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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Rare discovery surprises Cumbria mole-catcher

Joe Dawes was at first so shocked by his discovery that he dropped it.

Joe Dawes photo
Joe Dawes with the rare white mole

And, as he started to look closely, he thought someone was playing a trick on him. But then he realised the creature inside was what he was looking for – just not in the colour he expected.

For the mole caught in the trap he set was white instead of black.

When the 67-year-old volunteered to use the mole-catching skills he learned as a youngster to help a farmer living near him in Kirkoswald, he never expected to make such a find.

He said: “I saw a tail coming out of the trap, but when I saw a white thing, I dropped it.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought someone was playing a trick on me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Mr Dawes’ find is thought to be so rare that the mole he caught on the Staffield Estate on Saturday is now set to be stuffed and used as an exhibit at Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.

It is a discovery which has certainly triggered interest among those living around him in the Eden valley. Mr Dawes even showed it to friends in a pub in Armathwaite.

“Some people say they have heard of white moles, but I have never come across anybody in this area who has found one, although there will be some out there who have,” he said.

Sightings of non-black moles have been reported before, including those which are white – and even ginger.

Mr Dawes, a semi-retired quarry manager, has found it interesting reprising his boyhood skills of catching moles in the past few weeks. “The farmer has had quite a lot of moles, so I said that if he bought some traps, I would set one or two as a hobby,” he added.

The mole-catcher uses legal scissor-traps, which he believes are the most humane way of controlling the animals. He said: “I’m not one for killing animals, but I would rather see them trapped with instant death than poisoned and hanging about for a day or two.”

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