This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
This little animal must be regarded as an enemy of the game-preserver and the poultry-keeper, inasmuch as its small-ness is made up for by its savage and active masterliness over young rabbits, leverets, and chicks of both winged game and poultry, also dovecote. In the case of game coverts, rabbit burrows or warrens, breeding coops and dovecotes, the weasel is an incorrigible offender and must be destroyed if the subjects are to thrive. On the other hand, the weasel is the most deadly foe the small rodents, mice and field-voles, also young rats, have, hence the forester, the farmer (excepting his poultry and pigeons), and the gardener acclaim for its protection as doing little damage to game, while conferring much benefit as a persistent mouse-hunter and mole destroyer, particularly on moorlands and hill pastures. Albeit. the weasel, like every other creature, will make its way from wild nature to cultivated tracts and there follow its blood-sucking propensities, so that the person against whose interests it militates must take repressive measures in order to attain success in his occupation.
1 "Model" and "Simplex." Mr. H. Lane, Eagle Works, Wednesfield, Staffordshire.
Fig. 80 - Small Dorset Vermin Trap set for Weasel.
Trapping in the case of game-preservers and poultry-farmers, also rabbit-warreners, is imperative. The trap usually employed for capturing the weasel is the Small Run Vermin Trap with grooved 3-in. jaws, strong reliable spring and chain complete, 16s. per dozen. Some vermin-trappers prefer the Small Dorset Vermin Trap, 3 in., bevelled spring, brass catch, and loop chain complete, 30s. per dozen. This trap, Fig. 80, may be set after the manner shown in Fig. 76, baited with a freshly killed small rabbit in place of the egg or chick bait as advised for the hedgehog (this animal being most attracted by a dead rabbit when kept till it is decidedly high), some trappers disembowelling the bait-rabbit and opening out the belly part so as to expose the kidneys and placing so as to face the trap at the back of the improvised run. The trap in this case is covered with fine soil by means of the "sifter," a boxlike implement with a screen at bottom and a handle to operate with, and acts equally well against poaching cats as the weasel family, also the hedgehog.
Weasels are generally most active during the early spring months before the hedges are in full leaf, and at this time it is more easy to catch them in traps. They often hunt in couples, and after the young are grown up as many as five or six will join in the chase of a rabbit, which rarely escapes. The bottom of a hedge or that of a small dry ditch is a favourite "road," and among buildings weasels always travel along just at the foot of the walls or anything that will give them temporary shelter from observation. Success, therefore, in trapping depends largely upon finding out these likely roads, and there setting Small Run Vermin Traps, preferably by placing two flat tiles inverted v or ridge fashion over an open run, or setting up a flat tile, stone, or old slab in a slanting position against a wall or board fence, these tempting vermin coming that way to pass between them and on the trap, while this is not likely to be sprung by domestic animals.
The best way to take the weasel and stoat, also polecat, is to make false drains where three or four hedges meet, get four 4-in. drain-pipes, dig out the earth enough to cover them, and leave the surface level. Cover the pipes as in draining, make several branch runs by nicking out the earth with a spade, all leading to the mouth of the drain. Place a small Run Trap as far in the drain as you can reach to peg it down. By the side of a ditch or brook is a good locality for placing these traps, no covering or bait being required.