Mountain and an old Conibear found at the entrance to a sette the dogs entered.
Let's begin with the most important thing: Conibear traps kill a lot of dogs and cats, and they can take your fingers off.
To repeat: Conibear traps can easily kill a small dog and cat and maim you.
Read that again. Do it once more. Got it? Good!
Now for some knowledge. Did you know that Conibear traps were invented by the animal rights folks as an alternative to the far safer leghold trap?
Conibear traps were first designed by Frank Conibear in the 1950s in Canada, and were the first substantive improvement in traps since the leghold trap was invented in 1823.
The development of this type of trap was paid for by an animal rights group, and the trap was designed to kill very fast. This sure-kill trap design was subsequently approved by the International Humane Society.
Ironically, because this type of trap kills almost instantly, and is very difficulty to release even if you are standing right there when it fires off, this trap is a very serious threat to cats and small dogs which might otherwise be unharmed if entangled in a modern leghold trap or a snare.
In my opinion, a Conibear should only be used in a water set on muskrat (#110 Conibear) or beaver (#330 Conibear) or in a tree set for coon. If you are looking to get rid of a nuisance raccoon, consider a cuff-type trap (sometimes called an egg trap) as there is zero by-catch with these devices.
Having said my peace about Conibear traps, if you have a groundhog problem they are a very good fix, especially if the problem is in a location where there are no cats and small dogs around (do not presume -- know).
The right sized Conibear trap for groundhog is the same used on raccoon and fox -- a #220. The setup is described below, with the trap fixed to a stake right at the burrow entrance.
There is no cheaper source for traps than ebay; just make sure the things are not rusted, have good springs, etc.
A simple dirt den set, as shown above, is very easy with a Conibear, but it is not as safe as it might be.
To improve on safety for small dogs and cats, rig up a "bucket set" or "pipe set" as pictured below.
This is a simple #220 Conibear inside a square plastic bucket or PVC pipe, with slots for the the spring ears, as shown.
For groundhog, cut both ends off the bucket so that the groundhog has to exit his den through the bucket, with the trap close to the dirt side of the hole and dirt mounded up around it to keep the bucket in place, and the light out.
To see how the trap is set up in a round paint bucket (and how safety can further be improved by putting the bucket up a tree if you are trapping raccoon), click here).
If you are trapping anything, you will need a trapping license and your traps need to be tagged, and there may be other restrictions as well, especially on Conibears. See your state wildlife agency or Department of Natural Resources web site for more details. Do it right!
Never trap near a road or path, never use bait with a ground set Conibear, and remember that barns and outbuildings attract cats as well as raccoons and groundhogs.
Since we're in the middle of fox trapping season, those who do not trap but who take dogs out into the woods should know how to get their dogs out of a trap if it comes to that. Click here for simple instructions.
The previous link was cited by The Anchorage Daily News who went on to use it to develop the very nice graphic, below, on how to get your dog out of a Conibear trap. Remember, that if there are no safety catches on the trap itself (there generally are), your shoelaces are a tool that is always with you in the woods!