Foothold Traps-Now including information about larger traps used to trap wolves in Idaho:
There are two common kinds of foothold traps. Both use springs that clamp metal jaws down on the foot of an animal.
In Utah, foothold traps are required to have spacers that don't allow the trap jaws to completely close. Nevertheless, such traps can cause serious leg injuries or broken bones and may send an animal into shock. Foothold traps are sometimes placed in water so that an animal may drown after capture and not escape.
A dog caught in a trap will be frantic. Put a jacket or shirt over its head to keep it calm and prevent injury to yourself.
Try using your feet to open the trap. If it's a single spring foothold (pictured top left with a tong-like blade of metal on one side) step down hard on that release with your foot. While standing on the release, carefully separate the jaws and free the dog.
With a double spring foothold (pictured top right with a blade on each side) also try to calm and immobilize the dog with a jacket. Then step down on both release blades with your feet, applying equal pressure to each one. This should separate the jaws but you may still need to carefully spread them apart to release the dog. Remember to keep pressure on the blades and use extreme caution.
Larger Foothold Traps:
Nearby western states are working on or have approved plans to hold trapping seasons for larger predators. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a plan to allow wolf trapping for the 2011-12 hunting season. Trapping of large predators such as wolves or cougars requires much larger foothold traps with a jaw diameter of 6.5 to 9 inches. These traps are more powerful, more dangerous for people, pets and even horses. They are also considerably more difficult to release an animal from without setting tools.
The actions one should take to help release a pet from one of these traps are the same as those in the foothold trap section of this brochure, but require much more strength. More than likely, if your pet is caught in one of these traps and you do not have someone in your party who is big and strong you will have to leave the scene and go for help.