Snare breakaway requirements

Beginning October 1, 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.

Snares set by licensed wolf trappers during a legal wolf season would also be exempt from the requirement. 

What is a breakaway device?

Breakaway devices are used to improve the selectivity of a snare, and can be designed in many ways. They can be incorporated into the snare lock (as a component or as the structural material itself), or as an attachment to the snare lock or cable. They cause the snare loop to disassemble when a certain force is applied, allowing the entire snare to detach from the animal. Examples include S-hooks, J-hooks, shear pins, compression ferrules and shareable lock material.

Pictures can be found on the DNR website or at trapping supply dealer websites. Breakaway devices are typically rated based on the amount of static weight necessary to cause the loop to ‘break’ or release (e.g., a 285 lb. S-hook).

Why is the DNR implementing this now?

Breakaway devices allow large non-target mammals such as moose, elk, wolves, bears and adult deer to escape by pulling to disassemble the snare loop. Smaller target animals (e.g., coyotes, bobcats, foxes) are not able to break the snare by pulling.

The aim of this regulation is to prevent the accidental capture of large mammals while continuing to allow the use of snares statewide. The DNR has been discussing this with state trapping groups since 2018, and has received online public input on the subject in the spring of 2019.

The current rule, which goes in to effect in October, is considered a temporary rule. A process is under way to solicit additional public input and make it a permanent rule.

What happens if wolf hunting/trapping is allowed again?

If a wolf season is reinstated in Minnesota, breakaway devices would not be required on ‘standard’ snares set by licensed wolf trappers with a valid tag during a legal wolf season. These snares would still be required to have a loop diameter of 10 inches or less, must be set with the top of the loop no more than 20 inches above the ground and be constructed of cable or wire that is 1/8-inch or less in diameter.

Note that “wolf snares” (as defined in Minnesota Rules part 6234.0900 subpart 6), which can be deployed using larger loop diameters and set higher off the ground than standard snares, are currently still required to have a diverter wire and breakaway device “designed to release a moose.”

Clarification of this wolf snare breakaway language will be undertaken as part of the permanent rule process to codify all breakaway language, and will only be relevant if a wolf season is initiated in the future.

How do I know if my breakaway device meets the standard?

Snares or breakaway devices that are rated by the manufacturer or distributor to break at 350 pounds (or less) would meet the standard. Trappers who would like to have their snare breakaway device tested can contact John Erb at the DNR regional headquarters in Grand Rapids (218) 328-8875 to make arrangements.

The test requires breaking the device and is not required for legal approval. A rating of 350 lbs or less advertised or otherwise provided by the snare or breakaway device manufacturer or distributor is acceptable.

Can trappers use any type of breakaway device?

Yes. Any device that causes the snare loop to disassemble at 350-pounds or less of static force may be used.

What about snares used in permitted livestock depredation activities?

This rule does not apply in permitted activities for reducing livestock depredation.

Where can I learn more about breakaway devices?

Modern Snares for Capturing Mammals: Definitions, Mechanical Attributes and Use Considerations, published by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies contains a comprehensive section on breakaway devices, their effectiveness and testing.