Stepping Out

"I have a problem with moles. To be more exact, my lawn has a problem with moles, but I have something of a relationship with my yard. This relationship costs me almost as much cash as does my relationship with my wife, Jeanette, if the kids aren't factored in. In any case, my lawn's problems are my problems. Moles were never a problem at my house in Oak Harbor; during the many years I've lived on Whidbey Island I've never noticed a molehill. That's not to say there aren't any- just a couple of years ago I read an article in the Whidbey News-Times mentioning, if I recall correctly, the first opossum found on Whidbey Island. This may not be an exact quote, but I don't feel the need to break new ground in this column today, anyway. After reading that article, I felt the urge to dig up the dead opossum buried in the yard of my Oak Harbor residence and mail it to the editor for identification. For some reason or other possibly the need to feed my children (and my lawn) I resisted this urge. In any case, I don't want to claim that no moles live on Whidbey Island, even if that might be the case. Please don't mail me any dead moles. I now live in Burlington, and rent out my house in Oak Harbor. (Please, no dead moles in my tenant's mailbox, either!) Burlington is rife with moles. Since I used to work as a pesticide operator, ridding households of carpenter ants, termites, roaches, rats and really nasty fleas, one might think that I know how to get rid of moles no fuss, no muss. One would be mistaken. The company where I was employed didnt specialize in yard pests. Thus, I found myself talking about the problem to one of my coworkers, Doug, the other day. I dont know any way to, say, kill the moles, he said, but I know that if you get rid of what they eat, theyll go somewhere else. So what do they eat? I asked. Grubs, worms, beetles, that kind of thing.So you spread something like Diazinon on your yard?Then they go and dine at the neighbors, he said. We used to sell bags and bags of the stuff when I worked in the agricultural products industry.I checked on the Internet and found that this is a generally accepted method for getting rid of moles. When I discovered this, I couldn't help but think of all the beneficial insects I'd be killing. I wouldn't be taking out just one or two moles. I'd be wreaking havoc upon an entire habitat, be it ever so artificial. It might even be necessary for me to keep our little yappy dog, Griffey, inside the house for a while, even though I sometimes wish it would follow a mole down to caverns deep in the earth and never emerge. In the six years of writing this column I've rarely broached the subjects of land management practices of the Forest Service, the Park Service, of the Bureau of Land Management; I've also left alone such subjects as reintroduction of predators into wilderness areas, the logging practices of Weyerhauser or Crown Pacific, or other political issues. That's because I believe the big issues are whether or not Im going to put Diazinon on my yard, or how I affect the environment while camping or hiking. These are my impacts' actions I have to own. My lawn is just going to have to learn to live with its mole problem. "

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