Snaring & Cable Devices

Responsible trappers can use cable devices to make selective sets for many furbearers. Animals often travel the same trails and paths on a regular basis. Locations where the trail narrows are good places to set cable devices. Place cable devices correctly in the center of the line of travel, so the targeted furbearer will walk into it. Furbearers are accustomed to walking through woods and brush, so cable devices do not alarm them.

Cable Devices

Modern cable devices are made from a stranded steel cable. Various sizes are used, but 3.32 inches is popular. State trapping regulations may require you to use a specific size of cable.

Powered Cable Device

The powered cable device uses a mechanical feature, such as a spring to place or close the loop of the cable on an animal’s body or limb. An example of a powered cable device is the coil-spring-activated Belisle Cable Device, which uses a foothold-like pan system to activate springs that place and tighten a cable around the captured animal’s foot.

Non-Powered Cable Device

A non-powered cable device uses the forward movement of an animal to place and close the loop on its body or neck.

Relaxing Lock

A relaxing lock will move in either direction on the cable. When an animal pulls against the device it tightens, drawing the loop smaller. If an animal does not pull against the device, it relaxes. Animals can be released unharmed from cable devices with relaxing locks set as restraining systems on land. Many types of relaxing locks are available. Some relaxing locks are made to break at a given strength, allowing larger animals such as deer to escape.

Non-Relaxing Lock

A non-relaxing lock keeps a cable from loosening after an animal is caught. It will close the cable loop tighter when pulled, but it will not relax when the tension stops.

Breakaway Devices

In some live-restraining land set situations, trappers must use breakaway devices to allow deer, livestock, or other large mammals to escape. Breakaway devices are parts of a cable system that allow an animal to escape from the loop if the animal pulls against it with sufficient force. Ferrules, S-hooks, and J-hooks are examples of breakaway devices.

Make certain you thoroughly understand cable device regulations. Regulations vary from state to state according to furbearer management needs, and the need for selective trapping.

Using Cable Devices for Aquatic Furbearers

Cable devices can be set on land or in water. Trappers commonly use cable devices for beavers. Setting cable devices in water is one way to increase selectivity. 

A careful trigger can make sets underwater using cable devices. The cables can be attached to stout poles and stuck in the mud to make channel sets or baited sets for beaver. During the winter, trappers can chop a hole in the ice and push poles through the hole into the mud with cable devices baited for beaver. The under-ice beaver set is one of the rare times when bait is used with a cable device.

Cable devices can also be set as live-restraining traps in water and anchored on land. This will allow the furbearer to leave the water.

Using Cable Devices for Furbearers on Land

Set non-powered cable devices to catch the beaver around the body. Set non-powered cable devices to catch foxes and coyotes around the neck. Fox and coyotes have tapered heads that are wide behind the ears, so cable restraints around their necks will hold them well. Some powered cable devices are designed to place the cable loop on the animal’s foot, others will place it around the neck.


Boil cable devices in water mixed with baking soda to remove the oil and dull the appearance. This makes the cable device less visible. Use 4 tablespoons of baking soda for every 12 sets of cable devices, along with enough water to keep the devices covered for one hour of boiling. After boiling, add more water to the container until it overflows, and drain the scum off the top. This prevents re-contaminating the cable devices with oil when you lift them out. Many successful trappers use cable devices prepared in this manner, but there are options if you want a darker appearance or some natural scent.


Some trappers boil cable devices a second time with a few logwood crystals for a darker appearance. Do not make cable devices too dark, or they will be too visible. An option for using logwood crystals is to boil the cable devices in water with bark, moss, plant leaves, or spruce needles collected from your trapping areas. This will darken the cable devices and add some natural scent.

Handling and Storage

Use a strong wire to remove the cable devices from the hot water. Let them dry. Once the cable devices have cooled, you can handle them with gloves that are free of any scent. Hang the devices in a dry place where they will not absorb any unnatural odors. 

Prepare enough cable devices to last you the season. Discard cables after capturing an animal. Cables will kink after a catch, and possibly weaken. A kinked cable will not close smoothly. Inspect all other parts of the cable device for damage or weakening before using them again.

Procedures for making selective sets using cable devices

Entanglement is a concern when setting cable devices. Animals caught in cable devices need freedom of movement. It is unlikely they will pull hard enough to hurt themselves unless they tangle the cable on something. Set cable devices where there is no chance the animal can contact brush, fences, or other objects. Prevent the animal from reaching anything it could climb over, suspending it in the device with its feet off the ground. It is helpful to use shorter cables to prevent animals from reaching anything to cause a problem.


Do not set cable devices in trails used by people, domestic animals, or deer. To avoid deer, you can place a limb or pole horizontally immediately above your cable loop to make deer jump over the top. Keep the jump pole low or the deer will try to go under it instead of over it. Avoid using limbs or poles in a way that could create an entanglement problem for a captured animal. Do not anchor jump poles. Poles should easily fall out of the way when an animal is caught.


Cable devices work best in animal trails or blind sets where the animal will encounter it as it travels. Do not use bait or lure with non-powered cable devices on land. Places where the path narrows are best. Center the cable loop in the path. The size of the loop and the height from the ground to the bottom of the loop will help you catch the animal you want and avoid other animals.

Loop sizes and heights

·      Fox cable loops should be 6 to 8 inches in diameter and the bottom of the loop should be 6 to 8 inches off the ground.

·      Coyote cable loops must be 10 to 12 inches in diameter and the bottom of the loop should be 10 to 12 inches off the ground.

·      Beaver cable loops set on land should be 9 to 10 inches in diameter and the bottom of the loop should be 2 to 3 inches off the ground.

·      Beaver cable loops set in water for swimming beavers should be 9 to 10 inches in diameter with 1/3 of the loop above the water line.

Snaring & Cable Devices

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