By Travis Birch
We are affected by varmints at our home in town, almost as much as we are by them in our cabin out in the woods. Being people who like to only take what we need from nature, we try to humanly relocate wildlife that finds its way to our attic, shed or garage. My wife and I built several box traps to capture the occasional raccoon or possum, and then take it to another piece of land where the animal will thrive on its own, instead trying to live with us.
The concept is simple with my wife leading the way in the workshop, and my trusted friend Chester minding the door, we built a setup to make relocation simpler. Starting with a top and bottom. We choose our size to be 18” X 24” X 14”. We cut two pieces of plywood, the top at 18”X 24”, the bottom at 18”X 26”. To ensure it would be sturdy to our needs, we cut framing posts out of 2”X 4”s, 14” each. If you want a more lightweight model you can substitute smaller cuts of wood, these sizes suit our immediate needs. All the wood we used is not pressure treated, just basic whitewood.
We use wood screws to attach the studs to the plywood, leaving the excess two inches at the entrance. We attach a small piece of plywood, 8” X 8” with a small hinge. This serves as our lever, and has a small hole drilled into the center to insert a nylon cords. Using ¼” mesh chicken wire mesh, we screw this into the structure on the long sides and on the back end. Use fender washers with the screws to make this a sturdier application. You can also frame it out with wood around the sides to be a little safer for the handler. Cut a door for your trap from the plywood. It should measure 17” X 24”. Cut two more 14” pieces to attach by the entrance. Ideally you have just under an inch between the top, and the newest studs. This will allow you to slide the door up and down with some ease.drill a hole in the door. The drill bit should accommodate a dowel to fit it loosely. Cut a section of nylon rope and run it from the floor lever with a basic knot. Run it through a hole that you drill just above it on the top, and run the cord to the door. Attach the cord to the dowel. Raise the door so it will accommodate the animal you are trying to catch. Drill the hole accordingly, and insert the dowel. The door should be securely raised. Add a couple of handles on the top to move the trap when it is full.
Make sure the cord is taut, and the dowel should come out easy. Bait your trap appropriately, with corn, peanut butter, or a piece of leftover chicken towards the rear of the trap. The plan is for the animal to enter, move towards the food. Engage the lever, and drop the door on itself.
To prevent exciting the captured animal any further, we put a blanket over the trap and move it to the bed of the pickup. We have a special place picked out about 10 miles away that is safe and suitable for the raccoon to live out its life happily. My son points out that the raccoon will probably make its way back to our shed, and that’s okay. If it shows up again, we’ll just reuse the same trap and repeat as necessary.