The status of the European Mole Talpa europaea L. as an agricultural pest and its management
ATKINSON RPD., MACDONALD DW., JOHNSON PJ.
Although the pest status of the European Mole Talpa europaea L. in Britain has never been adequately assessed, it is perceived as being a pest of agricultural and amenity land and is widely persecuted. We review the Mole's pest status, and evaluate current and proposed control methods. While there has been a recent decline in the demand for strychnine, abuse of this poison leads annually to the death of many wild and domestic animals. The need remains for a humane, practical and safe alternative. If strychnine were banned without such an alternative being available, the use of mole‐traps would probably increase. Through post‐mortem examination of trapped Moles we evaluate the humaneness of these traps. Our returned questionnaires showed that, while most farmers perceive Moles as pests, the damage which is attributed to them is slight on the great majority of farms. Control of Moles was none the less common and widespread, and was undertaken by 49.5% of respondents in 1992. Perceived pest status and the favoured method of control varied regionally; these trends may be related to soil quality and cultivation type. Silage pollution was the most widely cited agricultural problem attributed to Moles. Practical measures to reduce silage pollution by Moles are discussed, particularly with regard to silage collection and treatment using bacteriophages. The efficiency of these additives merits detailed study because they have the potential, regardless of whether pollution has occurred or not, to improve the quality of the silage to an extent that killing Moles may be unnecessary; less than 1% of respondents reported that 10% or more of their silage was seriously affected by Mole activity. Copyright © 1994, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved