The following is a response I wrote to a letter in our local newspaper:
I write in response to Alison Shinglers’ humorous and tongue-in-cheek article on moles in the BMV last week. Moles are a considerable nuisance to farmer, gardener and groundsman alike but we should remember that the problem exists because our dwellings and gardens have colonised the natural territory of this shy and retiring creature.
In April we should expect to find an increase in molehills because the normally solitary male mole often travels considerable distances in search of romance and the mother mole is busy digging more tunnels in search of worms which she paralyses by biting their heads off and storing in chambers to feed on whilst giving birth and caring for her young.
Down the ages man has sought ways of defeating the mole. One method is to place a smelly substance such as mothballs down the tunnel but this usually results in the mole digging another tunnel instead. Some swear by sonic deterrents but most find them a waste of time. Some have even been known to buy a transistor radio and tune it to Radio One and bury it in the ground.
You can buy mole traps but few know how to use them and just sticking them down the molehill will not work, and besides, most mole traps bought over the counter are cheap imports and simply don’t work. Some have used strychnine-laced worms to poison the moles –now fortunately illegal – or fumigated the tunnels with poison gases but this leaves the good earth toxic for generations and causes the mole a slow and agonizing death.
The best way is either to learn how to catch moles properly yourself using a well-tuned Duffus half-barrel trap which kills the mole painlessly and instantly or else hire a proper mole catcher who is fully trained. One useful website is http://www.britishmolecatchers.co.uk which provides advice and training courses and recommends accredited traditional mole catchers in your area. One or two advertise in this magazine and I hasten to add that I am not one.
Man and mole will always have an awkward relationship as our spread of dwellings and landscapes reduce their natural habitat but ‘the gentleman in black velvet’ is a noble creature and if we must remove them then we should do so with dignity.