Use of Snares for Nuisance Wildlife Control

nuisance wildlife control

 Nuisance Wildlife Control : Quick Facts

  • Snaring is an effective technique to capture animals that cause economic damage and for harvesting furbearers.

  • Snares placed in trails or under fences can successfully capture your target species

  • Carefully select sites where snares are set to avoid capturing non-target animals such as deer and domestic animals. Deer stops are required in some states so please check local regulations.

  • Relaxing lock snares are least likely  to harm domestic animals. Research shows that most domestic animals caught in relaxing lock snares were released unharmed.

Nuisance wildlife control is critical in ensuring a healthy wildlife environment. Snaring is a useful technique used by many nuisance wildlife control operators to capture animals that may or have caused economic loss and damage to residential property, such as coyotes that kill livestock and beavers that cut trees or plug irrigation ditches.

Snaring is also popular for harvesting furbearers. Snares are effective for capturing target animals, but may also capture non-target animals such as deer and dogs if used improperly. Nuisance wildlife control can be beneficial but comes with great responsibility.

Snaring is the technique of setting a steel-cable loop in an animal’s movement path to capture the animal by the neck or leg. Snares usually consist of a 2-1/2 to 10-foot long piece of galvanized aircraft cable containing a slide lock that forms a loop in the cable (Figure 1). Attach a swivel, which prevents twisting and breaking of the cable, to the end of the cable opposite the loop.

Snares come in any forms, sizes, various locks types and every trapper has a favorite. You will have to determine which one is best for you. In some cases you may have to adapt to a new style for particular locations of animal type.

In the nuisance wildlife control industry snares have a very beneficial use for us. Snares give us several advantages over steel leghold traps. They are light weight, compact, simple in function, affected little by weather, easy to set, low in cost, and offer a high degree of trapper safety. In a south Texas study, snares were 10 times more selective for target species (coyotes and bobcats) than steel leghold traps. However, snares can be a greater hazard to livestock and some non-target species may be killed.

Snares may not always be the desired tool for wildlife control. Here where I live we have a mix of farmland and more populated cities. We often have coyote problems in both locations. Obviously in the farmlands we can utilize snares but it the city things get a bit more difficult. We have to consider domestic animals, children and the public view. You do not want animal rights activists crying out over a snared animal.

Nuisance Wildlife Control - Snare Basics

Snare Preparation

New commercial snares and extension cables available to the nuisance wildlife control operators can be cleaned by boiling in detergent and hanging outdoors for a few months until they turn a dull gray. Snares also can be changed to a dull gray by boiling each dozen snares in 4 tablespoons of baking soda for one hour. Darker snares can be obtained by boiling in brown logwood crystals and dye. After boiling, keep snares clean of foreign odors. Wear clean gloves when handling and setting snares.

Another favorite method is to gather walnut hulls. Boil the hulls until you have a dark coffee like solution. I like to make mine thick and really dark. Then you can boil your snares in this solution, set it aside and let it cool. Take out the snares and let hang until dry. You may have to repeat this often but it gives them a very dark wood like appearance and they blend very well with natural surroundings.

How to Set Snares

Snares designed to capture furbearers by the neck or leg are set directly in the center of the animal’s movement path. Snares are usually set in an animal’s movement path with one of several different support systems. One support that works particularly well can be constructed from a 36-inch piece of 12-gauge galvanized or 9-gauge soft wire. A “V” bend is made in the support wire about 4 inches from the end and driven into the ground with a notched rod to prevent the support from moving in the wind.

The snare is wrapped around the support about three times and held in place by a “U” configuration formed in the upper end of the snare support. Bend the snare cable upward slightly, just inside the lock, so the snare loop is not closed by the wind (see Figure 1 below).

Attach snares to a solid object so captured animals cannot escape. A steel 1/2-inch diameter rebar, 24 to 30 inches long (depending on soil hardness), makes a good anchor. Attach snares to the rebar with a strong swivel to prevent tangling and breaking. Use a lead cable that is at least as strong as the snare cable to attach short snares to the rebar stake.

Avoid using 9-gauge wire or several strands of 14-gauge wire to anchor snares to a rebar stake because they may bend back and forth, crystallize, and break. When used for beaver, snares also can be secured to a tree that is at least 6 inches in diameter or to the base of a large shrub such as a willow.

If you are snaring an animal that has a lot of pulling or lunge power you may want to consider placing your snare up high on a flexible tree. This will limit the pull they have and the flexibility will reduce lunge power and reduce snare breakage.

Snares set in holes under woven wire fences (Figure 2) is a favorite for nuisance wildlife control operators working farms. The snare should be held in place about 1 to 2 inches from the fence with the snare support system described in Figure 1 or by attaching the support to the fence material itself.. The top of the snare can be as high as 3 inches above the bottom wire of the fence.

Set the snare far enough away from the fence to prevent the lock from catching on the bottom wire of the fence. Hold the snares in place by clipping them to the bottom wire of the fence with a fine U- shaped wire such as a 1 1/2-inch piece of a paper clip that allows the snare to easily release (Figure 2). The bottom of the loop should be about 2 inches above the bottom of the hole or coyotes and foxes may be caught by a front leg. With either of the above snare support systems, anchor the snares to the heavy-gauge wire on the bottom of the fence. The upper wires on a woven wire fence usually are too weak to secure a snare.

Snares occasionally are placed but left unset for one to two weeks. This placement allows trappers to quickly set snares when pelts become prime and reduces human scent at the site. This is not a common practice among nuisance wildlife control operators but may be used on large farm tracts at times. Snares usually are set in the form of a round or oval loop. A round loop that is 12 inches in diameter can form an oval loop that is about 14 inches high and 10 inches wide. The following round loop diameters and heights above ground are recommended when snaring furbearers (Table 1).

cam lock coyote snare

A 5/64- or 3/32-inch diameter galvanized aircraft cable (top left) is recommended for snaring coyotes, beaver, and raccoons. Foxes and bobcats can be captured in 1/16 (top right) or the 3/32-inch-diameter snares. If you are a nuisance wildlife control operator you may wish to check local regulations for 1/16 snares. These are illegal in some states.

Table 1. Fence line Snare Sets
AnimalType of setLoop diameter (inches)Height of loop above ground (bottom of loop) (inches)
CoyoteUnder Fence7-102
CoyoteLeg Snare8-114
FoxLeg Snare8-114
BeaverDen, underwater8-11Cover bottom of loop slightly
BeaverDryland Trail8-112-4
BeaverSlide in water8-11Set bottom of loop 2 inches below water


Where to Set Snares

Animals usually follow the easiest route through heavy cover. These routes, which generally consist of trails, are excellent locations to snare furbearers. As a nuisance wildlife control operator this will be one of your best tactics. Learn how wildlife travels. Specific locations to set snares for individual species follow.


  • Trails to uplands–place in water or on land along the route.
  • Trails over dams–set on top or bottom side of water.
  • Narrow creek passages.
  • Den entrances: Construct a 2- to 3-inch high mound with mud and apply beaver castor. Make a V-shaped fence by placing old branches vertically in the mud. The center of the V should be open. The V should point toward the mound and be located about 1 foot from the mound. Place the snare in the opening with the bottom of the snare about 2 inches below the water.
  • Under ice at lodges and food caches.

Coyotes and Red Foxes

  • Trails leading to a carcass, bone pile, or pond.
  • Trails in the bottom of ravines.
  • Trails under fences.
  • Trails into thickets.
  • Livestock trails in vacant pastures.
  • Narrow paths inside weeds or brush.
  • Trails can be created by driving down weeds or stubble with a pickup or by walking in snow.


  • Culvert — place lure inside.
  • Under bridges.
  • Holes under old buildings.
  • Along river banks next to water.
  • Along top of high banks next to a river.
  • Trail along the top of beaver dams — keep snare up to avoid beaver.
  • Avoid setting under fences and near trees and brush because raccoons can become entangled.

Checking Snares

Check snares regularly. Within any city limits or any areas annexed into a city, most often Division of Wildlife regulations require that snares be checked at least once daily unless mechanical means are provided to kill snared animals. In some cases, snares can be visually checked at least once every other day or unless mechanical means are provided to kill snared animals. It is a good practice to check snares every 24 hours and especially near populated areas. Check them in the early morning hours and late evening. In the event of an accidental domestic catch, you can release them with the least stress on the animal by minimizing the duration of restraint.

Note: As a nuisance wildlife control operator you will most likely be required to check these every 24 hours and it is a good practice to do so. Having a snared animal left for the public to see for any length of time can be devastating to your reputation and business.

Methods to Avoid Capturing Non-target Animals and for avoiding public conflicts or negative image.

Carefully consider the location of your snares. Make all attempts to avoid non target species and domestic animals. As a nuisance wildlife control operator, consider the public view as to what you are doing.

  • Avoid setting snares on public lands where hunting dogs might be captured during the upland game bird seasons.
  • Try to avoid open sets in pastures with livestock. stick to fence sets if doing predator control.
  • Try to avoid setting near a carcass where birds of prey might gather,
  • Avoid setting in trails where deer, elk or big game travel. If you must set these locations use deer stops and break away devices. Attract predators and furbearers away from trails with specific baits and lures.
  • Do not assume a stick will cause deer to jump a snare. It may in fact cause them to duck it and become snared.
  • Do not set snares in a fence crawl where deer, elk, other big game or domestic animals may also use the same spot.
  • Avoid setting snares near residences where dogs may accidentally be captured. Use a short snare cable to reduce injuries where accidentally captured dogs might jump over a fence or tree branch. Also, avoid using entangling devices, which increase the chance of killing an animal, in areas where dogs may be captured.
  • Carry a catch pole to release dogs and other non-target wildlife.
  • Use the lightest snare lock possible or a breakaway device, to capture the desired animal. If deer, elk, and antelope are captured by a leg, they usually can break a light lock or beak away device but may be held by heavy home-made washer locks. Again deer stops are a good idea.
  • Avoid setting snares where people can readily view captured animals. Especially as a nuisance wildlife control operator. The last thing you want is the local news being called about the mad trapper.
  • Place the location and number of snares on a map or use a GPS so that all can be found. This will also save you time and money as a nuisance wildlife control operator.
  • Always tag your snare with your required information as required by local fish and game. This may be your license / permit number or business contact information. Check with your local fish and game for this requirement.
  • Remove all snares at the end of the season, end of the job or when they cannot be checked frequently.

Snares will always remain an important trapping tool and wildlife control device as long as misuse does not become a factor.  Avoid these possible scenarios by always using the minimum required for your target species. Try to keep your snaring location contained to the target animals home range and avoid populated areas. Sometimes an animals range will overlap with the public and domestic animals. Always try to find a way to avoid non target species captures.

Make sure you contact your local wildlife agency to become familiar with your states regulations, again this is critical. The common rule when setting snares is to THINK. Your actions will have an impact on other wildlife and other trappers. You have an obligation to the wildlife and those trappers to always be responsible and represent the tradition and or job in the best possible way.

License Requirements

A furbearer license is required for many species snare badger, gray fox, kit fox, swift fox, beaver, marten, muskrat, mink, ringtail, long-tailed weasel, short-tailed weasel, and bobcat. A small game or furbearer license is required to snare coyote, red fox, raccoon, striped skunk, spotted skunk, hog nosed skunk, or opossum.

Original content credited to NASD Edited and expanded by Snare Trap Survive