“What happens when they get populated is that they’re going to start spreading out,” McCloud said. “I’m really surprised we haven’t had a problem before now.”
McCloud has an animal-damage control license issued through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
“We have to go up and take tests and prove we’re proficient,” he said. “We have to prove that we can release animals safely, if needed.”
McCloud said that proficiency came in handy during this project when he inadvertently trapped a couple of “nontarget animals.” In one case it was a dog, whose owner allowed it to run free during an exercise outing along the abandoned railroad bed west of town.
McCloud said he was able to release the dog unharmed because of the type of trap he uses.
“When we’re this close to town there are several methods we can use, but we prefer foothold traps because if we do catch a nontarget animal—like a cat or a dog—we can release it unharmed,” he said.
“One of the lethal methods is a snare. It’s a choking device. If a domesticated animal gets into that and it can be bad.”
McCloud, has been a licensed trapper for the past five years, said he grew up interested in hunting.
“I found out early on that I had a knack for catching animals,” he said. “I didn’t start trapping until I got my animal-damage control permit.
“It all got started when I was trapping badgers for farmers. I figured I had to check my traps every day anyway so I might as well trap coons, coyotes and so forth.”
Though some people may find the idea diastaseful to trap wild animals in order to control their population, McCloud said leaving population control to nature is a harsher option.
“If we don’t control them, Mother Nature will do it—and she’s viscous,” McCloud said.
He said a few years ago he was asked to trap and remove raccoons west of Hillsboro over an 18-mile area as a way to control their population. He said he pulled an average of 130 coons a year.
“Last year we had a case of distemper come through,” he said. “Mother Nature was controlling the population. I trapped that same area this year and pulled four coons. That was it. She will devastate the population quickly.”
Trapping season in Kansas begins in November and ends Feb. 15. Because McCloud carries a state permit, he can trap certain animals year round.