How to trap animals in a humane way

Take ’em back alive

Set a trap, baited with the animal’s favorite food, on a well-traveled trail or near recent damage. Take a trapped animal to a suitable environment several miles away (or a distance recommended by your state’s wildlife agency) and release it. Not all states permit this transfer without a license; get advice from the wildlife agency and from your local Cooperative Extension Service.


Use a box trap with an entrance at least 9 x 9 inches. Bait the trap with an ear of fresh sweet corn or sweet apple slices. As soon as you have caught the woodchuck, fill in its old holes.


Trap-shy if caught previously, raccoons are canny at stealing bait. Peg down a large box trap (12 x 10 x 32 inches) with a springback door. Bait it with honey mixed with anise oil; place some marshmallows near the bait as a visual attractant. You may have to add hardware screen around the bait end of the trap to prevent a raccoon from stealing bait through the wire. Hose the cage with steam or scrub it with full-strength bleach before reusing or storing it: it may be contaminated by roundworm eggs from droppings.

Caution: Because a raccoon or skunk may be rabid, take extreme care in handling them. Keep pets and children away. If you live in the city or suburbs, contact a humane society for assistance in killing a rabid animal. If you live in a rural area, shooting is the most efficient way to dispose of a diseased pest.


Wrap a heavy-duty garbage bag over all but the entrance of a 9- x 9- x 23-inch box trap baited with sardines or cat food. When you’ve trapped a skunk, slip the rest of the bag around the entrance; stay to the side to avoid being sprayed. Release the skunk as soon as possible.