Authored by John Connors
The Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC) recently held a public hearing to hear comments on whether they should concur with the Pesticide Board’s decision to list two species of moles, the Eastern Mole and Hairy-tailed Mole, as pests. Several folks from Wake Audubon attended this meeting and urged the WRC not to concur with the Pesticide Board’s decision. These moles are native insectivores that feed on insects and worms, including the grubs of some insect pests like Japanese Beetles. Clearly, they are beneficial, not pests.
Photo by Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University
Moles are solitary animals and produce only one litter per year with 2-5 young, so their reproductive potential is low. They are not at all like a rodent, with which they are often confused. Widespread use of chemical pesticides on moles could potentially deplete their populations. Moles help keep some insect pest species in check and eat up to 70% of their body weight each day.
Chemical baits for moles in other states use bromethalin, a potent nervous system toxin. Bell Labs, the maker of the mole pesticide Talpirid, which incorporates this toxin into fake worm bait, describes it “being extremely toxic to mammals and birds. Dogs and other predatory and scavenging mammals and birds might be poisoned if they feed upon animals that have eaten this bait.” Secondary poisoning of pets and wildlife including hawks and owls, fox, raccoon, and snakes among others, is a real concern. Additionally, these toxic “gummy worms” are attractive to children and can cause deadly posisoning.
Thanks to the previous rulings by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and its staff, North Carolina already has an enlightened policy for controlling unwanted moles using permits and traps. University extension agents confirm that “the most effective and practical means for controlling problem moles is by trapping.” Traps target the offending animal and are selective…and there is no risk of secondary poisoning. There already is an option for controlling unwanted moles that is not a commercially-available, risky poison!
Moles are a curious component of North Carolina’s native fauna, and although the mounds above their tunnels might at times be unsightly, these are testimony to the work of controlling insect pests that moles are doing for us. It makes no sense to label these marvelous animals as pests, and the last thing we need is adding another noxious chemical poison into our environment. Please write to the WRC and urge them not concur with the Pesticide Board’s ruling.
Mail comments to:
Gordon Myers, Executive Director
NC Wildlife Resources Commission
1701 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
OR email your comments to: