So we will deal with some of the kill traps first.
Most people would have seen the good old mouse and rat break back traps. As the traps name suggests this trap is designed to break the back i.e. the neck and kill the target quickly and humanely. They are both similar and only differ in size. Both traps need to be baited and I find peanut butter works best on both traps. Some people think cheese is best or a piece of chocolate but this has its problems as the pest can sometimes grab the bait and are away before the trap springs on them. With peanut butter they have to spend more time with the trap licking or eating there and then and stand a better chance of springing the trap thus getting caught.
Next we come to the fenn traps.
A Fenn trap set and closed in insert.
The MKIV that is used for Rats, Squirrels, Stoats, Weasels,
these traps can be baited but they have to be placed in natural or manmade tunnels. When using these traps I always ensure that the Safety catch is On. If I’m after Rats I will sometimes put peanut butter on the plate making sure the Safety catch is
On at all times until ready for use. Squirrels also eat peanut butter but I have some traps that I have glued whole pieces of dried maize on and these work really well.
All 4 animals I have just mentioned have one very weak point that plays well into the hunter’s lap. They are fascinated with tunnels that they can run through and fenn traps work very well if they (and the tunnel )are buried into banks or are placed against walls and flush with hedges.
Animals see the tunnels and think it is a safe shortcut and bingo, one dead stoat. I have MK IV fenns in tunnels along the sides of my chicken runs and I’m sure gamekeepers have them stationed around the perimeters of the release pens. Like all traps these traps must be checked at least every 24 hours. My traps are not baited and rely on the quarries interest in tunnels and keeping next to the wall for protection.
MKVI Fenn is the same as the MKIV just larger, this is meant for Rabbits, Mink, Stoat but will catch Rats. Like its smaller brother it must be used in tunnels or in the case of Rabbits there warren (i.e. rabbit holes). These traps work well in warrens, find as many rabbit holes as you have traps and carefully place the in the rabbit holes. Set the trap keeping the Safety catch On and place in the hole making sure there is enough room for it to spring. I take a small scraping out of the bottom of the hole so the trap lies flush with the floor of the run but try not to disturb it to much.
A fine sprinkling of soil over the trap helps to conceal it. Stake the traps on a stout peg so they can’t be dragged away by predators (Foxes, Badgers) then release the safety catch, I use a small stick to release the safety catch so keeping my fingers out of the way and the trap is ready. Try to block any holes that don’t have traps in. A number of people struggle with how to get the trap out again without breaking their fingers. Before I take my traps out I tie a piece of string or para cord about three foot long to the eye that you peg it down . Then if the trap has not been sprung I simply un peg, pull on the cord until the trap is out and simply spring it with a stick. It may not seem as professional but I still have all my fingers after 27 years so it works.
When using for Mink there are several different ways with this trap. I like to use them on a raft or along river banks and ditches that run from one pond to another. When called in to control Mink I always have a good look around for their spores , footprints, bits of fur or places they have been eating there kills. You may find fish scales bits of birds left over rabbit bones etc. This is where you need to know your prey and their habits and not just dump traps down willy nilly.
Make sure the problem is Mink as Otters have very similar habits and these animals are protected. Remember the traps need to be set in tunnels and wooden made tunnels are acceptable for this or try to find and old piece of drain or water pipe that your traps will fit in. I place my tunnels and pipes to try and look like short cuts and camouflage them up to make them look as natural as possible. Mink traps can be baited, I use oily fish and keep the bait as fresh as possible but the liver and lungs of a rabbit will work. Again their down fall is they love to run and explore tunnels.
The MKVI is about the biggest legal spring trap that we are allowed to use. Please check your traps regularly and any prey caught and not killed must be despatched quickly and humanely so make sure you have the right tools with you to do this.