A SHORTAGE of trappers has led to an explosion of the mole population across Cumbria and north Lancashire.

In a bid to address the problem, a mole trapping training course was held at Lane Farm, Crooklands.

Five volunteers who took part in the course heard that the rise in mole numbers was causing increasing problems for farmers and gardeners.

The aim was to teach the volunteers about how to properly use traps to stop moles from digging up farmland and footpaths as well as football and cricket pitches.

One of the people on the course, Andrew Kirkwood, who owns a farm at Old Hutton – where moles are causing him problems – said the lack of mole-catchers was the key reason why the mammals were fluorishing both in the area and across the country.

“You need to have a properly-trained person to get rid of moles,” said Mr Kirkwood. “Moles are like rabbits, and one family can take over a whole field.”

The forays of the moles can also cause cattle to be blinded and sheep to die.

The earth which they dig up can make its way into silage, and once it is eaten it can cause Listeriosis in sheep and cattle.

Mike Ashton, of Warton, who was also on the course, said: “Moles are a problem that is getting worse. There are now very few mole-catchers because it’s a dying trade –the people who used to be in the business are not being replaced and that’s why I wanted to come here today.

“It’s one of the many rural skills which are simple dying out.”

The five people on the course were each awarded a certificate, which proves that they can safely get rid of moles.

People have been advised to seek professional help in catching moles, rather than buying traps and trying to kill them themselves.

* Anyone having a problem with moles can call one of the people on the course, Walter Scrogham, on 015395 62976.