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BRIDGER FOX SOFTJAW LEGHOLD TRAP
Foxes are another imported feral disaster in Australia. They kill millions of valuable livestock and native animals each year.
This is a legal softjaw trap for live fox, wild dog and feral cat capture. For really large dogs, see our other larger four coil springs trap that will hold Rotweiller-size dogs. For rabbits, see the rabbit leg hold trap.
Using an old-style illegal, serrated jaw leghold trap on any animal can result in a $10,000.00 fine and two years jail in Victoria, more in some other states.
This fox trap has an adjustable pan (foot plate) to set for a heavier animal or a lighter-weight animal. It also has an adjustable screw for pan tension.
The features that make this Oneida Victor trap legal are soft jaw rubber inserts, spring in chain to take the snap out of it when the animal bolts, swivel point in chain to prevent the chain biting into the animal when it moves in circles and the central point of attachment of the chain to the trap.
If this is a first time for using leghold live-capture traps, decide what you are going to do with the trapped animal before trapping begins. The quick and humane way to dispose of a trapped feral animal is a .22 to the head. This is also safer for the trapper as the trapped fox will want to kill you. Do not get within biting range. If you do not have firearms yourself, ask around. Or ask your local vet, RSPCA or council Ranger what to do with trapped foxes before starting. Check traps daily. Unless you are a Neanderthal, leaving live animals in a trap for a long slow death is not how good trapping is done.
Photograph the site of the buried trap so you can relocate it later if it has not been activated. More important when you have multiple traps set.
To get the best results, know your enemy.
Professional doggers who may set 100 of these traps a day, have learned the nature of the fox and prepare accordingly to obtain the best trapping results in the shortest amount of time. Dogs have 150,000 times better sense of smell than humans. Foxes are even better than dogs at picking up a few molecules of scent.
Trappers are likely to boil brand-new traps in plain water, including the rubber jaws, for an hour to get the smell of the factory grease and human handling off. They then let the trap deliberately go rusty so that it does not glint in the sun if uncovered and give the game away for a suspicious and wary fox. The traps are then sealed in a scent-free trap wax or paraffin wax, ready for repeated use.
Unused traps are stored in a wooden box lined with local eucalyptus twigs and leaves found in the area where trapping is to take place so that the traps soak up the scent of local native plants which is a natural scent for the foxes.
Trappers wear jeans that are washed in hot water only, no soap or detergent, as the fox will pick up this chemical scent when the trapper kneels down to set a trap or if a trap brushes against jeans.
Footwear used is just for trapping. If shoes/boots are walked through a petrol station or workshop, they will pick up the scent of petrochemicals and other chemicals. That makes this footwear no good for setting fox traps with. Foxes in the bush are great survivors and are unlikely to go near these man-made scents. Sloshing footwear though cow or sheep manure before setting traps will put the odds in your favour. One shearer customer said he will be wearing his soft leather moccasins to set his traps with.
Foxes are seriously territorial. They will urinate and defecate around what they consider to be their territory boundary to send a message to other foxes (and you) to keep out of their territory. This may be a square kilometer or two. The higher up on something that they do their business means it is a more aggressive signal. Fox droppings usually have a pointy end. When you trap this fox and their scent fades away with weather, there will be another 50 or so looking for territory to take over. Foxes, unfortunately, are here to stay.
Trap site selection
If you release your own dog in the area where there is fox activity, it is likely to pick up the site where the fox does its droppings and then do its business on top. This is about being top dog. This is a good site to set a trap as the fox is likely to come back to re-mark its site.
And/or, if there is a regular trail, on the side that the prevailing wind is blowing from, foxes are likely to mark the upwind side so that their scent will then blow across the trail that other animals are using to send them a message. If there is a tree or a fence post on the upwind side, that can be a good marking post to set your trap, especially if there is a natural vee shape in the ground vegetation leading in towards the tree. If you collect some of your own dogs fresh droppings and place a piece of it behind the trap, the distance between your elbow and the set trap, that scent can draw the fox in and it steps on the trap on the way.
Some people set four to eight traps around the carcass of a dead sheep in a paddock to trap more foxes sooner than if a single trap is used. Foxes are always looking for a meal. It is especially easy for them when a vulnerable ewe is giving birth. Foxes like the rear end to chew out. Even more so when she is having twins. Lamb number one is totally vulnerable to foxes while she is giving birth to lamb number two.
Other trappers hang a bit of meat from a tree branch out of reach of the fox. They have to jump for it and land in the trap.
Some people put a bit of smelly old meat underneath the set trap and the fox will pick up the scent and dig for it.
If there is a spot at a fence line where foxes are coming through regularly, set a trap either side of the run-through.
For urban foxes, keep your pets locked up and set a trap or two around wheelie bins or outside chook sheds where foxes are looking for a meal. Foxes thrive around people. They will know all your habits, when you regularly come and go. The night you leave the chook shed door open is the night they are waiting for.
If you know where the fox den is, that is a likely place to set traps.
Instructions for use
Practice makes perfect. Standing near where you will bury the trap, move the dog (metal latch hinged on the outside edge of the trap) back out of the way. Stand on the two side wings of the trap together to compress the two strong springs. Spread both jaws of the trap open flat while still standing on the side wings. Keep fingers out of range in case your foot slips off the wings.
Put the dog back over the jaw of the trap and push it into the rubber and under the notch on the edge of the pan to hold the jaws open. You can tilt the angle of the pan with the other hand. Push the dog in all the way under the pan for a heavier animal or in part of the way to trap a lighter weight animal. Makes sense when you have the trap.
The trap is now set and can be carried safely by a side wing to the spot you will be burying it.
You can test how much downward pressure on the pan will activate the trap by using a small wooden stick. If it is too much pressure, reset the trap with less of the dog under the pan so it goes off like a hair trigger. Never pull the test stick out of the rubber jaws as this will damage them. Stand on the side wings to compress the springs to release the test stick.
Using a chemical-free mat to kneel on to dig the trap hole, say on a hessian bag, dig a shallow hole deep enough to place the set trap in. Put the soil removed onto a piece of paper to be got rid of somewhere else or used to backfill the hole. Some soils set like concrete after rain. With sand, the water passes straight through.
Place a piece of brown paper bag (avoid newsprint as it has chemical ink scents) over the set trap. Place a layer of sand over the paper, just thick enough to hold the paper in place, so that it all sits at the same height as the surrounding soil. Spread local leaf litter over the top of the sand, except for the bit directly over the pan which is where the fox is likely to put its foot. The trap site should be visually undetectable from what is around it. Cover over the chain on the trap so it cannot be seen. Also cover the wire that the chain is tied to, unless you have staked the chain with a deep tent peg into the soil. If the trap is not anchored well, the trapped animal will run off with it attached to its leg.
Check your traps each morning, as a lot of fox activity is nocturnal, but not all.