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Illegal immigrants in my yard!

September 3, 2017
Kevin Williams - Grundy County Conservation Director , Reinbeck Courier

Late last summer I noticed a rather large tunnel being dug into my property from the south. I fleetingly gave thought that it might be illegal immigrants but I am quite a ways from the Mexican border.

It was being dug by someone(s) that I do not want entering my borders either moles!

Moles are fossorial animals - meaning that their lives are spent mostly tunneling through the softer soils of the earth. The mole belongs to the order Insectivora because it eats invertebrates earthworms, and insects. So you can see that it stands to reason that being insectivores, moles aren't going to be effectively poisoned using poison peanuts or corn products.

Well, over the course of the next several weeks, tunnels showed up everywhere on my sacred acre. Landscape devoid of tunnels one day had one crossing it the next. I stomped the tunnels down only to find them opened up again the next day or so.

I hunted up my old mole trap purchased years ago. I think it was from the old Coast to Coast store in Grundy Center so that tells you its age. No reflection on the store owners, but I never had "mutch" luck with it. Many times I would set it and wait. Sometimes the next day it would be tripped nothing. Other times it would be a week or more before it was tripped most of the time still nothing.

Well this time I oiled it up and placed it in a likely looking spot with the same results. I just never have had much luck with that pitchfork style of trap that has been around back into my grandparents' day.

Moles get little respect from people who try to maintain a perfectly landscaped yard because these surface runs are ridges of earth lifted along the path dug by the mammal. Actually their work opens and mixes soil in the natural environment. Nevertheless, I was determined to keep them from doing such an extensive aeration two years in a row.

In moist and pliable soil, a mole can dig a surface tunnel at rates up to 20 feet per hour. The ability to dig requires several adaptations. The front legs are short and powerful, and the front feet are shovel-like with claws that are long and broad. They remind me of a catcher's mitt. The palm faces out, so the motion of a digging mole looks something like a swimming stroke.

The head does not need to extend too far in front of the digging arms, so the neck is short. Because most of a mole's life is spent in the dark underground, there is little need for eyes. In fact, dirt broken free during digging could fall into the eyes, so they are tiny. And there also are no external ear flaps to fill with dirt either.

But back to the control part of this article. I tried the chewing gum remedy that some told me about. That doesn't work. Then I happened across this odd looking trap in my sister-in-law's garage. I turned it around and could not figure out how to set it. It had a spring and a big decal that said "this trap must not be set above ground. Also on it were the words EZ Mole Eliminator. Now I am not in the habit of endorsing products if I don't get a royalty but this is the exception - it lives up to its name.

I took the two traps home and my wife and I watched a couple videos of the trap on the internet. We set them Saturday evening. Well, I set them and my wife offered suggestions. But Sunday morning when we returned from church both traps were sprung. And both traps contained the object of our desire! In less than 24 hours, we probably caught as many moles as I had ever caught with the old style trap.

I'm hooked. The trap acts like a scissors that you push down into the tunnel and step on to set. It is that simple. Beginner's luck some might say. Maybe but I don't think so.



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