Traps That Poachers Use

Written by mike schoonveld
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Traps That Poachers Use
Commercial fishermen use nets to legally catch fish, but poachers use them as well. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Poachers are people who selfishly and unlawfully harvest wildlife and fish. Most poachers do it for personal gain. They either sell their poached fish or animals or reserve their illegal harvest for personal use. Since poachers are working outside the law, harvesting seasons set by fish and wildlife management agencies are ignored as are the legal methods used to take the wildlife. Poachers frequently rely on trapping devices; since traps can do the work untended, the traps can be abandoned if discovered and the poacher can make his illegal harvest at discreet times.

Conventional Traps

Many of the same traps that are legal to use during regulated trapping seasons are employed by poachers to take wildlife, turtles or fish during the closed season. On land, foothold traps are set on the ground and snap closed on the animal's foot when it steps on the trap. Cable restraints work like a wire noose, usually closing on the animal's neck. Body grip traps snap closed when an animal tries to pass through the trap. In lakes and rivers, traps are used to tempt the fish or turtles into escape-proof cages, or nets are used to entangle the victims.


Wire cable snares, often referred to as cable restraints, are legal to use in many states during regulated trapping seasons. The legal use of cable restraints often come with specific caveats as to where and when they are allowed. Poachers use them but adapt the devises and set them to ensnare and restrain deer or other animals that are not legal to catch. The cables are formed into circular nooses and suspended across the game trails frequented by the target animal. Once the animal's head passes through the loop, it closes and restrains it until the poacher comes back to check his results.

Gill Nets

Some states allow strictly regulated commercial fishing with gill nets. Commercial fishermen are adept at setting nets where they can maximise their legal catch and minimise unwanted catches. Poachers often set gill nets indiscriminately to catch whatever species of fish are present. Poachers also set gill nets specifically to catch kinds of fish not usually targeted by commercial fishermen. When a fish swims into a nearly invisible gill net, its head pokes through the mesh, but its gills and fins become entangled in it, holding the fish in place until the poacher retrieves the net and manually removes the fish.

Mist Nets

Poachers set thin, nearly invisible nets in areas where birds of significant value in the black market can be found. Mist nets are like gill nets for birds. The birds fly into the nets and become entangled. The poachers carefully untangle them and put the valuable ones in cages to be sold as pets or for display.

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