think its far better to have what ever traps you have in good positions and serviced regularly, the trap location and quality of your set is what gives you a higher catch, having said that, if i was doing 600 acres it might be better to just have heaps of traps every were and go for really high coverage. one things for sure though, if its in a crap place or has rotten old bait in it, it probably wont catch a thing.
  
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Re: stoat trapping notes.
Reply #14 - Sep 2nd, 2008 at 2:36am
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Have you tried dried rabbit as a bait, have heard it works a treat and can last as long as eggs. My nana and poppa have a dehydrator they use to make dried apricots and fijoas, thought about chucking a rabbit in there but I think I would get odd looks Cheesy... Anyway if rabbit is the best bait it would be worth a try. Where can we buy the traps for cheap, they have them at gun city but probably over priced Roll Eyes. Have also heard wearing rubber gloves to cover the smell and even putting rabbit piss and blood, even watered down in a spray bottle, give the box a quick spray to cover the human smell each time you check it will help improve your catch rate.
  
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