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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cage trap modifications that enhance the capture success of raccoons


Raccoons (Procyon lotor) often are considered a nuisance species in suburban and urban areas, and thus, must be removed. However, raccoons are capable of removing bait from cage traps without being captured and appear to avoid baits that are infested with fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). We modified Tomahawk® cage traps with an extended metal floor that acted as a trip device, hardware cloth wrapped around the back half of traps to reduce the potential of raccoons obtaining bait without entering the traps, and developed a hook upon which to place baits to minimize the probability of fire ants locating the bait. We then compared the proportion of raccoon captures, baits missing, and baits with fire ants between cage traps with and without the modified floor and bait hook. Twenty-five raccoons were caught, 80 baits were stolen, and 108 baits were infested with fire ants during 432 trap-nights. A greater proportion of raccoons were caught in (G=11.7, 3 df, P<0.01) and fewer baits were stolen from (G=11.0, 3 df, P<0.02) cage traps modified with the extended metal floor than without the modification. Traps equipped with hooks were minimally affected by fire ants present on the baits (i.e., 8 of 216 baits; 3.7%), which was much less (G=59.0, 1 df, P<0.0001) than traps without bait hooks (46.3%). Our modifications to cage traps enhanced the capture success of raccoons and should be considered if live-trapping of raccoons is required, especially in areas where fire ants are problematic.

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