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Trapping beaver is not an easy task. They are intelligent creatures and may quickly
learn to avoid the traps, if given a choice. For prime pelts, beaver must be harvested
during late December or early January. This already entails hard work and operating under
harsh weather conditions. The only suit- able traps for beaver are No. 4 size foothold
traps (either double longspring, underspring, or coilspring) and 330 Conibears or
similar killer-type traps.
All foothold traps should be secured to insure that the animal drowns quickly. This can
best be accomplished by using a sliding wire lock or weighted trap secured in deep water.
The chain on all foothold traps should be extended by three to four feet. Conibear-type
traps should be well secured to a dry hardwood positioning stake. A beaver captured in a
Conibear may struggle for 6 to 8 minutes. If poorly secured, that can mean a lost beaver
Most beaver sets are made at burrow or lodge openings or scent mounds. Although foothold traps
will work at openings and food caches, the 330 Conibear is the best trap for these two sets. The
opposite holds true for slide and scent mound sets.
Use the single-pole method for securing 330 Conibear-type traps at the entrances to dwellings.
The traps should be set as far as possible into the opening and positioned to prevent the beaver
from swimming around the set. Open spaces around the trap may be filled with properly positioned
sticks. The trap should be tied either to a well-secured stake or strong tree root.
A single-pole bait set is most effective at food caches. Support the trap with a dry hardwood
stake, two inches in diameter and two feet longer than depth of the water beneath the ice.
Secure the trap to the pole and wedge bait on a notched stick between the jaws of the set trap.
Then, anchor the trap chain to a long stick laid across the hole through the ice. This assembly
should be positioned so the trap is at right angles and as near as possible to the edge of the
food cache. The top of the trap should be six inches below the bottom surface of the ice. This
bait set may also be used to advantage along the edge of beaver travel routes under the ice.
A slide set is appropriate beneath the water at the base of the path leading to the beaver's
feeding area. A No. 4 foot- hold trap is placed in 8 to 10 inches of water so the pan of the
trap is 6 to 8 inches to the side of the center of the slide. The trap should either be
weighted and staked in deep water or secured to a drowning slide wire. Conceal the trap with
During open-water periods, a beaver will construct mounds of leaves and mud 12 to 18 inches in
diameter along the shoreline. It then deposits castor, a scented secretion, on the top of the
mounds to mark the edge of its territory. These scent mounds, either natural or man-made,
are good places for sets.
Place a No. 4 foothold trap so the pan of the trap is 6 to 8 inches to the side of the expected
line of approach of the beaver. Insert dry sticks in the bank at an angle to guide the beaver
over the trap. The trap should be weighted and staked in deep water or secured to a drowning
slide wire and concealed with water-soaked leaves.