By Connor Lynch
Relaxing cable restraints don’t kill coyotes when they’re used properly. That’s according to a fur trapper in Wisconsin who has used the restraints for years and was part of the push to legalize them in the state.
A Central Ontario trapper told Farmers Forum in March that he’s had issues with the coyotes being strangled to death by the relaxing cable restraints, which were approved in Ontario in December 2015. But Mike Schmelling, who traps in Wisconsin, said that his experience with the restraints is they work exactly as intended, non-lethally.
Wisconsin was one of the first U.S. states to begin studying the use of relaxing cable restraints back in 2001, with the aim of legalization if they worked well. That meant years of research. “Lots of paperwork, thousands of hours, and the trappers all had to ride with technicians. They’d do the paperwork while the trappers were on the line,” said Schmelling. But it paid off when the state legalized the use of the restraints.
The only way to kill a coyote with them, he said, is if the restraint is set up next to other objects and a coyote can get itself tangled up or wrapped around them.
Otherwise, Schmelling said, the only way he could imagine the coyotes dying was if the wrong washer was used on the restraints (it needs to be able to rotate 180 degrees to prevent the animal strangling itself) or if the coyote burst a blood vessel trying to escape.
“There are still little mistakes that happen,” said Schmelling, adding that the restraints work the overwhelming majority of the time.
“There’s only a few trappers I know that won’t use them. The older guys, they call the young guys ‘cowboy trappers,’ because they’re using lassos.” Schmelling exclusively uses the restraints now. “They’re easy to set, and easy to teach.”