Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bailey Beaver Trap*: Modifications Improve Capture Rate

The Bailey Beaver Trap*: Modifications Improve Capture Rate

With misfires reaching as high as 50%, it is little wonder that the Bailey Beaver Trap* has a dismal reputation (Buech, 1983). Fortunately, Richard Buech discovered several modifications that substantially improved the Bailey’s capture efficiency. This paper explains his findings and offers further suggestions to improve the trap’s capture success. The author believes that the Bailey Trap, when properly modified and used, offers the beaver trapper some excellent advantages over other suitcase style traps.
First, Baileys set completely underwater thereby substantially reducing beaver avoidance of the trap. Second, the trap can be employed in blind (sets without using bait) sets by exploiting normal beaver behavior. Third, the trap uses weaker springs making it safer for the trapper to use.

Suggested Trap Modifications in Order of Importance

Install Modified Trigger Locks

Buech discovered that the standard locks occasionally jam, allowing the trapped beaver to pry the jaws open and escape. This problem generally occurs when the jaws don’t meet with sufficient force or simultaneously at the proper point.
Buech developed a lock that essentially eliminated the jamming problem. He began by flattening out the standard lock and then welding a piece of steel to the end at a forty-five degree angle. This new lock would be reattached to the trap with the original cotter pin. He states that the spring is no longer necessary for the new lock to function properly. The new trap lock’s length from bend to point of weld is 5¾ inches (11.7 cm). The length of the welded piece is about 2 inches (5 cm). Thankfully, Tomahawk Live Trap has started using the improved trap locks.

Shorten & Even Cable Lengths

Since the Bailey has two moving jaws, it is imperative that both jaws fire and meet simultaneously in order to capture the beaver. As stated before, if one jaw doesn’t fire or if both jaws don’t meet synchronously then the beaver will have a greater opportunity to escape. To correct the problem of uneven closing jaws, do the following:
A. Set the trap properly and remove excessive slack in the trigger cables. This modification will reduce the hesitation to the trap’s firing when tripped. Leave a little slack before making final corrections, as you can always shorten the cable further if necessary after testing in step B. As the saying goes, measure twice and cut once.
B. Dry fire the trap to ensure that your changes allow the jaws to meet above the middle of the trap at the same time. Adjust the cable as needed to be sure this occurs.
C. Optional: File down or tape the cable loop tail so that it cannot become snagged on the mesh, thereby preventing the trap jaw from firing.

Center the Cable Wire

How the wire rod should be attached to the trigger’s loop.
The cable wire is normally attached to the ring thereby running the risk of the dog being pulled off kilter. Attach the cable wire to the center of the dog so that it is squarely pulled when the trap fires.


BUECH, R. 1983. Modification of the Bailey Live Trap for Beaver. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 11 (1):66-68.
VANTASSEL, S. 1998. Modifying the Bailey Beaver Trap. Wildlife Control Technology Magazine. Sept/Oct:14-16.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.

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