Director:
Bryant Spivey
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Physical Address:
Johnston County
Agricultural Center

2736 NC Highway 210
Smithfield, NC 27577
 
Mailing Address:
2736 NC 210 Hwy
Smithfield, NC 27577
 
Phone: 919-989-5380
Fax: 919-934-2698
Moles

 North Carolina Animal Damage Control  Manual

Problem

Moles may disfigure lawns, golf courses and gardens and damage root systems.

Description of Damage

Mole damage consists of unsightly ridges in lawns and golf courses, ridges which are created by the mole's tunneling activity as it searches for food.  Such damage usually is not a source of economic loss.  Roots, bulbs and tubers are not eaten but may be damaged as the mole digs through the ground.  Extensive tunneling may lead to drying out of shallow-rooted lawn plants and shrubs or expose them to later attack by small rodents.

Description of Animals

There are three species of moles in North Carolina: the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus), the hairy-tailed mole (Parascalops breweri) and the star-nosed mole (Condylura cristata).  All are similar in general appearance.  The head has a long, tapering snout; lacks external ears; and has small, barely noticeable eyes.  Moles have a short neck, and the muscular forelegs support broad, heavily clawed feet.  The animal's hind legs, feet and tail are small.  The fur is short, velvety, dark gray to black and covers most of the animal.  Overall length ranges from 5 to 8 inches.

Life History

The mole's diet is almost entirely animal, including earthworms, white grubs, ants, beetles and other subterranean insects.  A mole will eat almost its own weight in food daily.  The eastern mole, the probable culprit when lawns and gardens are damaged, is usually solitary although the female shares her burrow with the young while they mature ( approximately 8 weeks).  There is no particular time of day or year when moles are more active; however, they limit their digging to greater depths when surface soils are cool.

Control

A number of control measures work if used properly.  The best methods for homeowners include trapping and using insecticides to reduce the mole's food supply.

Legal Requirements

Moles are classified as wild, nongame animals under North Carolina game laws.  No open hunting or trapping seasons are set up for these animals, and they are subject to all applicable state laws and regulations.

When moles cause substantial damage to a landowner's or lessee's property, he may apply for a permit from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to take members of the species involved.  The permit can be used only by the landowner of lessee unless it is determined that he cannot accomplish the necessary control without help ( he must request, in writing, that additional names of authorized users be added to the permit).  The permit will specify how the animals can be taken.

The permit may authorize the use of firearms or traps when taking moles.  It may, however, place restrictions on certain features of the trapping (if this method is authorized) in order to limit the taking to the intended purpose.  In addition to possible permit restrictions, trapping animals for depredations also comes under the statewide trapping law (G.S. 113-291.6).  This law is included in the annual digest of hunting and trapping regulations published by the NCWRC.

When a landowner or lessee sustains substantial property damage from moles, he may take them on his own land without a permit but only by using firearms.

Moles killed for control of depredations must be buried or otherwise disposed of in an safe and sanitary manner.  The killing and disposal method of every mole taken for depredations must be reported to the NCWRC within five working days.

Permit requests or questions about laws and regulations should be addressed to the NCWRC, Division of Wildlife Management, 1722 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1722 or (919-707-0050).  Local ordinances, such as those regarding the discharge of a firearm within city limits, may also have a bearing on how a particular animal damage control method is used and consequently, must be checked.

Nonlethal

Moles may be controlled by removing their food source.  Insecticides for controlling grubs are Diazinon (Spectracide) and Trichlorfon (Proxol/Dylox). Follow the label's instructions for use.

Milky-spore disease is a satisfactory natural control for certain white grubs, one of the moles' major food sources.  However, it may take several years for the milky-spore disease to become established and thus influential.  Treatments are most effective when they are made on a community-wide basis.  The spore dust can be applied at a rate of 2 pounds per acre and in spots 5 to 10 feet apart (1 level teaspoon per spot).

For small areas such as seed beds, install a sheet metal or hardware cloth fence.  The fence should be started at the ground surface and go to a depth of at least 12 inches and then bend outward an additional 10 inches at a 90 degree angle.

Lethal

The best trap to use is the spear type.  Locate a frequently used runway by caving in a short section of all visible tunnels and check each daily to see which ones the mole reopens.  Repeat this process for two or three consecutive days; then place traps on those major runways.  One or two traps should be enough since the tunneling is probably cause by only a few moles. 

If a mole is seen building a surface tunnel, move behind the animal quietly and block off it retreat by stamping shut or driving a shovel across the runway.  The mole can then be dug up and killed in a lawful manner.

Some states may allow mole tunnels to be gassed.  Gas-producing cartridges can be placed in tunnels, or car exhaust can be piped in.  However, these and all other poisoning techniques are not legal in North Carolina.

 

Information Provided by The North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service