The raccoon is often the most damaging nuisance animal on the homestead. From robbing eggs from nests, killing chickens and rabbits, to eating livestock feed or raiding the sweetcorn patch; the masked bandit causes a good deal of grief to the smallholder. Coons are fairly easy to catch but trapping them around the barnyard poses some problems. Most homesteaders keep barn cats for rodent control and the common baits used for coons also attract barn cats. Here is how we trap coons without catching cats…
Use Cage Type Live Traps
First, around the farm we don’t use the same traps that we use on our fur trapping line. Instead of foot hold traps or body gripping traps, we exclusively use live traps. Doing this means we can release barn cats unharmed if they happen to end up in our trap.
Feed The Cats!
Make sure your barn cats are feed well when you are trapping coons in their home range. A hungry cat will be much more likely to mess up your set.
Use Bait That Is Less Attractive To Cats
This is the Real Secret. Even when using cage type traps, it is important to keep the cats out of the trap so that it is open and working when the coon gets there. On our fur trapline we use sardines, shellfish oil and animal gland lures to catch coons. These are fool proof coon catchers but they are also very attractive to cats. If you use such baits, within minutes after you leave, a cat will get trapped leaving the coon free to wreck havoc on your property. I experimented with many, many baits until I found the greatest cat proof bait there is. Can you guess what it is?
Marshmallows! Coons have a notorious sweet tooth that cats (unless very hungry) don’t seem to have. Marshmallows combine the smell of sugar with the eye appeal of it’s bright white color. We almost never catch barn cats in a set baited with marshmallows. In fact I don’t think that it has happened more than once in the past 10 years. If there is a coon in the area he just can’t resist 3 or 4 marshmallows.