There will be times when moles are required to be removed but there is no need for unnecessary suffering

Make a change to how moles are treated with 
Three Little Words 
It may come as a surprise that in today’s modern world when it comes to controlling moles we actually treat moles worst then those that worked the fields with a bent willow and a horse hair snare. Those old molecatchers hundreds of years ago, set their snares and lay in wait for the dancing motion of the willow and the sure sign of a captured mole. What to us now may seem an unkind and somewhat cruel undertaking when compared to the methods used today was actually far more humane than the tortuous events moles are subjected to in the 21st century?
The mechanical devices used today have changed very little over the past 100 years and although now forged in metal and powered by springs, these instruments of capture are all so often proclaimed as humane. Actually there are no mechanical devices that will, despite marketing claims, end the moles life instantly. All the designs grip and hold until the breath expires from exhaustion, stress, dehydration or starvation. There are those operators that make claims of never witnessing a mole alive in a device and that must not be disputed, they may never have, seen a mole struggling for its freedom. However, unlike those molecatchers of old the question must be asked- how long was the device left in the moles environment before the inspection was made?
The bent willow and horsehair snares required careful placement if any reward was to be had as a mole could struggle for its freedom and the capture was reliant upon the molecatchers presence to quickly retrieve the snare and humanely despatch the unfortunate mole.
The process required a watchful eye and no snares could or would be left unattended. The willow powered snares were positioned during the day and removed as the light failed providing the highest level of welfare for any mole at any time.
Alas today, things are not so fortunate for the moles, with what is termed as “progress” the devices changed and so has the attitude towards their use.
Whether a correctly used device placed for the capture of a mole has the ability to expire life quickly or not is important, but more so, is the attitude of the person responsible for its placement.
The mole is a sentient mammal- it feels pain and contentment, subjecting it to restraint in a mechanical device inflicts stress and pain- but below ground, no one hears them scream.
Moles do scream, loudly when distressed this cannot be disputed as many will have heard them, so why do so many operators that place devices to restrain moles under the guise of animal management, openly leave them down for days even weeks before making any inspection for any possible suffering.
The reasons are quick to be provided when asked
  • It is not a legal requirement
  • The device will kill it instantly
  • I have other jobs to do
  • It is company policy
To be as humane as the old molecatchers, would still today -even with metal spring powered devices require the operator to wait and inspect for the restraint of a target mole. As the mole will only be restrained but in such a way that escape is impossible. The power of the springs will hold the mole firmly – but do not worry as below ground no one hears them scream.
It must be whole heartedly accepted that it is impossible to determine when a mole will enter into any device, those old molecatchers had nothing else to do all day but to watch for the movement in the willow, but that was their occupation- molecatcher it was what they were paid to do – catch the mole.
Place a device right now and the mole could enter in a minute’s time or in 12 hours time, maybe 24 hours time so the argument of when a device must be inspected rages on. When should it be inspected- well surprisingly advice posted on the great wide web, the oracle of all knowledge seems to accept that once a day is acceptable, there are those that state twice a day and those that state regularly or frequently. Sadly, regularly and frequently means absolutely nothing for any level of welfare, as it could be once a week.
Now if the moles were to scream a little louder – just loud enough to be heard from below the ground things may be a little different. If moles “were” to be heard emitting the call of distress from below the level of the soil, then the demand for the devices to be inspected once a day may not be seen by so many as futile or unnecessary. Certainly the sounds of a screaming mole in the dead of night would have the desired effect to implement a requirement from the corridors of power to address the situation.
But actually if we look at it closely is there just the requirement for those in power to look at the crossing of the T and the dotting of the I?
There are no approvals for any mechanical devices used against a mole in the United Kingdom, as there is no requirement to inspect any device placed for a target mole under the term “Pest Control” ,the mole is in fact not a pest as described in the English Dictionary, moles are just a nuisance.
Under the Animal Welfare act all animals are protected from unnecessary suffering and this includes under the terms of pest control. If a device is used, the moment the target species enters into a device it becomes protected under the Animal Welfare act from any unnecessary suffering. But what is unnecessary suffering – what is acceptable suffering should be the question.
It is constantly quoted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs [DEFRA] that it would be down to the courts to decide what measures could or should have been taken to reduce or remove any unnecessary caused.
The intent to cause suffering is the question in relation to a person placing a device for the control of a mole?
Any person, who employs another person to control a mole for them, will request that removal from evidence to the presence of a mole, maybe the explosion of piles of soil suddenly appearing on the lawn. Any qualified and proficient person will attend and make their personal professional assessment of the situation. Should they decide from their own findings that a mole is present and it requires the placement of a mechanical device for the capture of that target mole, they are immediately creating the possibility of inflicting unnecessary suffering upon that mole.
Unnecessary suffering could be from the type of mechanical device deployed, its incorrect placement or directly from their own decision of when they will return to inspect for any possible unnecessary suffering. With mechanical devices known to inflict indiscriminate restraint upon a mole the professional operator is undoubtedly aware of the circumstances and the possible suffering that could be caused. It must also be considered that tampering from third parties either accidental or maliciously, disturbance from other animals both domestic and wild will and can influence the location of the device and/or its operation, resulting in unnecessary suffering from impedance to the operation.
So, despite the claims that an inspection once a day will not necessarily improve or remove levels of unnecessary suffering, the operators’ evidence for the initial placement of the device immediately identifies the requirement for an inspection as they have the moment they position a mechanical device directed potential harm to that target mole.
Once the device is positioned the intent has been declared and combined with the risk assessment of both the circumstances and location, requires the operator to inspect for possible suffering to any restrained mole.
Without the placement of that mechanical device, the target mole would experience no change to its everyday life pattern, but below ground no one hears them scream!
Anyone who places a mechanical device today for the removal of a mole has a personal responsibility to insect it a minimum of once a day for any possible unnecessary suffering. If a device is placed today then it is known that tomorrow they must inspect it, it is not a problem, if you know you cannot inspect then do not place any device it is that simple.
Until modifications to existing devices or new designs are approved then the suffering moles are subjected to will continue with the use of these current devices.
What can be implemented is a civilized professional attitude to how these devices are applied from a working practice for their use that provides a minimum level of welfare. It is therefore down to those people that make use of mechanical devices for the control of moles and as important for those people that request those people to operate a working practice that will – inspect for possible suffering a minimum of just once a day.
If you employ any person to remove a mole for you- please use just three simple words to them 

             Below ground no one hears them scream