Trigger Warning: This post includes descriptions of the brutal murder of a furry little mammal. Well, I assume a mammal, I didn’t really look.
To be honest, I don’t like to kill things. I mean, it’s a rare enough thing to be alive that just arbitrarily ending it seems a bit brash. Some things, however, practically beg for a quick, honorable finish, an assisted suicide, sort of. I’m thinking of the deer that ran into the side of a speeding Suburban I was driving to work one early morning. That’s right, it ran into me, not the other way around, so I figure I’m off the hook, even though the result was no less permanent for the deer, which was not as easily repaired as the Suburban. Or the occasional squirrels which, having safely reached the other side of the road, lurch back under my wheel at the last possible moment.
I have a friend who cheerfully puts any humans nearby (herself included, it must be said) in peril of serious injury to avoid such encounters, but not I. I respect these animals enough let them have their way.
There’s another category of beast that begs for killing in a whole different way, however. Mosquitos, hornets, cockroaches come to mind. Does even PETA object to swatting mosquitos? Of course, there can be legit disagreement about membership in this category. Definitely a candidate for a slippery slope. Does it include vertebrate pests? Are you let off the hook if you encourage snakes just so you don’t have to kill the mice yourself?
What about moles? They make a right mess, that’s for sure, and live trapping a mole is, let’s face it, laughable. All the same, I would just as soon not kill them. I used to spread stuff around the yard to kill the grubs that moles eat, but unless you put tiny signs around the perimeter of your property to alert them there’s nothing to eat, they still search every square inch looking for the little snacks. Moles do not give up easily. It can take them a month to decide to move on. Then again, on the moral side of the equation, I probably killed many times the biomass of a mole or two in grubs. Who am I to say a mole life is worth more than a grub life? Is the fact that it’s a warm(ish) furry little mammal, and therefore easier for me to relate to than an animal that spends all its time sleeping under the sod … never mind.
So, I turned to trying to discourage the little bastards. Every spring or early summer I spread a mole repellant around. Moles hate it. Of course, if they’re already in the yard, they run around like lunatics trying to get away, and make an even bigger unholy mess, but they do manage to escape in a day or two, and that’s that. For awhile.
Some moles, apparently, have no taste. For them, I have the Victor Mole Trap (VMT), a thing with spring-loaded spikes to skewer the tasteless little devils. True, they might get skewered and squirm around for awhile before dying, but come on. Is mole suffering really the same as human suffering? I worry about stuff like that, but I confess I accept the most feeble loopholes, like “How can you tell what a mole feels when it’s squirming futilely on the prongs of a Victor Mole Trap?” So there it is. It’s a last resort, but I do not hesitate when the time comes. Or keeps coming, in some cases.
Specifically, consider the mole I recently dispatched. It had been burrowing around the yard a good couple of weeks, completely ignoring a generous application of mole repellant. The lawn was slowly but surely turning into a dust bowl, one narrow run at a time. Truthfully, though, it wasn’t so much the damage as the sheer cheek of the animal. its utter disdain for humanity and our inventions. So out came the VMT.
The directions say to carefully tramp down the mole runs, then come back the next morning to see which ones are still active, so you can set the trap on one of those. I figure, why not set the trap on one while you’re waiting? At worst, you have the frustration of seeing all the active runs encircling the one you picked.
Which is exactly what happened. No problem, I just moved the trap over to one of the offending runs.
Now, the VMT consists of six very sharp pointy spring mounted spikes, the spring being strong enough to penetrate the soil and the mole, and probably even a little white grub, if it happens to be directly under the mole in question. In other words, a really, really strong spring. What you do is pull upwards, and at a certain point, a tab engages the trigger mechanism and holds the spikes above ground, but ready to release into mole flesh. One hopes, anyway. Fortunately, there is a little pin which can be stuck into a tiny hole to hold the whole shebang in abeyance until you’ve got it set, and you’re ready to slink away while it does the dirty work for you. Which is nice, because accidentally tripping the thing can be unpleasant.
Being a thoughtful person, I had figured this out (with some small damage to my index finger, I admit). I would leave the trigger engaged, insert the pin, and move the whole thing without having to trip it and reset everything. Brilliant!
Next day, I eagerly examined the results. There was the VMT, six nasty spikes still poised above ground, and mole runs all around it and, I swear, under it. I could just see the little shit laughing and poking the trigger, probably even calling his ratty little mole friends over to try it themselves, all of them sitting around with tiny beers, going on about how stupid humans are.
I had forgotten to pull the pin out of the little hole.
Unbelievable how liberating a couple of minutes of really good cursing can be. At any rate, I could at least see that the run was still active, so I set the trap again, this time carefully removing the pins, and slouched away. Actually, I stomped away, but never mind.
And Voila! I didn’t even make it as far as the back door when I heard a chilling little metallic “snick!” I turned to look, and, sure enough, the trap was down. I decided to give it a little time before pulling it to make sure the critter was dead, then removed it, put it away, stamped down the run, and went in for a drink.
Next day, on the way to the garage and past the scene of the crime, I glanced over. The damned run was up again! I cursed myself for not having waited long enough to ensure the mole was dead, and reset the trap. On the same run. I know, but it was the only one; the mole had apparently not gotten far.
This time, it took longer, not until the next morning. I imagined the mole, mortally wounded but valiantly pushing on, taking all day to get back to the trap. Also this time, I left the trap as it sat for a whole day before I pulled it up. Yes, I could have dug up the mole to see if it was dead, but what would I have done if it wasn’t? Run to the garage for a tiny little shovel to bash its miniscule head in? I was sure I got it this time anyway. Job done.
A couple of days later, sitting on the deck, I happened to glance over at the site of the mole run. Incredibly, it was UP AGAIN! Now resigned to my fate, I repeated the process. At least it wasn’t a gigantic boulder, like Sisyphus was saddled with. Two or three days later, just as I was about to give up, the trap was sprung again. I left it where it was for three days. Surely the mole would starve to death in that time if nothing else. I declined to dig it up, uneasy about what I might find. The line from Macbeth kept running through my head, “Who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?” I pulled up the trap, wiped it off, and put it away.
It’s been a couple of weeks since then. I still occasionally glance over, nervously, at the now barely visible traces of the mole run. I imagine the undead mole, nursing a grudge, plotting revenge as soon as it regained some strength. I wonder how and when it will strike. I will be prepared, this time armed with an oaken stake, to hell with the VMT. All right, it’s a toothpick. Only thing, where exactly is a mole’s heart?