The spring started off pretty dry around here. Everyone was whining about how dry it was how hot and muggy it is in May. Well you all got your wish, its rained for four days straight, t-storms with torrential rain. As I write this eastern Chittenden County is getting washed off the map. Major state highways and local roads are gone, kaput. The stream in my yard is at flood stage, Arrowhead Lake is full to the seams and the Lamoille River is angry as ever. Glad it’s not trapping season!!!

This time of year trapping is done, unless you take up nuisance trapping. It’s that time of year and the phone is ringing off the hook. The calls usually go something like this “I have a skunk under my deck and it needs to go now!”. I do not believe there is one animal on the planet that causes more hate and discontent then pepe-la phew. As summer wears on the calls turn to woodchucks in the garden, foxes eating dog food off the deck, squirrels in the attic, or the weasel dining on the chickens.

If you are a nuisance trapper this is your busiest time of the year. Just when the regular fur trapping winds sown the nuisance trapping picks up. If you are interested in this type of work all you need to do is call the Fish and Wildlife folks and let them know the area you would like to cover. Then it’s time to sit near the phone with a pad and pen.

Once a nuisance trapper it is your responsibility to learn all the laws that govern this activity. A call to your local warden will usually get you all the answers you need, and it is good to stay in contact with your warden all year as they can be real allies as they realize all you do is helping them out in their jobs.

The first thing you need to do is get a preventative rabies shot. Dealing with toothy critters is an inherently dangerous job. There is no question of how it will happen but when but you can guarantee it will. A slight scratch or worse yet a bite and you will be in trouble. These shots are a little pricey but last a long time and are better than the alternative.

Nest comes the paperwork part i.e. Contract, Insurance or a disclaimer. In this world today there are folks who will try to weasel out of paying for services you provide and a signed contract will help you out in court if that is where you head. The insurance disclaimer will release you from any liability from any unintentional accidents that happen while you are doing your job. Have the contract signed before you start.

Obviously you will need traps and know how to use them. If you are a seasoned trapper or a graduate of the state education course you know what you are doing. Nothing gives a trapper a bad name than someone not knowing what they are doing and catching someone’s cat or dog. Searching the internet will be helpful also. A good site to visit is or read the book Wildlife Removal Handbook which is a wealth of info.

Now it is time to answer the phone. Listen to the problem and try to get as much info as possible, i.e. what is the animal, where is it living, types of damage, time of day it is seen out and about and any other patterns that might make your job easier. Advise the caller when you will be there and what your plans are to remove the critter. Call the warden and advise him of the situation. This is also the best time to tell the folks about what you will do with the critter once you catch.

In Vermont it is law that any animal that might harbor rabies must be destroyed. Taking them to the other side of town and releasing them only spreads disease. If you get caught doing this the warden will visit you and you will go in to the penalty box. Be up front with the caller and explain  that you have to destroy the animal because of diseases that can effect humans. Don’t be surprised that some folks will decline your help because of this fact, it happens frequently. Their tunnel vision does not help them understand that removing their nuisance and moving it to another area makes it someone else’s nuisance.

The next issue is cost. I charge an hourly rate and the time starts when I leave the cabin and ends when I get back. Included in this charge is travel time, setting traps, checking traps, removing and disposing of the animal and clean up time. In some cases simply rent out the trap on a weekly basis and the homeowner does the checking, killing and disposal. Pick up the trap when the job is done. I determined how much to charge after calling a local franchise and found out their rates. Believe me they charge a lot so I charge half of what they get and I get a ton of work. After a few years in the business word of mouth keeps you up to your armpits in calls.

While setting your traps keep safety in mind. You certainly do not want to catch a cat, dog or kid in a trap. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to warn the neighborhood of your activity, not yours. Do not put up signs saying you are trapping as “Jonnie Sneekum” will help himself to your traps and be sure to have in your contract that any destroyed or stolen traps will be added to the bill.

Also while setting traps remember the animal you are trying to capture. When after coons use a fish or sweet smelling bait or oiled sardines. Skunks, anything that smells seems to work , woodchucks love broccoli and cabbage and squirrels love peanuts. Think about what the target animal likes to eat and provide that for lunch. Fox love mice so you can buy ground up mice for bait or make your own.

Once you make a catch it is time for caution. If the animal is caught in a cage trap cover and remove it. Move it to another location for dispatch. If caught in a foot trap the same caution should be taken as every animal comes with disease, claws, teeth, fleas, parasites, etc. Keep your distance and wear gloves and wash frequently.

To dispatch animals I use a 22 caliber handgun. A shot delivered between the eyes and ears usually insures a quick death. The hole will make no difference as summer fur is useless normally.

So there you have it. Sign up, break out the traps and make some extra cash during the down months. As with all things in life you will get out of it what you put into it. The sky is the limit.

Keep your waders patched and your lures in the shed and take a kid outdoors with you. See you on the trap line.