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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 01:09 GMT
Animal charity starts mole count
Mole
Contrary to popular opinion wildlife experts say moles are beneficial
A conservation charity is calling for thousands of volunteers to take part in a national survey of moles.

The People's Trust for Endangered Species says the much-maligned mammal is actually a misunderstood creature which can help gardeners and farmers.

The survey will involve a molehill count because the underground-dwelling animals are rarely seen.

The trust hopes to compile a map of the distribution of the animals to help with future research.

Online survey

Britons have historically had a mixed relationship with the creatures.

Moleskin clothing became so fashionable in the 19th Century that up to 13 million skins were sold a year.

Ways of deterring or terminating moles are a frequent topic of conversation among gardeners.

Wildlife experts say moles are beneficial because they eat insects and aerate the soil with their tunnels, although some farmers are concerned that moles spread the infection listeria to their herds and they can reduce the land available for grazing.

And mole catcher Christopher Venables said simply counting molehills will not give an accurate picture of how many moles there are in an area of land.

The online survey will be taking place until September 2008.



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