why are mole traps banned in wa??

captainheadcrashSeptember 21, 2007

I'm trying to sell my house, so of course a Frankenmole promptly decided to move in and completely destroy my front lawn. I get 4-5 BIG molehills per day and I've tried the various useless poisons, repellants etc that are legal in this state. I even keep an old hedge clipper handy on the porch so I can run out and start jabbing at the dirt when I see movement, to the joy and delight of all my neighbors who of course have postcard-perfect lawns 10 feet away from my mess. Next step is getting a shotgun and camping out in front of the holes, Elmer Fudd-style. I'm only half-kidding.

But I have to ask: since traps are the only effective means of actually getting moles, WHY ON EARTH ARE THEY BANNED IN WASHINGTON STATE???

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Moles have driven me crazy. The only way I've found to stop them is the big heavy metal jaw traps that crush them instantly. Drive to Oregon and buy 4 of those at Home Depot. Why Washington has that law don't know -- no gardener or lawn owner or anybody trying "humanely" to deal with it and gone insane is behind it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 4:42PM
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darlene87(z7 Wa)

My hubby said the state of Wa. made a law that it is illegal to kill a fur bearing animal. Have you noticed that moles do have beautiful fur, wonder how many it would take to make a coat? My hubby caught two moles this year, with a rat trap, on top of the ground. They were coming up on the surface by the tomatoes, for what we don't know. He covered up the trap with a box to keep cats out. He did not bait the trap with anything, as we did not realize it was a mole coming up, thought it was a rat.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 2:59AM
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Why Washington has that law don't know -- no gardener or lawn owner or anybody trying "humanely" to deal with it and gone insane is behind it.

Well, Washington state voters passed that law and one has to assume at least a few of the registered voters in this state are gardeners or lawn owners :-)

The law was passed to ban unethical trapping practices with fur-bearing animals. Although not intended to specifically address moles per se, they ARE fur-bearing so just got swept up in the tide. The US Humane Society, the organization that stimulated similar legislation in other states as well, has been attempting to modify the law to exclude moles, however it seems there is quite a bit less enthusiasm to amend the law than there was to inact it initially.

Whie I agree that moles can be extremely annoying in disrupting lawns and disturbing plants, they really are an essential part of the environment. They are incredible soil building machines,

Here is a link that might be useful: Moles - they're not all bad

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 10:59AM
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Ooops!! Hit that submit button too fast!!

I was going to finish off my comments by saying that the presence of moles in one's garden typically indicates a healthy soil. Moles seldom frequent areas with heavy chemical usage, preferring a more naturally maintained garden or environment with a healthy soil biology. They are predators and eat soil insects, including crane fly larvae and slugs and snails. They generally do not eat plants, but can disturb or dislodge them with their tunnel making activities. The plus side is that they also aerate the soil, reduce compaction and improve drainage and serve to mix and redistribute soil nutrients.

Personally, I like to take the approach that ALL of our gardens' wildlife is there for a purpose and to exclude by extermination any garden resident is asking for an imbalance in the ecology that may prove to be worse than the so-called 'problem'.

I for one am a gardener and a lawn owner that doesn't mind seeing the presence of moles in my garden because I understand the place they have and the benefits they provide. I am not driven "insane" by them and have no urge to go out and exterminate them all with heavy metal jaw traps that crush them.

Honestly, I worry about the mentality of gardeners that do and I also question the ethics of recommending the circumvention of the law by travelling out of state to purchase the illegal traps. It doesn't seem like a very responsible course of action and very out of keeping with our role as gardeners as stewards of the environment. I think the point is to reduce our footprint on the earth, not increase it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 11:15AM
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One incredibly vigorous mole came into this yard when we first dig our 5 creeklets and painstakingly lined them and the banks with deep vertical rocks and planted extremely expensive Fleur De Lawn everywhere for erosion control, not to mention the 300+ baby trees. This moles collapsed every bank and ate the roots of the baby trees. It cost us over $1000 to keep re-doing the banks and tree wells while we were trying every method OTHER THAN the traps to discourage the mole from the yard.

It tooks months to catch the thing via trap, finally, in a neighbor's yard (it tore up 4 neighbor yards also).

That experience definitely changed my mentality to the "Get rid of it immediately at any cost." Before then I had never killed anything.

This summer when a mole popped up in the ROOTS of our newly planted Hazel Smith sequoias we set out those 4 traps that night. Still took a few weeks to catch it while it tore through several new plantings.

After a few thousand dollars of repeated plantings and efforts yep sirree no moles allowed in here. Maybe when these trees have grown and become established the moles won't harm them so badly but now, no way. And it seems they'd wreck the groundcovers even when the trees are established, don't know.

Have lots of earthworms to work the soil. Another thing the mole did was establish a tunnel system that exposed the tree roots and diverted the water away from the trees, all that water running down where it was not needed.

So before you get on your high horse and get snotty, insulting and judgmental about my experience or mentality, try to understand how your precious moles might not be so welcome in other yards. We don't all have established gardens yet or endless $$$$ 1000s $$$$ of dollars to continually replace mole damage and never be able to see our trees grow up.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:36PM
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So much for my deer traps.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 12:45PM
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grrrnthumb(z8 WA)

Gardengal first I want to say that although I may disagree with some of your comments, they show you are a kind person. For that I admire you very much. :) But please consider rationally a few points:

1) Regarding your questioning the ethics of some here, you said yourself it was not the original intent of the law or of the main backers to include moles. Legally, intent IS the law.
2) When you called into question the sanity of those who wish to trap moles, perhaps your circumstances are different from theirs? I'm guessing you either have no lawn or have a very poor one that you take no pride in. Just like you have a passion (obsession you've said) for certain plants, others resonably have different passions. Some are for beautiful lawns. Just as you work hard and focus on your garden and take pride in your plants, so do others with their lawns. The anihallation of their many hours of hard work, the slow destruction of one of their most prized possesions will often resonably bring one to the neccessary use of lethal means.
You are a pesticide consultant; surely you understand the occasional use of lethal means to protect your garden? So really it's a question of degree: how much more valued is a mole than a gypsy moth, or say a large rat? It can't be just about size, most of us are responsible for the daily killing of cows, chickens, and fish for our food.
3) Regarding upsetting the balance of the garden by removing moles, a garden is by definition an artificial imbalance of the natural landscape. That's the whole point! If you don't exercise control over the conditions in your garden, then you don't have a garden. :)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 1:22PM
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mermaj(Oregon City, 8)

In support of my housemate Cascadians I want to add the following facts: Our yard and garden is completely organic, we have 26 "bird stations" (feeders, baths, water sources) around the yard, we are a certified wildlife habitat with an abundance of critters living and passing through here.

Sadly, we simply cannot be tolerant of the moles which have, with their tunnels, endangered the trees that are a major part of the habitat here. It took us a whole year to come to terms with trapping them and it truly pains us to kill them.

So, this "questioning of mentality" judmentalism really pokes a sore and painful spot and if you really are questioning and not just judging then ask a question! If you want to know something you ask a question. If you want to stand on a high horse and pontificate about your own practices then continue wondering and speaking.

I applaud tolerance of all creatures and supporting all life but sadly, we had to vote against allowing the mole to kill the plants and trees that will support other life. Like Cascadians said - maybe after these trees and plants are well established we will be able to tolerate the mole - I hope so - I don't like trapping them and I don't like killing anything - nor does Cascadians.

As for supporting illegality -- if the law was established to protect fur-bearing animals (conceivably because they were being over-exterminated by people trapping them for their valuable - marketable furs) well then show me the market for real moleskins and I'll say it makes sense. Since it obviously does not, it seems within the spirit of the law to acquire a trap for moles if it is killing off your garden plantings even if it is not within the letter of the law.

We tried everything else and if anything else had worked we would have stuck with it. The only think that worked were the traps.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 1:27PM
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When the first mole appeared and wreaked havoc I posted threads asking for advice on so many forums, even craigslist. Most of the responses were hilarious and many homespun methods suggested. One of the funniest was the farmer who had several sons who all went and peed down the moleholes for months. They said it did not deter the moles but their yard really stunk. Little more difficult for women to accomplish!

We tried the sonic instruments, the zappers, the gum, the hair, the cougar urine, the fox urine, the mole poisons you squeeze out of the tubes, the bushes that are supposed to naturally repel moles, playing obnoxious music into their holes, smoke, running hose water copiously down the tunnels, etc etc etc etc. We did not sit out for hours with shotguns to blast them away but several guys recommended that. There's a daycare next door and we didn't think the shotgun thing would be appreciated.

There's a lot of water in the late fall/winter/early spring here, a swamp, and lots of worms, amazing amounts, plus we spread wormcast for fertilizer and have a worm bin and compost pile, and apparently the moles love these conditions. If they hadn't killed a whole bunch of expensive trees and collapsed the banks and wells repeatedly they could have stayed but the amount of sheer destruction one mole wrought was overwhelming. These things travel far and fast in just one day.

We thought we were plagued by armies of moles but our yard guy said it was most likely just one, usually one per acre until they have babies, but after a few months the babies set off for their own territory. Once you exterminate the mole from the yard another mole soon comes by and takes up residence in the tunnels.

Our yard guy had to use 52 long concrete pavers and lots of wood, rocks and spikes to shore up the banks enough so the soil didn't keep repeatedly washing away. It cost a lot to have dumptrucks bring in 1000s of yards of soil and horse manure only to watch it disappear in the foaming rushing whitewater as the the creeks overflowed the collapsed banks and washed all the earth and hard work and sculpting away.

If we had let that mole continue to do its thing we would have nothing but weeds and standing water in here which is what it was when we bought the house May 2005.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 2:20PM
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There was a garter snake that ate 3 or 4 mole babies. That was so inspiring that we posted a thread on craigslist seeking a gopher snake or any snake/s that feast on moles. Then we found out it was illegal to buy native snakes or toads (for the slugs). Kind of weird to not be able to buy native predators but there must be reasons. Anyway the plea for snakes also elicited a lot of mole-extermination advice which we tried but nothing worked but the traps.

Some of our attempts and anguish is archived on threads on gardenweb. I'm still kicking myself to this day that I waited for months and lost so much time, money, dirt, groundcover and trees because I was trying to be kind to that damn mole and persuade it by non-lethal means to leave the yard.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 2:29PM
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catkin(UDSA Zone 8)

I live in SS WA and my DH bought traps at Home Depot. We only caught one--the others have made a huge mess of our lawn. :(

They seem to have disappeared for now.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 9:27PM
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Intent is the law?? "Gee Officer, I intended to go the speed limit, but I guess my foot was just too heavy." Sure, that one's gonna fly!! The law is the law and is not open to wiggle room. If moles were mistakenly or unnecessarily included in this broad legislation, which apparently even the Humane Society admits is the case, then it is necessary to amend the law and the anti-mole forces out there should be actively advocating to change the law rather than recommending someone break it. Or do we just observe those portions of the law that are convenient for us?

It is hard to imagine the scope of the "destruction" that cascadians describes as being attributed to just a mole (or moles). I'd suspect mountain beavers or other, larger rodent involvement as well. But I'll take her word for it. As to anihilating a lawn, well that's a bit of a stretch. Lawns are pretty simple things to repair if damaged by moles. Other than creating the mounds, which are admittedly unsightly, moles are actually improving the soil under the lawn. How hard is it to destroy the mounds by just refilling the soil back inot the tunnels? It is reported that simply whacking the tops of the tunnels that connect the mounds with the back of a shovel sets up shock waves that the moles dislike and they move out. Has anyone bothered to try?

I do have a lawn and a very nice one, too. But I am conscious of what an ecological drain a lawn is as well and keep it to a moderate size and maintain it naturally. And don't feel the need to go to war and call out the heavy artillery if a mole shows up. His right to be there is just as valid as my own. Nor do I advocate the use of "lethal" methods (if you mean resorting to toxic chemicals) in the control of other garden pests. As a pesticide consultant, I promote IPM above all, which advocates the use of natural, non-disruptive methods first - there is nearly always alternate way that does not require the application of chemicals to resolve the problem at hand.

I realize that my approach and methods my not be everyone's - as a lifetime professional gardener I have learned that is far less frustrating to exercise a large degree of tolerance when it comes to approaching the natural world. Gardens do not grow in a pristine fashion and nature intervenes - you live with it and move on. Perfection is not necessary and if carefully, considered, seldom even desired. It indicates stasis, which a garden cannot, by definition, achieve.

My biggest objection about the previous posts is that 1) a broad assumption was made that anyone who gardened was driven insane by moles and could not have supported the legislation and 2) they encouraged breaking, or at the very least circumventing, the law by purchasing and using illegal traps.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 8:50AM
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IMHO this law was carried by the urbans of King County where Seattle is located. Its population is high in proportion to its area when compared to the rest of the state. The law bans the use of scissor traps not all trapping of fur animals. But beyond that I can live with the moles. They don't eat plant roots but yes they can rearrange plantings. If you really need to get rid of the moles then Corey, slug bait people, have come up with a mole poison that tastes/smells like worms. Tom

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 8:58AM
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mermaj(Oregon City, 8)

Gardengal: The statement about the intent of the law has to do with what the *law* intended to do and the efforts of a citizen to conform with the intention of the law as opposed to the letter of the law. If a person intended to go the speed limit (or intended not to kill a mole) and did not go the speed limit (or killed a mole) then it is just what you say it is garden gal: lame excuse-making. The intention of the mole law in Washington was apparently to protect fur-bearing animals but not specifically intended for moles (as I read your very own post above). So, that is consistent with what grrrnthumb means about intent being the law and consistent with ethical thinking. Obeying the letter of the law has not always served well but that would probably be a topic for legalweb as opposed to gardenweb.

Yes, it is hard to imagine the destruction one mole caused but it had a lot to do with the stage our yard was in at the time. It is much more stable now and the mole could not destroy the creeks in that same way because concrete and our plantings are now controlling the erosion and the trees are sopping up moisture and so on but we still have some very tender stuff to protect and the creek banks could be affected with a vigorous mole until they are more bound by roots.

It's not too surprising that your post was not well received considering you seem to have an answer for why other's experience is not truly valid and we should just feel the way you do about moles in your yard. Again, it's nice that you are able to tolerate it, truly glad for you but the ability to have compassion has to do with some attempt to understand the feelings and experiences of others even if you don't agree with it.

In addition to your objection regarding the legal discussion, you say your other biggest objection was " 1) a broad assumption was made that anyone who gardened was driven insane by moles and could not have supported the legislation". You could have saved yourself the fret if you had read what was actually said which was: "...WHY Washington has that law don't know -- no gardener or lawn owner or anybody trying "humanely" to deal with it and gone insane is behind it." Nothing there about *all* gardeners being driven insane by moles just us folks who have tried everything humane that did not work!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2007 at 12:34PM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

I came across this in the Peaceful Valley catalog. They could be used to protect root systems from moles by making baskets. I've made chicken wire baskets for my tomatoes since I've lost plants to mole tunneling, but this wire looks much better for it. They also sell a 4' wide roll and they sell ready made baskets too. Just do a search for them.
My neighbor shoots them, but we don't have any guns, so that's out for me ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Gopher Wire

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 12:49PM
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Wow.....interesting thread. I thought after reading gardengal's post that most here were going to agree with her. Then I had to double check the url to make sure I wasn't on the Lawn Forum! :)
Like her I've learned to live with the little guys. They tend to stay in the flower beds and when they do wander into the lawn area I just put a rock down the hole, refill and spread the soil. In a few months the grass has covered it again.

Anyway, I have to agree that I doubt any mole is capable of destroying trees and creek banks. My money would be on the culprit being a gopher, groundsquirrel, nutria, muskrat or a smaller rodent.

The gopher wire mentioned above is a great product. It was the only thing that allowed me to have a garden when I lived in Calif. Gophers will chew right thru the rootball of a tree and then eat the roots while he's there!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 8:26PM
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mermaj, I don't much care if my post was "well received" or not. I didn't respond to win a popularity contest but to try to stimulate a more moderate approach to mole control. I'm sorry if my point of view offends you, but I find it extremely offensive to advocate the rather brutal slaughter of one of nature's creatures and to encourage others to break the law (regardless of how you justify it, that's what it boils down to) to do so as well. And just to have a well-manicured lawn. That says something rather unfortunate about our priorities.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 11:42PM
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"And just to have a well-manicured lawn." Good grief, you have no reading comprehension. We don't even have a lawn. We have creeks and trees. 1000s of words above to describe our situation, but your ignorance is stubborn.

And yes a mole definitely destroyed our yard repeatedly, which one would realize by reading our posts. These were newly made creeks, fragile, constructed with imported dirt which was finely ground, and tiny baby trees.

When we finally caught the mole, it was a big fat one, and all the destruction immediately stopped. We had several witnesses as we asked for help in many places. When we caught the mole we took it to all the neighbors so they could see and we all celebrated.

The bottom line is we will allow NOTHING to destroy our trees. After this thread I think the mole was smarter than many humanimals. We stuffed so much down every hole, yep even that stuff that's supposed to simulate worms to the mole, and he evaded everything for many months while ripping up 5 yards.

The neighbors didn't care as they were busy destroying their own yards with bulldozers, but we got permission to set mole traps in their yards too which was fortunate because it was east of our yard where he finally expired instantly in that trap.

That damn mole cost us thousands of dollars and months of lost time and lost trees and lost dirt and lost money. Any mole that sets foot in here will be dispatched asap and its eradication is my sole focus of existence until it's gone.

In fact the mere thought of going through all that again is enough to go buy whichever gun is most apt to blast any mole the instant that telltale mound of fresh wet earth pops up smack in the middle of another young tree root base.

Well, I learned something today: the mole was definitely smarter than some humanimals. That mole is probably doing cartwheels laughing his furry whiskers off in heaven at the continuing mayhem he caused. He sure got around fast and plowed through amazing amounts of dirt. All the horse manure, soft aerated wet dirt and fat wriggling red worms must have totally energized him.

We have pictures of all this and we'll post them when we find them. Our frustration and the months-long saga is well documented on several forums. It's hard to fathom why some of you don't comprehend -- maybe y'all are lucky enough to have old growth yards with centuries old rivers and can't imagine creating an ecosystem from scratch with only weeds and 4' of standing water, rototilling it all to 12" deep then importing 1000s of yards of 4-way-blend and horse manure all ground to a very fine powder -- it was incredibly messy and muddy and that mole just knocked big holes through the new fragile banks and tree wells and the rushing water carried everything away to Abernathy Creek and the Clackamas and Willamette River confluence. We're in a major watershed with a terrible runoff problem and that mole was a DISASTER for our yard.

But enough typing, no amount of explanation can penetrate those who just want to think their little obstinate self-righteous snooty thoughts and never try to visualize the experiences of others. You're locked in your own little narrow world and there you'll stay and ossify.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 12:17AM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

Cascadians, did you see my post about the gopher wire? You might want to think about doing that, since it is typical that when one mole is caught, another will come in and do damage before you can catch it.
I much prefer they stay in the lawn and out of the beds, but they go where the ground is moist. They like it around the septic drain field, so we always have bare spots, which then fill in with weeds, but I'm not after the perfect monocrop lawn.
I have a pond site dug out and they've been destroying the plant shelves I created, so I'm going to forget doing that and will just have sloped sides. I do look forward to a time when I can garden without them! I've done a lot of work that I wouldn't have done without them, such as putting in wide concrete edging along my gravel paths to prevent them from dumping soil onto the gravel. It's a lot of concrete!
I've lost some young tress to them also. I suspect they are causing the decline of my lace leaf jap. maple too, by leaving gaping holes in the root zone. I've lost several other plants to them too, when they plow through the root system of smaller plants.
Last spring I put the castor oil pellets in the planting holes and on top of the soil around new plantings and it seemed to help keep them away.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 12:46PM
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When there are mounds in or around our "nature trail," i just ignore them. But when they come up into the home and garden area, i do kill them, vengefully. And yes, it really is an astonishment for me to feel that way, because at one time, i would have thought myself utterly incapable of killing a living thing. The damage one mole can do is amazing ... and i simply do not have the funds to rebuild, reshape, replant, ect ...

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 1:28PM
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Ratherbgardening, yes I read your post about the gopher wire with great interest; it sounds like a wonderful product; wish something like that would work here but it won't because I've planted seedlings and saplings of the world's biggest trees every inch of this yard and can't have anything obstructing the massive root growth that will (hopefully) occur over the years. Thank you for posting that wonderful suggestion though!

Lots of coast redwoods, sequoias, dawn redwoods, willows, sweetgums, black cottonwoods, thujas, aspens, tulip trees, locust trees, magnolias, eucalypti to 230' tall, etc etc etc -- over 300 trees.

Yes the moles love wet earth! We have such a drastic water problem in winter we had at least 30,000 concrete cottage stones brought in to build retaining walls and try to channel the water away from the house where the mounting water pressure in the crawlspace was about to tip the house off the foundation. We also put in a massive flagstone path to have someplace not to sink in the mud and water and actually be able to walk down the yard.

It's ironic because it's so dry in summer. The last 9 months here in Portland, every month has been below average rainfall! We're in a drought. But when it does rain the entire runoff from the Cascade foothills above us comes into our yard (city didn't plan for drainage at all) and what a mess. We planted swamp trees and massive trees (when grown) that will soak up this water. It was bad enough but then the idiot neighbor to the east (uphill) took a bulldozer to his yard and dug a trench in desperation to channel away the water that was geysering up his basement walls and in the process smashed a 110-year old abandoned concrete giant pipe that ran the flood to Abernathy Creek, so instead it all comes rushing in here.

All this winter water makes a very high water table that leaves the ground soggy in spring when land near us is already drying. The moles head here for the moisture and worms and easy soft dirt.

We have creeklets we dug throughout the yard. The most damage the mole did was in the backyard although he got everywhere. We have a few rolls of film developed specifically of the destruction and when I find those I'll take them to Costco, have them put on CD and then post them here.

Meanwhile here's some pictures of just a smidgen of the walls we built to try to contain and channel the waterfalls that storm into our yard in winter. Between every set of retaining walls are creeklets.

This is just a fraction of the beds we had to build. There's lots lots more! Most of these pictures are from early spring 2006, 1st spring after 1st round of plantings December 2005. We've added more than 4X as many trees since. Several of the trees in these pictures died because that damn mole plowed through their rootballs.

You can see some of the creeklets in that last picture. We had to line the bottoms with river rock as cobblestones, and line all the banks with 1' long vertical rock shards. It took months to construct the labyrinthe of walls and creeklets and edging to channel the water. The banks were extremely fragile with crumbly dirt. And then the water came rushing through with whitecap fury and froth and force. When the mole knocked through the bank walls it collapsed them and all that work and dirt went rushing out the yard. This happened multiple times while I was trying every compassionate means possible to persuade the mole to leave.

Unfortunately none of the neighborhood cats who prance thru the yard ever caught the mole although recently we did find a dead one in the neighbor's yard, yea! Lots of cats around here.

Lots more pictures coming soon.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 3:23PM
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This is the same view as the 7th (2/16/06) picture down, taken 9/3/07, so 19 months and 2 weeks later, cannot see the house any longer or even those walls -- trees growing. Can't wait until after the 3-year establishment period when they'll finally leap!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 4:39PM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

I always wonder why they let houses be built in areas like that. It makes no sense to me at all when there's that much water. What a lot of work you've done! It looks great.
The wire I mentioned won't restrict root growth at all, they just grow through it and you can make one or buy one ready made that is large enough to let the root system get to a good size before they got through the wire. I've found in my 12 years of gardening on this property that tree in 5 gallon pots did fine when planted in mole areas. The new trees in the woods do fine too and there is a lot of activity out there.
I've seen people put in concrete banks or concrete over all of it for streams, but it could be a lot of work. I'd think soil with a lot of clay in it would be more suitable for banks too.
How big is your yard?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 7:10PM
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The yard is not nearly big enough. 1/4 acre, 150' X 75', house is one level 2300 sq ft, takes up a lot of the land.

You're right, they shouldn't have let houses be built here. I guess they didn't for years but finally somebody pushed permits through. It was always a wild swamp before.

The soil under all the stuff we brought in is heavy clay.

I've always read that any wire will girdle roots and kill the tree. We had some large trees delivered Dec05 with wire baskets so we bought a big wire cutter to snip off every centimeter. Same with all twine and burlap.

The city we're in has aerial photos of all the properties from a few years back to last summer. This summer's should be in soon. I'll post those when I have time later. Right now I have to go back out there and water! They say rain is coming Sunday, sure hope so. In fact there's a forecast for snow in Washington State!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 7:47PM
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Gee cascadians, it's all about you, isn't it? Before you go getting personal and making direct disparaging comments about other posters' intellegence, you might want to go back and reread what has been written. My reading comprehension is fine, thank you very much, as the comment about the manicured lawn was relating to the original post, not to your situation. And I'd say your situation with the mole (if that is indeed what caused the damage) is unusual to say the least - moles seldom create the type of damage you describe. In 20 years of gardening/consulting professionally, I've never encountered mole damage that extends beyond massive tunneling and some plant dislodgement. However the extreme changes in topography you have undertaken may have disturbed more typical behavior. And the fact that the property is grossly overplanted may have contributed greatly to your specific situation.

Just don't assume that your experience is characteristic of general mole behavior, because it is not.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

Ok, I get it now! I didn't think about the roots of large plants getting girdled. I guess in that case you could use chicken wire to help them get established, then it would rust out before it could do any harm.
So the gopher wire should just be used for smaller plants. Thanks for clarifying that!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 12:36PM
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Not to change the subject but holy cow! 300 trees on a quarter acre? I thought you were on a big rural plot somewhere until your last post. Seriously, you may want to do some thinning while they are still young.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 1:59PM
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Ratherbgardening, I'm a newbie and am learning, don't know how fast chicken wire will rust away into nothing. There's threads on gardenweb with very experienced posters saying that the old school way was to leave wire on but they found that there wasn't enough oxygen in the ground to make it rust as fast as they had previously thought. So I'm just being ultra-careful. It's very difficult to spend lots of $$$ on a tree and baby it and then see it die; I'm doing everything to keep them alive and thriving! and have read root zone growth is very important.

Sounds like you have the perfect mole solution for your garden and for that thank your lucky stars! ;^)

I've learned to read these forums every day for more info. When I first planted, all the planting instruction tags on the trees turned out to be wrong (which of course we followed to the letter). It said to dig a deep hole and amend it etc ... live and learn ... just praying the tree roots aren't too content with the super good dirt and afraid to venture out into the clay.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 2:10PM
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Digdig, we were advised by the city and an arborist to overplant because they didn't think everything could survive the conditions here. That mole did accomplish quite a bit of thinning by killing a good percentage of our first plantings, including some very expensive hemlock and sitka spruce etc. That freaked me out so we planted even more, LOL

So far, so good, and we'll probably become very well acquainted with pruning shears. I did 24/7 nursing care for 2 decades in the greater Portland area, often on grand old estates, where old-time gardeners 100 years ago and further back planted masses of gorgeous trees and bushes that intermingled and made fantastically beautiful gardens. Took care of the matron of the Meier & Frank clan for over a year, lived with her, watched her gardener keep the 11 acre estate in stunning shape. She had been the prez of the garden club for years and had the most amazing variety of plants all jumbled together in a riot of color and interest and beauty. I was very fortunate to see the most exquisite gardens before they fell to the developers, and was an interior designer at the Arizona Inn in Tucson before they decided to take out most of their very beautiful plantings, so I know it's possible to have a lot of trees and bushes co-exist happily in utter beauty. That's what I'm aiming for! It will be a learning experience :-)

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 2:20PM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

No, I don't have the perfect solution for moles, just a solution for some of the problems they cause. If I did, I'd market it! :) They've just won the battle and I got tired of setting traps, because if you don't get it in their main tunnel, then your time is wasted and you have to keep trying and trying. This year they seemed worse for some reason, maybe more food available. Plus I know that every time I trap one, it won't be long before another one takes over the territory, so I'll never be free of them here.

Deer really give me more trouble overall. Where did ya get those deer traps Ian? ;)

My neighbor trapped a couple, but apparently not the one or 2 on our property. I set out a couple of traps, but they'd move to another area each time I set it, so I gave up. I really don't like doing it any way. I'm just glad there's only 1 or 2 per acre!

Chicken wire doesn't last long in the PNW when it sits in wet soil, maybe a year or 2. Try it on a few plants and see how it goes.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 3:13PM
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misslemonverbena(z8 Portland,Or.)

"before you get on your high horse and get snotty, insulting and judgmental about my experience or mentality, try to understand how your precious moles might not be so welcome in other yards. We don't all have established gardens yet or endless $$$$ 1000s $$$$ of dollars to continually replace mole damage and never be able to see our trees"

Wow. I can't even imagine what it costs to buy 300 trees let alone that huge quantity of ugly fake rock. Beyond my budget, that's for sure.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 2:55AM
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Ratherbgardening(PNW 7 or 8)

Annz, I was just curious as to what size rock you put down their holes. They push up the rocks from our septic drain field, but it's just the size of gravel used on driveways.

The article posted by gardengal stated that there could be more per acre than I had read about in the past. Maybe what I read was referring mostly to males.

I wish I had known about that gopher wire before I did my vegie beds. I would've lined the bottom of the beds with it to slow them down. Oh well, I'll have more knowledge for the next house, if we end up with moles again.

Now that my flu bug is on it's way out, it sunk in how many trees there are on your 1/4 acre. That is a lot! I doubt our 2 acres of forest has that many. I assume a lot would be lost due to comepetition for root growth, nutrients and light. The retaining walls will block some of the root growth and moles like to run along walls, foundations, sidewalks, etc. too. They probably like all the soft soil you provided for them too. ;) I know they like the areas I improve; nice and soft and easy to move through, plus all the worms compost attracts.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 2:35PM
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I should have said small stone............about 2" diameter.

You must have one strong mole to push up gravel from the septic field! We have ground squirrels that do that, but the moles tend to stay out of the septic area and in the beds and lawn perimeter.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2007 at 9:43PM
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Well, it is an experiment and will certainly be interesting to see which trees survive. I don't know how the big trees planted in tiny street squares survive, surrounded by asphalt and concrete with only a couple inches around their trunks. How do the roots get water?

There are lots of hidden underground springs running down just under the original clay surface in this yard so the tree roots will get water when they reach that point. We're blanketing the ground 3 times per year (Feb 1, May 1, August 1) with pure rich wormcasting so there's good organic nutrients. Recycle those leaves!

We never wanted to buy the cottage stones but were told by several inspectors / consultants that that is the best and cheapest way to build retaining walls and channel water (along with open creeklets). The city came and helped us with lazer-guiding the drainage creeklets and lots of advice. They said french drains don't last long-term and get clogged. The cottage stones are made by Mutual Materials with a contract with Home Depot for good prices on massive deliveries. The landscape expert said it's cheaper and easier and more effective than pouring cement. Each 'stone' weighs 30 pounds and they said the method is "idiot proof" and more manageable for women than the heavier larger bricks.

The whole point is controlling the water enough so it doesn't tip the house off the foundation. We saved a lot of money on the house and put that into the yard -- what we were looking for, a place to make Eden. And it's working! This last week with sudden deluges, pouring thunderstorms and lots of rain -- it's all draining perfectly. Once the water learned where to go along the cobblestoned creeks it remembered even after we put big rock slab dams every couple feet and removed some cobblestones and partially filled in the creeks so the incredibly fast rush of the whitewater didn't carry all the topsoil out of the yard as it did when the mole collapsed the banks.

We planted lots of miniature ivy varieties and euonymous fortunei varieties along all the walls -- these climb any vertical surface and are now starting to grow and climb. Also vinca minor varieties have gone prolific and drape down then root below, so the walls are barely visible. We'll be pruning and shaping all these vines so we can see the moss-covered walls peeking through a little. They become very pretty and interesting with age.

It's been 1 year 9 months since the first set of plantings, and the yard has changed dramatically, from nothingness wasteland to vibrant layers of green and lots of birds.

We started out knowing absolutely nothing except we love trees. That's why I read these gardening forums -- to learn and share. If only every person on earth worked to make their spot a paradise, think how sumptuously gorgeous life would be.

If we get through next summer's heat and dryness without too much die-back I think we'll be on the way to a thriving jungle here. AND prevent any mole from wreaking havoc on this still-fragile emerging mini ecosystem.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2007 at 2:03PM
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i know i am resurecting a old thread but no one ever answered this .. there is a endangered / threatened mole, vole or gopher in the north west that needs a bit of help unfortunately this caused the ban most likely nd still there are too many of the common ones..if you can live trap it and kill the non endangered or threatened ones.. i cant recall of find the reference at the moment and have no idea how to live trap them but that is why the traps are banned

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 12:05PM
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Just a point of clarification: there are NO "endangered" (LOL!!) moles or voles or gophers in this area that need to be protected. ALL body gripping or maiming traps were banned in 2000 by public initiative, not just mole traps. This was done not to protect endangered species but to prevent unnecessary pain and suffering to the trapped animal, which is often only trapped and injured, not killed outright. And to prevent harm to pets and children (and adults) that may unsuspectedly encounter these traps.

Any live or have-a-heart traps are still legal and acceptable.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 1:36PM
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mercurygirl(z8 Puget Sound)

"prevent any mole from wreaking havoc on this still-fragile emerging mini ecosystem."

OMG, that would be funny if it wasn't crazy. Planting ivy to top it off.

*eyes rolling*

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 8:15PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

Ivy in any form is a mistrake.
Been there, done that.
Dwarf Ivy will revert to a quick spreading thug in no time.
Yeah, the leaves are small, but the spread is almost as great as if weren't a dwarf. Reversion is common....especially when you're not looking.
I'm speaking from experience. I wish I had never planted any variety of Ivy.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 11:50PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Cascadians, who used to argue doggedly for planting of weeds like ivy and yellow flag as well as other mistakes apparently because it suited her own personal inclinations at the time appears to have left this board some time ago.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 12:51PM
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mercurygirl(z8 Puget Sound)

well, good riddance. now i see those posts are pretty old, thank you bboy.

i have nothing to add about traps, sorry. just to echo someone earlier, i think moles are a relatively harmless indicator of good soil.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 1:57PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Collapsing of banks doesn't sound like moles to me.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 10:22PM
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I had a mole or vole problem this past spring in a patch of newly planted grass. I was very irked. I shoved a garden hose into the hole and turned it on full blast. The tunnels were shallow enough that I could see them from the surface. So I shoved that hose into about five different spots and flooded out all the tunnels I could see. then crushed them by walking on them. Haven't had any problems since then. the weird thing though was that the water just kept flowing. They must have an extensive tunnel systems.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 1:45AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, when I've tried it the water just kept going and going.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 1:19PM
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Patrick888(z8 SeaTac WA)

After quite an onslaught of mole problems all over my property (previously rather free of mole hills), they seem to have disappeared - perhaps killed or run off by the rats that took over & enlarged their tunnels?! Now it's the rats that I'm going after. They have quite a liking for tomatoes and any other fruits & veggies that start to mature. They even went after opium poppy pods while they were still unripe.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2010 at 11:35PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Which you're not supposed to be growing, even though many people do - including nurseries. Scattershot enforcement seems to be the basis for this.

The rats are likely to be Norway rats, if they are living in the ground.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 12:39PM
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Although an opium 'tea' can be obtained from individual plants, it takes a significant number to produce a usable end product narcotic - hardly something most home gardeners growing a few for ornamental purposes are likely to undertake :-) Growing acres of them is another matter. One sees these plants all over during their late spring/early summer bloom season, often at very public places, like local pea patches. Enforcement of the Controlled Substance Act act with regards to these plants is virtually unheard of, unless the scarification of the seed capsules for opium harvesting is obvious or reported.

Seeds and started plants are widely available via very reputable seed companies (i.e., Thompson and Morgan) and local nurseries. If there was a serious issue with homeowners growing them, this is where the enforcement is most likely to occur. Never heard of any :-)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 10:12AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

DEA bulletins state the obvious falsehood that there is no presence of the plant here outside of the rare large fields that are discovered.

And eradicated when agents are alerted.

So clearly the de facto policy is to look the other way most of the time. This does not make growing the plant in any quantity legal. They're spending billions on pot enforcement and still not raiding anywhere near every location where that is being grown either.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDOJ Search:poppies site:www.justice.gov/dea

    Bookmark   December 9, 2010 at 2:04PM
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Mary Palmer

Good grief and WOW! I just read this entire thread and was reminded of what I have missed on this site LOL. Some poor schmuck is trying to sell his house and wanted it to look good for the sale, OMG! He probably left shaking his head in disbelief! The next thing I read are all of the judgement calls for and against traps and lots more... Then we have some long winded posts on drainage issues and moles killing plants,(probably voles or rats using the mole runs) plus a photo of a nice lady petting a cat. Then the discussion ends with talk of opium poppies. No wonder it's so frustrating doing a search on the GardenWeb Forums

    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 1:40AM
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anuparaj(Zone 7 - PNW)

I find these post quite enjoyable and informative. If you check the dates, you'd see that the Moles discussion ended months ago if not years..The rest is just residual banter which I beleive most of us enjoy. :)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 7:43PM
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I still lurk occasionally but am too busy to post much. Fortunately it has been 3 years since we've had a mole. There's a neighborhood cat that lives in the yard and catches everything so that may be why.

No groundcover is surviving. The ivy did for a few years but not anymore in the back 2/3 of the property. Just too wet in the winter. The miniature ivy we planted in the front, which is drier, has flourished and not reverted nor spread much. Contained by the retaining walls. It is the only groundcover that has lived.

This yard is a challenge for many reasons, many neighbor contributing factors (one guy cemented in his entire yard to park his cars 2 years ago). The nastiness here surprises me but that's the internet, judgment without actually being on site to see, or knowing the history, or the consultations of many professional landscapers.

Meanwhile I enjoy the company of the beautiful trees that are growing in the swamp.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 12:43PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Winter flooding will eliminate/exclude a lot of things including ivy. But some other nuisance plants, which might be thought to need good drainage turn out to be able to take it. I've seen otherwise happy looking, riverside Himalayan blackberry with floodwater mud high on the canes.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2010 at 2:59PM
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I loved this thread! The solution I used was a cat and a dog (Lab). Unfortunately the Lab does more damage than the moles!(duh) However, I let him dig when ever he's got a mole in site and he's very good at catching them. I don't let him near the planters and I have plenty of yard for him to dig in. This solution would not work for the pristine lawn - but for my "woodsy natural look" - it works.

The cat leaves me "presents" on the front porch: mice, moles, etc.

I don't like traps, poisons, etc. I do like to allow nature to take it's course though.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2010 at 10:26PM
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