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Forsyth, Georgia
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May 30, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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May 30, 2018 orter Page 3B MONROE OUTDOORS by Terry W. Johnson II r of us were introduced to the mole in Kenneth Grahame's popular chil- dren's novel, "The Wind in the Willows". The book describes the adventures of Mole and his cohorts Rat, Badger and Toad as they traveled across England's Thames Valley. These stories are so popular they have been read by millions around the world. While we all realize Mole shares little in com- mon with a real mole, have you TERRY W. JOHNSON ever stopped to wonder what a mole is really like? Although two species of moles live in Georgia, only the eastern mole inhabits Monroe County. Moles are only three to seven inches long and weigh but three to five ounces. Females (sows) are smaller than males (boars). The mole's coat is gray- ish brown. The animal's underparts tend to be paler or browner than the rest of the body. This hair is extremely fine, and it can lie either forward or back Consequently it offers little resistance as the animal crawls forwards or back- wards in its tunnels. Mole fur is so soft that England's Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, had a mole- fur coat made for herself. This unusual garment was fashioned from liter- ally hundreds of tiny mole pelts sewn together. The animal's tail, feet, and face are pink. The eastern mole's back feet are much smaller than its front feet. The front paws are equipped with long claws designed to enable the creature to dig through the soil. If you closely examine a mole, you will soon real- ize you cannot see the animal's eyes. This is because its eyelids are actually fused. Consequently, mammalogists believe the eastem mole's eyes can only discern light and dark. Although it appears east- em moles have excellent hearing, they do not have external ears. Instead, the tiny ear openings are hid- den beneath the animal's dense fur. One of the eastem mole's most amazing adaptations for life underground is they can tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide than other mammals. It seems their red blood cells contain a type of hemo- globin that can carry more oxygen than other warm- blooded animals. In addi- tion, moles can actually reuse the air they exhale. Eastern moles live in a variety of habitats includ- ing fields, open woods, pastures, and yards. They have a difficult time try- The tiny eastern mole is the sect pests and aerate the soil. only mole species found in Monroe County. Moles help control in- (Photo/Kenneth Caatania, Vanderbilt University, CC BY-SA 3.0). ing to dig in dry, clay soils burrows are located 5.9- 0.7 acres. such as are found through- 23.6 inches below the sur- The mole lives a solitary out much of the county, face of the ground. These life. In fact, the only time They also try to avoid wet burrows serve as escapes many moles encounter one soils. They prefer instead for the moles during both another is during the mat- to make their home in heat and cold weather,ing season, which occurs well-drained, loose soil. The eastern mole is anduring late winter and The only moles most accomplished excavator. In early spring. of us ever see are those soft soil it can dig new bur- The females give birth to captured by house cats. rows at the rate of 18 feet from two to five young in One reason for this is the per hour. When digging, a subterranean nest lined eastem mole spends 99 moles push excess soil up with leaves and grasses percent of its time in bur- vertical tunnels. This forms some five to 18 inches rows beneath the ground, piles of dirt commonlybelow ground. Nests are During their rare forays called molehills, often located beneath above ground they are easy Eastem moles do not clumps of grass, shrubs, or prey for foxes, owls, hawks, hibernate and are active rocks. When the young are cats and other predators, both day and night. They about four weeks old, they Eastern moles excavate are most active at dawn leave their nests. Moles can two types of burrows. The and dusk. Periods of activ- live upwards of six years. burrows that are located ity last upward of 6.5 hours Moles are voracious eat- close to the surface of the followed by 3 hours of rest. ers consuming the equiva- ground are called tempo- The home range of the lent of 25-40 percent of rary burrows. They are male averages 2.7 acres their weight in food daily. used to search for food. On in size. The smaller home By far, their favorite food is the other hand, permanent range of the female is only earthworms; however, they will also gobble up centi- pedes, snails, slugs, seeds, as well as larval insects such as Japanese beetles. In one instance moles are credited with controlling an infestation of Japanese beetles. Many homeowners consider moles a nuisance since they mar their mani- cured lawns with molehills and are often blamed for undermining ornamental plants. However, this is not the case is some parts of the world. In Germany, moles are protected by law and can only be destroyed with a permit. On the other side of the coin, moles assist in aerat- ing the soil and controlling insect pests. President Theodore Roosevelt so admired Mole and the other characters in Kenneth Grahame's "The Wind In The Willows" that he wrote to the author explaining he "read and reread it, and have come to accept the characters as old friends." Although most of us will never consider moles old friends, perhaps we can at least learn to tolerate them. Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endan- gered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column 'Monroe Outdoors" for the Reporter for many years. Email him at tjwood- duck@bellsouth.net. ~, ~ ;:,ili:i The Monroe County 4-H Senior Team shot a perfect team score of 100. The State Winning Senior Shotgun Team and Master 4-H'ers inclkude Logan Matthews, Parker Henson, Collin Hammock and JD Richards. I By Caitlin Bennett Jackson, Monroe County Extension Coordinator On May 12, over 1,000 4-Hers traveled to Eaton- ton to compete at the 2018 State 4-H Modified Trap competition. Youth par- ticipating in the contest test their shooting skills and aim for a perfect score of 25. This year, four mem- bers of the Monroe County 4-H Senior Team did what hasn't been done in over 30 years, they shot a perfect team score of 100. Team members included: Collin Hammock, Parker Henson, Logan Matthews, and I.D. Richards. In order to qualify for the state contest 4-Hkrs had to first qualify at the district competition held April Lew Story placed as the 4th overall Junior. 21 in Spalding County. Junior (7-8 graders) team members that qualified for State were Zac Acosta, Troy Davis, Justin Nash, Dawson Niblett, Charley Ryles, Ion Thomas Smith, and Lew Sto . Senior (9-12 grades) team members that quali- fied for State were Hunter Benson, CoUin Hammock, Parker Henson, Caleb Jones, Logan Matthews, Hunter Powell, J.D. Rich- ards, and John Coleman Tidwell. Two team members re- ceived overall high individ- ual honors by excelling in shooting singles, doubles, and triples. Parker Henson placed 5th overall Senior and Lew Story placed 4th overall Junior. The team was coached by Certified 4-H SAFE Coaches Scott Henson, Scott Phillips, and Nipper Bunn. If you would like more in- formation about the Mon- roe County 4-H Shotgun Program, please contact the Monroe County Extension Office at 478-994-7014. The Reporter, When Betty Clements of Forsyth needs a tenant for she calls The Reporter and places an old-fashioned really works! As soon as the paper came out she registered nurse who needed a home and had a check in her hand within hours. LETTHE T WORK YOU! ~" her rental home, classified ad. It got a call from a