“Break-Away Devices for Snares (BAD’s)” by Shawn Johnson


“Snares capable of taking a wild animal, except those set under the ice, must include a breakaway device rated to cause the snare loop to disassemble when 350 pounds or less of static force is applied.”

I’ve written this short article in response to several members that contacted me encouraging an article on breakaway devices (BAD’s) be published in our magazine. Unfortunately, I have been thus far unsuccessful in soliciting trappers with far more years of experience in the use of these devices to write such an article. Admittedly, I have very little practical experience with using BADS although I’ve been successfully using snares for more than forty years.

The extent of my experience previous to this year was limited to two dozen of Keith Gregerson’s breakaway lock snares I won at a trapper’s meeting many, many years ago. For those unfamiliar with Gregerson’s lock, they designed for one time use and are made of a thin material similar in thickness and appearance to a copper trap tag folded in half. Where the two ends meet, a diamond shaped hole is cut into the material the cable passes through with the cable stop on one “end.” Should an unintended animal such as a deer or livestock happen to catch themselves temporarily in one of these snares the lock itself will simply tear in half and the loop falls apart. In full disclosure, I’ve only taken perhaps a dozen coyotes a handful of foxes and three bobcats with snares equipped with BADS of any kind.

I’ve not yet had any situations when the BAD was activated in my very limited use of snares equipped with them.

That being said, I’m reasonably confident that when care is taken to assemble these correctly, BADS will have little if any negative impact on the speed and effectiveness of the lock riding down the cable and closing. Like many other trappers in our State, I was unprepared when DNR chose to initiate the BAD requirement this past season.

Consequently, I had to retrofit a number of old snares in my possession as well as make several batches of new ones that complied with the new regulation requirements. I use a combination of Thompson/Berkshire, cam and non-relaxing washer style locks on my snares. I purchased “J” style hooks in both 350 and 285 breaking strength.

I learned a few things in the process that are important to ensure reliability and to guard against avoidable animal discomfort/injury and or fur damage potential.
1.) Crimping “J” hooks to the lock end of the snare’s construction must be done in such a way as to not crush the loop into an oblong shape. Doing so binds the BAD against the lock and can cause the lock to exert excessive friction enough against the cable that it will not freely close. Remember to maintain the rounded shape of the loop end and test each before proceeding before installing an end stop on the cable. The BAD needs to move independently and freely in order to ensure both the lock and BAD can function properly.

2.) Keep in mind the cable end stop should point away from the loop and never toward it. Although the snare may close in such a position, the stop end which characteristically maintains a portion of unraveled cable exposed may cause unnecessary discomfort, injury and fur damage to any furbearer taken in it.
When using cam style designs it is probably wiser to use “s” type hooks instead of J hooks to reduce the potential of this occurring. Although J hooks may be twisted with pliers to achieve the same goal, it is reasonable to assume some measure of weakening of the BAD hook has occurred and a much lower breaking strength will disassemble the snare.

3.) Attach J hooks from the underside of the lock to be certain the closed loop “end” points away from the center of the loop to avoid the closed gap from becoming entangled in fur and preventing the lock from functioning properly. This will also reduce the risk of unnecessary fur damage.

Keep your skinning knives sharp,

A DNR Question & Answer discussion on breakaways is available on their website https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/recreation/hunting/trapping/snare-breakaway-requirements.html
A more in depth discussion on the use of snares produced by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (Furbearer Conservation Technical Work Group) entitled “Modern Snares for Capturing Mammals: Definitions, Mechanical Attributes, and Use Considerations”  is also available for free online in PDF form at https://files.dnr.state.mn.us/recreation/hunting/trapping/modern_snares.pdf#page=10

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