Anyone trapping rabbits now to keep spring plants safe?

justaguy2(5)January 10, 2009

Where I live (suburbs) I have noticed that if I trap rabbits during the winter and early spring, there are no breeders to come along and make more that just eat my early spring garden sprouts.

Anyone else try to thin out the rabbit population in the winter/early spring?

I use a hav-a-heart cage trap (live trap) that I bait with dog food. I also have a fenced in back yard and when it snows I can see the tracks the rabbits leave indicating the access points where they squeeze into the backyard. I set up wire snares at these points.

Come spring I generally have no rabbit damage, but there are enough adults elsewhere that breed meaning the following winter I have to trap them all over again. Not a problem since they taste good :)

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heartsease(z4a)

I just started the winter removal ... two went to the wildlife rec yesterday. I have the Havahart traps and place them in the runways with cracked corn sprinkled in. I tried this last winter and it made a huge improvement in rabbit damage in the coming spring.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2009 at 10:33PM
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justaguy2(5)

Has the cracked corn worked well for you, Heartsease? I have tried fresh fruits and veggies, but that doesn't seem to work in the winter where they just freeze right away. I have used alfalfa in the past and it worked well, but it's a few years old now so not attractive to them. I tried dog food last night, but the rabbit ignored it.

What worked for me was a wire snare set at the point he squeezes into the fence (between the gate and the post).

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:42AM
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heartsease(z4a)

I can't really say if they went in after the cracked corn or that it was because the traps were placed in a runway. They do eat the cracked corn under the birdfeeders and since it is easy to sprinkle a little in the cage I figure it can't hurt!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:24PM
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happyday(WI4a)

If you use wire snares you might kill someones pet cat or small dog.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2009 at 3:49PM
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birdiewi(7b)

I may need to get a live trap so I can release them out in the country but I couldn't do the snares :(

I had a family of rabbits in my garden last year at the peak. It was like a jungle out there and I didn't see anything that they damaged. I would just see a flash of fur as they scurried away under the massive foliage of my out of control garden. If they would have come along in the spring, we probably would have had problems though.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 10:50AM
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justaguy2(5)

If you use wire snares you might kill someones pet cat or small dog.

Possible, but not likely. I used to use hav-a-heart traps and then release the rabbits miles away in a farm field. I would still do that except that these traps require bait to attract the rabbits and I have yet to find a bait that works well consistently (below freezing particularly).

In my case I use snares because there are only two places the rabbits can get into my fenced in yard and thus they must pass through the snare. By limiting the snare diameter to 4" it isn't at all likely that a dog or even cat would catch itself by the neck, a leg is more likely.

Even with rabbits whose heads go through the snare they generally do not die from the snare, I have to kill them. The rabbit (animals in general) don't strangle themselves with snares. They feel the snare tighten around them, panic briefly and then resign themselves to the fact they can't escape and just sit there doing nothing.

I have yet to check a snare in the AM and find a dead rabbit. All are healthy enough to be released and survive. I simply choose to eat them rather than release them.

Those who would like to live release rabbits can still use snares. Believe it or not you are very unlikely to even get bit by a wild rabbit. More likely a domesticated pet rabbit would bite (as they have lost some of their fear of humans). A wild rabbit generally will panic as a human approaches and then freezes. At this point you can (and I have) remove the snare from around it's neck and carry it by hand for as long as you like. It won't move or bite or try to escape.

I know this sounds counterintuitive to everything we know about 'wild' animals, but I am telling you prey animals like rabbits simply become immobile in the presence of a human they can't escape from. They just plain don't bite (even if they did they aren't likely to have rabies).

Anyway, I really don't care how one goes about thinning the rabbit herd to protect their gardens, I am just asking who is doing it to keep their spring plants safe.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 5:54PM
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heartsease(z4a)

That's interesting info, justaguy and I have noticed how motionless they are in the Havaharts. I like to trap now to also decrease the winter damage ... they already have trimmed the tops of the spirea. They also like to destroy my pagoda dogwood seedlings and will girdle young trees but worst is they gnaw the blackberries down so that there is no hope for fruit the next summer.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 7:16PM
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Rachel_WI_5(z5WI)

The rabbits do the same thing to my raspberries every winter. In spring there's very little left of the patch. They are eaten down to where the snow covered them. I've often wondered how my parents kept their huge raspberry patch year after year, because in spring the bushes were just as tall as they were in the fall before. They never had any kind of fences either. Maybe they just didn't have rabbits back then. LOL They lived near an open field, so either the rabbits found enough to live on in the field, or maybe living in a more populated area is the problem. I see rabbit tracks all over in the snow, but I never saw any where my parents lived. They probably find all sorts of hiding places in the populated areas.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 10:47PM
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justaguy2(5)

I see rabbit tracks all over in the snow

If you can see their tracks you can get rid of them. Rabbits are creatures of habit. If you see one set of tracks the odds are 1,000,000 rabbits would follow the same path.

Along their path is where you place your traps. Whenever possible place the traps in natural or person made structures which limit the movement of the animal you wish to trap.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 12:00AM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

"If you use wire snares you might kill someones pet cat or small dog"

MOST all jurisdictions have leash laws.. if I am not mistaken.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 12:22PM
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hosta-haven

haven't seen a rabbit in months (last Aug)...ever since the red tailed hawks moved into the woods behind me!

Char

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:50PM
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heartsease(z4a)

I just relocated number five ... and I still see tracks. We do get help from the hawks and owls but the best was when a coyote family moved in for a year. There were no rabbits ... also no woodchucks, raccoons, deer, skunks or other hobby eating varmints. Regretfully, they have moved on ... must have ate everything.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 6:38PM
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maderb(WI. z3/4)

20 cal Pellet Rifle work for me, no torture, clean kill.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 11:49AM
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lpptz5b

My brother also lives in the burbs.He always has problems w/rabbits.When I was young we always had rabbit traps out in winter,instead of buying corn or other stuff use apple cores, they love apples.Rabbits are good eating too.

lp

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 2:02PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

"20 cal Pellet Rifle work for me, no torture, clean kill"

"When I was young we always had rabbit traps out in winter,instead of buying corn or other stuff use apple cores, they love apples.Rabbits are good eating too"

YES... well said both ways. Rabbit IMO is a delicacy. The 17 cal air rifle works well too.. I hear.. :). Use the pointed tip pellets.. better penetration for longer distances.. I hear.. :)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 11:03AM
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maderb(WI. z3/4)

Pointed tip 20 Cal. Pellets I use. 20 Cal. Air rifle is hard hitting!!! Don't know why they got away from the 20 Cal. Air Rifles........ 17 is popular now.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 4:05PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

I've seen one '20' in action.. heck of a nice tool. Waayyy past the 17 in effectiveness.. but I make due with the 17.

Your right too. Lotta air rifle that 20... one that slipped by I guess.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 6:25PM
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heartsease(z4a)

Do these make a lot of noise? Also DH has an air rifle but it was impossible for me to pump ... ? And yes, I am a bunny hater.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 8:46PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

Depends on how much one spends. My 17 is a German made.. the barrel cocks down in one unit... giving one allot of leverage. It's been a long time since I've been around any of the pump up types..so I can't offer any experience there. One must use these tools with discretion and great care.. most local gov's have regs against their use.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 7:09AM
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jackbenny(4/5)

Thanks for the idea. It never occurred to me to trap in winter.

I thought I solved my bunny problem last year by blocking any point of entry around the fence. Well since our recent thaw, I ventured in the back yard. They found a way. Smart pills everywhere, and the buggers had nipped off the buds on my young lilacs! This means war. The live trap has gone out.

I live in the city, so picking the buggers off with a rifle isn't really an option....unless I put up a duck blind so the neighbors can't see me:)

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:41PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

Remember now.. duck hunt'n requires both a federal AND state stamp.... :)

Yes one needs cover.. and a downward angle into the target area. Safety first!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 5:26PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I used the trap for 2 weeks without luck. I ended up buying Rabbit Scram (a granule application) and the buggers seem to have stayed away...I don't see all the turds. They decimated four 3 x 3 Weigelas, ate a bunch of new growth on a new witchhazel, ate up three dwarf lilacs, dwarf artic willows and spirea. Surprised they went for so many varieties. They also hit pretty early in December. Usually they hit in Feb.

He then moved to another section by a burning bush (I don't care about it). I saw the little bugger out my little window at night and sent my dog out. Hopefully he is gone for awhile.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 10:02PM
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ten_yr_plan

we took out over 20 a yr ago, but only a few last yr. I know I'll have a problem this year. They eat everything, Can't wait to eat the one that raids my asparagus, he is in the freezer waiting for the first asparagus to sprout as a side dish. I have to chicken wire all shrubs, vines and bushes each fall. learned that lesson the hard way.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:32AM
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jbat

We have a problem with rabbits in our garden too. We live in a little suburban town outside of Chicago. My wife and I have thought about trapping them and eating them or feeding to our dog. My wife recently switched our dog to a raw food diet which has really helped his allergies. I think live traps are our only option as there are many kids and dogs and cats in the neighborhood. Our yard isn't fenced in. The problem is, we are not sure of the best and most humane way to kill the bugger once we catch him. Any advice on how to dispatch a trapped rabbit?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 10:18AM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

Best method is the pellet gun slug into the brain.. easiest. Some BB guns would work too. Be advised some pellet guns will shoot clean thru the head.. so have a suitable backstop to stop the slug if that happens.

I would not feed raw rabbit meat to your dog... fully cooked only.. same as for humans.

The old fashioned way is to grab the vermin by the hind legs with one hand using a good grip. Place one's foot the the back of the head.. and pull.. removing the head.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2009 at 11:44AM
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jbat

Thanks northerndaylilly. We bought a trap last weekend. I don't have a pellet gun and I don't plan to buy one just to kill trapped rabbits. but if the "step on the head method" isn't effective, I might consider buying one.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2009 at 11:40PM
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northerndaylily(z3b-4a)

Agreed.. I wouldn't buy one just for that purpose either. But a good one has proven a great investment here.. again used with great care. Used to have rabbits running around thick'r you know what. Seldom see a track now........

Sometimes.. one has a local beagle club around. They like to get live ones.. big time. Good way to dispose of with no fuss....most of them will come and get one too.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 4:38PM
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jackbenny(4/5)

So I set out the live trap to catch the little cottontails, and all I've caught so far was a squirrel. I like getting rid of those too, but I would feel better catching a bunny since they nipped a lot of green buds off of my young lilacs this winter.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 11:47AM
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drmbear

I'm moving to attract owls. Seems a good solution in my area.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 4:17PM
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Joe1980(5)

If you own a .22 rifle, look for CB Long rounds; effective and no louder than a staple gun. Also note that relocating animals is technically against the law, not to mention you're handing over your problem to the next guy. Winter is a great time to cull the herd, because it's actually open season, and you're not going to leave behind a nest of helpless young to starve to death. I'm a rabbits in the yard hater, and a rabbits on the dinner table lover, but I do not want to leave a nest full of babies to die a long, miserable death by taking its mother away.

Joe

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:57PM
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Leafhead

I have a definite rabbit presence in my neighborhood.
They caused a lot of damage until I started using shredded Cocoa Hull Mulch. They hate the smell of it, and it smells delicious!! I work a good handful or two into the soil around the roots and spread a bed 1" thick and at least 18" around the plant or plants in question. It really seems to work. The rabbits feed on clover and weeds in the lawn and leave my flowers and veggies alone.
Natural predators, such as foxes and owls, keep their numbers in line.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:47PM
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