Since the use of gin traps was made illegal on the 31 July 1958, trap development in the UK has been slow. A new concept in trapping came with the introduction of the Kania 2000 and BMI Bodygrip traps in the early 1990s imported by the Magnum Trap Co. The Kania has since become a formidable weapon in the war against grey squirrels and the Bodygrip trap, though still not as popular as the Fenn-type traps, remains a useful tool for killing a wider range of prey.

More recent innovations have been the Department of Conservation (DOC) traps, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Collarum, WCS tube trap and the Solway 4 and 6 traps. You can also consider the Skinns Superior squirrel trap and VS squirrel trap but they are not readily available in the UK.

DOC Traps

DOC traps were designed for use by the department of conservation in New Zealand and were approved for use in England on 1 October 2007 to catch grey squirrels, rats, stoats and weasels with the intention of replacing Fenn-type traps and meeting the 1997 Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). There were three models of DOC traps that were approved: the DOC 150, DOC 200 and DOC 250 and though they vary in size and power, they are approved for the same species.

The fundamental design is the same in all three DOC trap models. A single grid-shaped moving jaw is powered by springs from a vertical standby position to the horizontal. The trigger is a large treadle plate.

A small secondary spring underneath the treadle plate guards against false trips caused by the repeated passage of small non-target mammals, such as mice, which progressively lowers the treadle until it finally trips. This has been a frequent problem with Fenn-type traps. However, The secondary spring in the DOC trap is designed to restore the treadle?s height after each disturbance by a non-target species. The DOC has to be housed in a tunnel that has been built according to the manufacturer?s specification.

All three models are exceptionally powerful and can cause serious injury to the human hand. The traps are fixed into their tunnels and are easy to set so there is no reason to place your fingers near the treadle plate. DOC traps are not readily available in the UK but if you do get a chance to buy one it is worth adding to your trapping armoury.

The DOC is approved throughout the UK with the DOC 200 being approved to kill mink on 1 October 2009 and the DOC 250 approved to kill mink and rabbits.

WCS Collarum

Since the approval of the Collarum trap on the 1 October 2009 a lot of the initial scepticism about it has proved unfounded and it is now recognised as an effective fox control tool.

The Collarum is not a replacement for traditional snares and never will be as they have a completely different application. The Collarum relies on the fox being drawn into the target area by means of a bait or lure whereas traditional snares are placed on the runs used by travelling foxes. The Collarum is designed to capture a fox by throwing a cable loop over its head and around the neck. The end of the capture loop is anchored in the ground and the fox is held humanely until it can be despatched.

The trap is unique in that the trigger requires a pull action rather than the push mechanism employed by spring traps. The Collarum is a fox capture device, not a sprung-loaded snare.

This trap is much safer to use in areas where people, pets and other domestic animals may come into contact with it. A person setting off the Collarum is not likely to be hurt. Animals other than foxes are unlikely to be caught by this device even if they spring it, and captured dogs can be released with no harm done.

Unlike cage traps, which are large, bulky and difficult to conceal, the Collarum is light, compact and easy to hide. This gives it distinct advantages for pest controllers in high-visibility areas. The Collarum has also proven its worth in capturing foxes that won?t approach a cage trap.

The Collarum is currently being used by pest controllers, wildlife managers, gamekeepers, farmers and smallholders. If you are involved in fox control then the Collarum is worth considering for the next time you need to deal with a fox problem. The WCS Collarum is approved for use only in England and Wales.

WCS tube trap

The WCS tube trap was originally designed in the US for trapping mink and was subsequently approved for use in England on 1 October 2009 after the Magnum Trap Co. worked with its US manufacturer to produce a more powerful and effective variation for the UK market. The trap is approved for the killing of grey squirrels, mink, rats, stoats and weasels.

The tube trap is constructed from a 380mm, 21-gauge steel tube with a diameter of 114mm, powered by a double-torsion spring. All parts are precision cut by laser, so there are no sharp edges to contend with. It has a pale green, plated finish to avoid rusting. The version approved for use in the UK has a considerably more powerful spring than its US counterpart and is additionally fitted with two killing bars inside the tube. The target is therefore struck against these bars instead of being simply crushed against the side of the tunnel. It also has a safety catch. The US version is not approved for use in England and Wales.

When setting the tube trap the pan sensitivity can be varied by adjusting the location of the dog at the back of the pan.

The tube trap can be set on the ground, on a fence or a tree branch. However, when using it on the ground you must make sure that the entrance is restricted to stop the capture of non-target species. Professionally constructed restrictors are available or, alternatively, you can open the holes at the top and bottom of the tube and drop in a couple of 6in nails. The tube trap is rapidly becoming a popular killing trap for grey squirrels but also offers the rat and mink trapper an effective alternative.

Solway 4 and 6 traps

Scottish-based game equipment suppliers Solway Feeders supplies its own versions of the Fenn-type trap named the Solway 4 and Solway 6 and they were approved for use on 1 October 2007. The Solway 4 has been approved for the purpose of killing edible dormice, grey squirrels, mice, rats, stoats and weasels and the Solway 6 has been approved for the purpose of killing the same quarry but also mink and rabbits. The trap quality seems to have improved since they were first made and the power of the trap is better than that of its two stablemates. You will be impressed by the power of the springs in this trap.

If you are a gamekeeper, wildlife manager, pest controller, smallholder or farmer and you use traditional Fenn-type traps it is certainly worth having a look at some of the new versions that are now available to you.