THE MOLE-HILL GAZETTE
Mole-Hill Gazette vol.1, no. 1
Occasional writings on managing moles in the genus Scapanus
By Dave Pehling, WSU Extension Snohomish Co. 03/07 Vol. 1, No. 1
Welcome to the the first issue of “The Mole-Hill Gazette”! If I have enough time and information, I’m planning to make this e-publication available on an irregular basis to provide information on managing our Pacific Northwest Talpids.
As you know, moles can be a vexing problem in gardens & landscapes and managing these little native insectivores can be difficult.Over the years we have all seen or heard of HUNDREDS of ways to supposedly control moles but there is very little scientific evidence to prove that any of them, other than trapping, are truly effective. To make matters worse, some of the odd-ball control methods seem to actually work occasionally, depending upon the particular situation. Finally, MOST of North America’s moles belong to the genus Scalopus and what works on those species may not, necessarily, be effective on our Scapanus spp.In January 2007 I finally got fed up with the lack of information and false claims by pesticide companies about the efficacy of their products so I’ve decided to test some of them on my own moles to see just how well they fare. Please keep in mind that these are VERY LIMITED tests, involving just a few individual moles so “your results may vary”. One of the reasons I’m undertaking this effort is because the only proven practical method of eliminating individual moles, lethal trapping, was made illegal by the voters of Washington State in the 2000 elections when they passed I-713. This law passed by a slim margin, largely due to misleading and false statements by the promoters of the initiative and we have had to live with the consequences ever since. For more information on the initiative, see the links near the bottom of our “Moles” fact sheet at moles.
Now, even though lethal trapping is now punishable as a “gross misdemeanor” (that is, up to a year in the pokey and/or up to a $5000 fine.) you may have noticed that trapping is still rampant and traps are still widely available. That’s a funny thing about the initiative… Owning, buying or selling the traps is NOT outlawed by I-713. It’s just using them as traps that is against the law… and there has been little or no enforcement because of lack of manpower. Recently, however, there HAS been at least one arrest of a commercial mole trapper. You can read the news stories at http://komonews.com/news/local/mole-trapper-shut-down-by-wildlife-agents and http://komonews.com/news/local/law-threatens-to-shut-down-the-mole-guy.
Still, laws do change and there is a chance that one of the bills going through Olympia this spring will pass and once again make mole and gopher trapping legal. These bills are H.B.1400 and S.B.5722. S.B.5722 has made the most headway, so far. You can find info on this bill at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5722&year=2007
This legislative session is over half over so it will be interesting to see how things turn out. If you are concerned one way or the other on the outcome, you should contact your political representatives.
In the next issue (which I HOPE to have out in a more timely manner) I’ll tell of some of the testing I’ve been doing the last couple of months.
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