It’s hard to imagine the trapping world without the conibear, or bodygrip trap. This revolutionary device is an indispensable tool for fur harvesters and animal damage control operators everywhere. It produces quick, effective catches and humane dispatch of animals. It also has its challenges, and must be properly used for the right outcome.
What is a conibear trap?
The conibear trap (a common name for the bodygrip trap) is a humane, quick-killing device that uses a unique set of jaws – metal bars hinged together – that collapse onto an animal’s body as it passes through the trap and sets off the trigger. Before the bodygrip trap, animals were caught in either foothold traps – devices which close around the foot, or snares – cable loops that cinch down on an animal and hold it in place.
How did the Conibear Trap Originate?
Canadian trapper Frank Conibear came up with the invention of the conibear trap in an attempt to make a more humane trap that quickly dispatched animals and held them securely, preventing animal loss and improving welfare. His inspiration for the design was the egg beater. By mimicking the motion of two bars of an egg beater closing together, he designed a trap that used springs to apply tension and squeeze the jaws together. The first prototype, which he made in 1929, was quite crude, but over time it evolved into the modern bodygrip trap commonly used today. By the mid 1950’s, after decades of development, Conibear had a good working trap. In 1959 he sold the rights to the trap, as well as the Conibear name, to the Animal Trap Company in Lititz, PA. These traps are still manufactured today by Oneida Victor.
Conibear’s new trap was so revolutionary that it quickly began to be used widely by trappers throughout North America. Trappers found it much more effective to use a trap that animals would move through rather than step on, if provided quick kills and eliminated animal loss, and was lightweight and easy to carrry. Numerous other trap manufacturers began to make their own versions of the Conibear and its use became so universal that the trap became a household name among fur harvesters.
What is the conibear trap used for?
The conibear, or bodygrip trap, is used to catch and harvest furbearing animals, either to harvest for meat or fur, or to remove animals causing damage to human life and property. Hundreds of thousands of furbearers are caught each year with these traps.
Do conibear traps kill instantly? Are they humane?
Bodygrip or conibear traps are designed to kill the target animal quickly. They are considered one of the most humane traps available. Scientific testing has compared time-to-death upon capture to generally acceptable standards and generally determines these traps to be humane. However, there are many different brands and sizes of bodygrip traps, and it is critical to use the proper type and size of trap to achieve positive results. Older traps with weaker springs, or undersized models, may not achieve these strict standards.
What is the disadvantage to using conibear or bodygrip Traps?
Because they are designed to be a quick killing trap, the disadvantage to using these devices is that you can’t release a nontarget animal alive. With a foothold trap, a nontarget catch can be easily released back into the wild, or a dog or cat can be released and returned to their owner, often with little more than a sore foot. A pet or nontarget caught in a bodygrip trap is likely to be killed in it if not released quickly.
Because bodygrip traps don’t discriminate the species they catch on their own, trappers have to use them wisely and in such a way that avoids the possibility of catching any animal other than the target. Virtually all states and provinces have specific rules that govern where and how these traps can be set in order to avoid these problems. Larger bodygrip traps typically need to be set in or under the water, high up in trees, or enclosed within boxes that do not allow animals like domestic dogs to access them. Other factors like the use of bait and how a trap is placed and configured make a difference as well. Using Best Management Practices can eliminate a lot of problems.
Another potential problem with using conibear traps is that their strength and design can present a safety problem for the person setting them. Be sure to use the proper setting tools and safe practices to use these traps wisely and avoid injury.
Conibear/Bodygrip Trap Sizes for Different Species
The most common types of conibear of bodygrip traps are described below:
Bodygrip traps are still made by the original manufacturer, Oneida Victor, as well as companies like Duke, Bridger, RBG and Belisle. Less common types of conibears include the 155, designed for mink, muskrat, marten and raccoon, the 50 and 60, designed for mink and marten, the 280 for otter and beaver.