In the first of our features on unique jobs that have stood the test of time to keep people employed well into the 21st Century, NATALIE WALKER speaks to Craig Parkinson, who is kept busy by moles.
A life outside, with the rolling hills of the Pennines in front of you and the sweet sounds of birds tweeting is an idyllic way to spend your time.
For Craig Parkinson, of Tarleton, it is all in a day’s work, as he is a mole catcher.
Whilst it may not appear to be a common-known job, the 52-year-old has many regular clients and is fully booked for the next few months.
He is even contracted by Natural England and the Environment Agency to get rid of moles, which not only ruin the beauty of the landscape, but can cause flooding and a danger to cattle.
With a love of animals, and after being taught how to do it by a game keeper, it seemed a natural career choice.
He says: “I have been catching moles since I was 16. When I left school I was an assistant game keeper at Hornby Castle in Lancaster and the gardener showed me how to catch moles.
“I got made redundant and started doing it myself. I have had other jobs as well as I had a young family to support. I had a milk round and I far,ed sheep at our farm in Tarleton. Around 10 years ago I fully set up again as a mole catcher and set up a website.
“I have always had an interest in animals and I like being outdoors. It is a great office. I have views of the lovely countryside. On a sunny day you can see the Pennines for miles and you can hear the birds tweeting.”
The father-of-two insists catching moles is necessary to maintain the farming industry and keep the local environment safe.
He adds: “I have to catch them to keep numbers down. I don’t go killing every one in site.
“It is about helping farmers in their livelihood. It is about maintaining farmland to ensure the welfare of livestock as mole soil in silage makes in unpalatable for cattle.
“Mole damage can cause significant risk to the environment.
“For example, I have been working in Croston and if there is too much mole activity, it can weaken structures and cause a breach to the flood banks. If the flood banks burst, it would cause an awful lot of damage.
“I work across the North West, covering the Fylde, Ribble Valley, South Ribble, Chorley, Preston and Wigan.
“I also catch moles from private gardens. People don’t want their gardens destroyed by moles.”
Craig, who has two grandchildren, plus another due in April, uses specially designed traps from the 19th century.
He reveals: “I have always used traps which were designed in the late 1800s. They have a tunnel or duffus. There is no better method and they are the most humane, as the traps kill them instantly.
“I then bury the moles.
“I treat them with respect. They are fantastic little creatures but they cause too much damage to farmland.
“When people hear what I do and the reasons for it, they are accepting as they realise it is necessary.”
For a story about a rare mole found in Lancashire click here http://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/rare-white-mole-found-near-carnforth-1-8403231