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How Trapping Works

Modern Trapping

­Though trap­s can still be as simple as a hole in the ground, they've come a long way since their early days. And while individual commercial fur hunting has declined, people still trap for personal use, whether for fur, meat or to rid themselves of a problem animal.

Today's traps come in literally hundreds of sizes and styles, from collapsible traps to plastic ones, easy set traps to professional ones -- even a padded foot trap for raccoons.

Though foothold traps are often what people think of when they think of trapping, cage traps are becoming more popular - they're the trap of choice if you're planning to catch and release an animal. Modern cage traps are often made of galvanized steel wire mesh so they'll withstand the elements. Cage doors are carefully spring-loaded so they can automatically lock after the animal steps into it. The spring loading also helps it to lock into place quickly, before an animal has a chance to escape. Cages will also include protective sheets underneath the safety handle in order to protect the trapper when he or she goes to retrieve the animal. You can even add wheels for easy transportation. Cage traps are often more expensive than other types of traps, as they can range from less than $50 for rat, chipmunk and squirrel traps to almost $500 for large dog traps [source: Tomahawk Live Trap].

However, although trapping can be a nice outdoor activity -- or a useful one to catch that annoying skunk hanging out on the edge of your property - it's carefully regulated by state departments of natural resources. Check out the next page to learn about trapping laws.