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Author Topic: many dead moles  (Read 11480 times)

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Offline davidlarson

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many dead moles
« on: April 16, 2011, 01:08:25 PM »
I'm not sure if this is really a forester question, but it is a question about something odd happening in my forest, so here goes.
About two months ago I acquired two animal shelter puppies, which means that now I take them for 1/2 - 1 mile walks 3-4 times a day on the trails in the forest around my house.  This means I've been paying much closer attention to the trees, plants, and animals here than before.  During this time, (late winter to early spring in the western NC mountains where I live) I have seen 6 or 7 dead moles.  They are adults, and don't seem injured or malnourished, nor is there any other obvious cause of death.  The one I found this morning was very wet, from a heavy rainstorm last night.  Do any FF members, naturalists or foresters out there have any idea what might be happening?  Do moles drown in their tunnels in heavy rainstorms?  Is this a normal seasonal die-off?  What might be going on?  Any thoughts would be appreciated.
David L.

Offline beenthere

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2011, 01:50:49 PM »
Must be the work of aliens.  ;)
I've never seen a dead mole laying out on the ground, unless I laid it there. That includes one last summer that I think was on top because it ate some poison bait I put in a tunnel.

I've heard of no disease, but maybe that is happening
south central Wisconsin
 It may be that my sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others

Offline Autocar

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2011, 03:57:48 PM »
Ive seen dead moles around here but a cat has a part in it and just plays with them till they die, not sure why they don't eat them.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2011, 04:53:53 PM »
Sorry can't help you with the mole die off. But, if you want to see a lot of mice (most don't), just travel to work (or hunting) in the dark morning hours through a maple forest after the seeds fall off on the ground. I see herds of them. ;D And my experience with mice in the house is they are active in early morning from 2:00 am to 5:00 am.  :) :D
Move'n on.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2011, 05:27:40 PM »
They may be getting into some poison nearby. Are there any newly planted tree plantations nearby?

Offline Banjo picker

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2011, 05:51:33 PM »
There is at least one out in my pasture that I wish would turn up dead. >:(  Tim
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Offline SPIKER

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2011, 08:28:15 PM »
I wish I could see a bunch of them dead in my yard, ggrrrr dang things anyway...
dogs usually wont eat them either, I was told they are rather bitter but havent BBQed one for myself  ::)


I'm looking for help all the shrinks have given up on me :o

Offline Left Coast Chris

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2011, 12:11:23 AM »
Ive seen dead moles on occasion from getting drowned out or getting wet then getting too cold.  We live on leveled sandy loam and farm 3 acres of walnuts.   In the Spring time they begin to forage.  When they do they start doing shallow tunneling and sometimes do not return in the same tunnels.   When they go shallow and start foraging for insects they can get caught by water and either drown or possibly get too wet and get cold.   We flood irrigate and most of the time they surface and the dog gets them but they can die from too much water.
Home built cantilever head, 24 HP honda mill, Case 580D, MF 135 and one Squirel Dog Jack Russel Mix -- Crickett

Offline timerover51

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Re: many dead moles
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011, 01:09:44 AM »
After reading your post, I went and got out my copy of Mammals of Wisconsin, by H. H. T. Jackson.  Note, this is an excellent reference books most mammals of North America.  You get several pages on each mammal covering size, distribution, habitat, and status and habits in highly readable, easy to understand language.  This book and a very similar one, The Mammals of Illinois by Donald Hoffmeister, are ideal reference books for anyone interested in North American mammals.

Based on Jackson's work, I suspect that what you are seeing is moles being caught on the surface during breeding season.  Breeding season in Wisconsin runs from mid-March into April, which is when the moles spend a significant amount of time above ground searching for a mate, making they quite vulnerable to predators.  However, as very few animals will eat a mole, because of a musky odor, you will find them dead and uneatened.  I remember growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago in very sandy soil, which the moles loved, and having our cats regularly deliver dead but intact moles to our back door.  A typical population for moles is one to two an acre, but you can have local concentrations of 8 to 10 per acre.  Given the length of your walks and the timing, you could easily see several dead moles over a period of time.  Some of them may also be killed by cold and exposure if their furs gets wet.

They do drown in their tunnels during floods and heavy rains, and that is a main cause of mole mortality.  Again, when I was young, my Dad would put the hose in one of the mole tunnels and try to drown them or drive them out.  Sometimes it worked, but the soil was sandy enough so that a long tunnel would never flood as the water drained out through the sand too fast.

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