Body grip traps (also known as Conibear traps) use crushing force to close on any animal who triggers them, potentially inflicting serious injuries and deaths to nontarget wildlife, including domestic pets.
However, diagnosing trap-related injuries may be challenging without knowing all of the surrounding circumstances. One indicator may be jawbone fractures indicating body grip trap use.
What is a body-grip trap?
Body gripping traps are rotating jaw traps used to quickly capture and dispatch small to midsized furbearers. Conibear traps, commonly referred to as nontoothed kill traps, are used for killing mink, muskrat, beaver, raccoons, and other wildlife species that pose nuisance problems on land or underwater. When set off by animals tripping on them they snap shut with bone-crushing force on any animal who trips their jaws and crush the animal with bone crushing force before releasing. Steel-jaw leghold traps can be inhumanely cruel to animals, causing immense suffering and often death. Many animal groups such as the World Veterinary Association and American Animal Hospital Association have condemned steel-jaw leghold traps as inhumane; trapped animals may chew off limbs to escape crushing force of traps, while dying trying to free themselves.
A square-shaped trap features smooth, rotating jaws that open and close by activation of springs on either side. When activated, its jaws compress soft tissues such as those found on raccoon cheeks or beaver paws, cutting off blood flow and restricting respiration, leading to loss of consciousness within 30 seconds and subsequent death soon afterwards (AFWA 2017). A body gripping trap’s forceful closing of its jaws decreases the likelihood of gross lesions to some degree; its Magnum version offers wider gaps so humans can release it without risking accidentally crushing their fingers inadvertently during release from its grip without risking accidental inadvertently crushing their own fingers!
Trap-related injuries are of particular significance when investigating causes of death in forensic casework. In the past, identification methods for trap-related deaths generally relied upon either examination of skeletal fractures in a dead animal or evidence such as number and location of traps set on bodies; but with non-target wildlife and domestic animals increasingly becoming victims of body gripping traps on dry land surfaces requiring diagnostic methods for these injuries to ensure safe analysis, new ways of diagnosing them are required to accurately characterise them.
Although there are various body gripp trap setters on the market, scissor-type setters are by far the most widely utilized by trappers. Resembling heavy-duty caulking guns with long handles and tongs that hook onto each of a trap’s spring eyes, these setters operate by compressing springs via hand squeeze. When opened or set with hands alone.
How do body-grip traps work?
Body gripping traps, also known as Conibear traps, are among the most frequently employed killing devices by trappers. When an animal triggers them, two rotating jaws quickly close around their victim’s neck or chest preventing egress from the trap and killing quickly and humanely. Body gripping traps are most frequently found in water sets for mink, muskrat and beaver, but due to their flat design can also be utilized on land sets for raccoon and cat.
Kill traps are easy and cost-effective solutions for hunting wildlife; when used properly they are also effective and humane; however, like all kill traps they may pose risks to nontarget wildlife such as protected species or domestic pets if used on dry land.
Born Free USA conducted the National Trapping Survey and discovered that most incidents involving legal trapping resulted in nontarget deaths and injuries (NTS) of dogs and cats, with most incidents using body gripping traps causing these outcomes. Unfortunately, data regarding domestic animal bycatch due to body gripping traps are not collected.
To prevent injury, always trap with a partner and be sure to inspect the safety latch before entering any trap. Although unlikely to result in major harm, being prepared just in case is always prudent.
Some trappers employ rope to compress the springs on body-grip traps in emergency situations. Although this method works, it’s not the most efficient means of setting numerous traps at once.
Scissor-type setters on the market can make compressing trap springs much simpler and safer, by hooking their business ends to each of a trap’s spring eyes and then using their long handles as leverage to compress the springs together. They are safer than using your fingers alone and less likely to snag trap wires or debris; plus they don’t require power; convenient tools for on-the-go use!
What are the advantages of body-grip traps?
Body-grip traps are extremely flexible, offering multiple methods for use on both land and underwater environments, vertically or horizontally, as well as in many other configurations. Available in many sizes – from single spring traps with just a single spring to large double spring models that can be intimidating when set, body-grips have become the go-to trap type for certain species due to their versatility.
Body-grip traps may be versatile and popular, yet they’re not ideal in every circumstance. Like all nonselective trap types (including steel-jaw leghold and Conibear traps ), body-grip traps have the potential to injure or kill both their intended targets as well as unintended animals like dogs, cats and endangered and threatened species; furthermore they could injure people when left alone for long periods.
Body-grip traps primarily operate by crushing soft tissues and restricting breathing and blood flow, which can result in serious physical injury. Their jaw gap and low spring strength help limit lesions to bones but still injure and kill animals; furthermore, as they don’t discriminate between different animals they can trap raccoons along with cats in one trap causing similar fates to both species.
Care should always be taken when setting kill-type traps near human habitation, where their potential for by-catch of domestic animals is high. Since 1992, Born Free USA has received reports of 131 kill-type traps injuring domestic animals through kill-type trapping.
Though there are numerous trapping tools on the market, one of the simplest techniques for setting traps involves placing one hand behind a trigger guard and squeezing to compress springs and activate safety catches. You are now ready to set your trap. For optimal body-grip traps made of good quality steel that has been twice tempered to increase spring strength; they should then be galvanized or stainless, constructed using protected welds in order to withstand weather conditions for an improved user experience.
What are the disadvantages of body-grip traps?
Body-grip traps (often referred to as ‘Conibear”) and steel-jaw leghold traps injure millions of furbearers annually in the US. Furthermore, these nonselective devices also affect wildlife species not targeted for their pelts; companion animals; and people.
Body-grip traps have the potential to unintentionally be fatal for animals that accidentally walk into them, but due to their large size they’re less likely to work effectively when set in tight spaces where animals might try to pass through. This could cause it to open without ever capturing an animal that could fit inside it.
Body-grip traps present another disadvantage due to their lethal design, which may kill neighboring pets and livestock as well as wild game animals. This can be particularly problematic for dryland trappers who must place these devices close to civilization or in areas popular among dogs, hikers and joggers for recreation purposes. Trappers can reduce this potential for problems by being selective when applying these devices in wilderness trapping situations away from populated areas.
Trappers looking to increase the selectivity of body-grip traps may use pans that enable animals to step on them instead of pressing against a wire trigger, in order to limit refusals from species like mink and marten that might otherwise resist pressing against a trigger. Although their effectiveness in reducing rejections and other undesirable outcomes is still being studied.
Although improvements have been made within the trap industry, various factors can still hinder its efficiency and selectivity of body-grip traps, including size, quality of welds, location of setting intensity, bait used and lure design and usage. Pans tend to provide less resistance while providing quicker kill locations than triggers do when it comes to humaneness and speed of kills.
While no body-grip trap is perfect, certain manufacturers make products that may make for good choices in certain settings and for certain species of furbearers. Oneida’s MFZTA brand produces some excellent traps; their 110 trap is an ideal introduction into body-grip catching. Duke also provides quality body-grip models of different sizes and configurations.