Prebaiting is an important component to successful pig trapping yet is often overlooked by trappers. Prebaiting attracts pigs to the trap site, and more importantly, gets all of the pigs in a sounder — or family group — conditioned to entering and leaving the trap unharmed.
Usually, 1 to 2 weeks of prebaiting is necessary before the entire sounder will enter the trap. However, 2 weeks may pass and some pigs still may not have entered the trap.
Some pigs in a sounder initially do not feel comfortable entering a trap and will stay outside while others readily enter and feed on the bait. This trap-shyness is especially true for older pigs and pigs that have been previously trapped and released into the wild.
It is important to be patient and allow all of the pigs to become conditioned to safely entering and leaving the trap before it is set. Pigs are intelligent animals, and if the trap is set too soon, members of the sounder that you do not catch will have become educated and can be more difficult, if not impossible, to capture later.
Tip For Dealing with Trap-Shy Pigs
You may need to remove the door from the trap and create a larger opening until pigs become conditioned to regularly entering and leaving the trap. Also, a larger trap may appear less confining to trap-shy pigs.
How to Pre-Bait
- Tie or prop the trap door securely open to prevent premature captures of wild pigs and to allow them continual access to the bait.
- Place the bait on the ground inside the trap and scatter it on the ground in areas immediately surrounding the trap.
- You may place a larger amount of bait (about 1 to 2 gallons if using shelled corn) just inside the trap entrance to entice pigs to enter.
Once pigs are “on the bait,” it is important to maintain a constant supply of bait in and around the trap so pigs will have something to eat each time they visit the site. The use of a spin-cast automatic feeder suspended over the trap during the prebaiting period will reduce the amount of time and effort needed to keep the trap baited and will minimize human disturbance to the area.
Choosing a Bait
Check Game Laws Before Baiting
Game laws regarding the use of bait vary between states. Before you prebait or bait any pigs or pig traps, be sure to check the baiting regulations specific to the state in which you will be conducting these activities.
The following can be used as bait by themselves or in combination:
- shelled corn (dry or fermented)
- other grains
- sweet potatoes or overripe fruit
- commercial scents or attractants
There is no best bait to use. Wild pigs in some areas may prefer one type of bait over another.
Begin baiting traps with whole-kernel dried corn (shelled or on the cob). Corn is readily available at local feed and seed stores, is easy to work with (there is no excessive odor or mess as with fermented corn), and more often than not it does a good job of attracting wild pigs. If it becomes clear that pigs are visiting your trap but not readily consuming corn, experiment with other types of bait or attractants.
After several weeks of prebaiting, if you continue to observe a pig or pigs that just will not enter the trap, you will need to decide whether or not to go ahead and set the trap. Once you have set the trap, it must be checked daily, preferably in early to midmorning. Not only is it inhumane to leave animals in a trap for extended periods of time, but it also allows them more time to "figure out" how to escape and damage the trap. The placement of bait within the trap is a very important detail of pig trapping. All too often, traps are baited heavily around the trigger mechanism and only a few individuals in the sounder are captured.
Baiting and Setting the Trap
- Do not bait heavily around the trigger mechanism
- Bait heavily along the inside of the trap opposite the side where the trigger is located
- Place only a small amount (1/2 to 1 gallon) of bait around the trigger mechanism
The idea behind this bait placement strategy is that pigs will enter the trap and naturally gravitate toward the larger pile of bait. As more and more pigs enter the trap to feed, one or several pigs will be pushed aside from the larger bait pile and switch to feeding on the bait around the trigger mechanism, eventually springing the trap. Using this strategy can increase trapping success rates from 1 or 2 animals to 10 or more. See baiting strategies for a root stick and trip wire.
- How do I control the pig population?
- What traps work best?
- If I catch a pig, what do I do with it?
- What type of bait should I use?