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Tales of a Lady Mole Catcher

October 2018

Louise Chapman

 

Tales of a Lady Mole Catcher

For our first indoor talk of our 2018-19 season we informed and entertained by Louise Chapman, one of the few ladies in the UK currently employed controlling moles. Furthermore, as Louise was at pains to point out, in addition to moles she is more than willing to kill anything on request and never says no. Some of the other life forms on her hit list include rodents, rabbits, grey squirrels and wasps.

Louise worked as a drama teacher for six years, but then trained as a garden designer. However, it soon became apparent that this line work involved a lot of heavy lifting. When the opportunity arose about five years ago to purchase an established mole catching business, she went for it. She attended a course that included a great deal of information on catching moles except, that is, on the use of traps. This omission was because the main reason people were on the course was to become qualified in the use of gas. It was at this point that Louise was offered the chance to go to Australia for 10 weeks to take part in the making the television programme, Deadliest Pests Down Under. This was about the control of the kind of creatures that can be a problem there, like snakes, spiders and crocodiles. In the UK the show has appeared on Dave. Louise had also enjoyed other coverage in the media, including The Eastern Daily Press, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal and others. She has also featured on several radio and television shows.

Moles, we learnt, are solitary and breed in spring, the females coming into season for only 24 hours each year. After a gestation of 28 days they produce a litter of between 4 and 7 pups. Seven weeks later the pups are weaned and the mother forcibly removes them from the burrow. Immature moles initially produce runs near the surface, pushing up a characteristic ridge. It takes three months to establish a run, which can be 200 to 400 meters in length. They weigh about 4 ounces, live for between 3 – 6 years, eat mainly worms, have a work-sleep cycle of 4 hours and are hemophiliac. Herons and owls are their natural predators.

Unfortunately there are times when the activities of the mole conflict with our own and the solution generally involves killing them. The various methods and devices that claim to dissuade the mole are usually cruel, illegal or ineffective. By law, if you set a trap designed to catch the mole alive, then you must visit the trap every two hours - and provide food and water. Taking a live mole to another area invariably results in a slow death by starvation, as the mature mole would be unable to excavate a productive run in time to support itself. There are three main types of mole trap: scissor, tunnel and talpex, all designed to bring about as quick a death as possible.

 

Finally came the hour of reckoning. As I mentioned, Louise was once a teacher, and so it was only to be expected that we had an exam – written!

 

This months competition results:

 

Floral:

First: Jane Dalton.

Second: Matt Cunningham.

Third: Hazel Dunn.

 

Fruit / Vegetables:

First: Eric Rogers.

Second: Prue Szczepanowski.

Third: Hazel Dunn.

 

Seasonal Photograph:

First: Ed Szczepanowski.

Second: Hazel Dunn.

Third: Hazel Dodgson.

 

Our next meeting will be Wednesday 14th of November at Hockham village hall when Jim Paine of Walnut Tree Nurseries will be advising us as to how we might respond to climate change. New members welcome; you can join when the doors open at 13:30, and enjoy the proceedings which start at about 14:00.

 

Edward Szczepanowski.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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