‘The Mole Man’ Rids Yards of Unsightly Dirt Mounds


When you have a professional mole, you call in the professional mole catcher.

Or, as he’s known in Lewis County, “The Mole Man.”

His name is Paul Rees. The 70-year-old Centralia resident’s mole catching radius spans 50 miles out from the Hub City in any direction. He isn’t the first Mole Man in the area, and he likely won’t be the last. But Rees isn’t worried about business competition.

“There’s so many moles out there,” he said. “Competition just makes people more aware of the service. It benefits me, if anything. I’m so busy, I have trouble keeping up.”

The Chronicle joined Rees in the Adna area on Thursday morning for a glimpse of his mole control tactics at work.

An initiative passed in Washington state two decades ago banned the use of “body-gripping” traps to capture animals. It was around that time Rees left behind most of his work in nuisance wildlife control.

He’s still licensed for the work. Now, however, he only exterminates moles rather than coyotes, beavers and bobcats. Rees uses an underground explosive device that, when triggered, hits moles with 2,000 pounds of force, killing them instantly. 

Though body-gripping mole traps are still widely available at hardware stores, Rees doesn’t use them. The mole man keeps it above board while working below ground. Plus, he said, a quicker death is more humane. 

“Being humane is a high priority to me,” Rees said. “Animals have to be dispatched at times, so you do it in the most humane way you can think of.”

For at-home mole extermination, Rees doesn’t recommend poisons, repellents or Juicy Fruit gum. Poisons tend to look like gummy worms and if a mole digs them to the top of a mound, small children or other animals could be easily fooled into eating them. Repellents just push the mole from one part of a yard into another, he said. As for Juicy Fruit — which is fabled to constipate moles to death — Rees said he’s simply never seen it work.

Most people who call him in to catch a mole have exhausted all the typical anti-mole methods.

“A friend of mine at Dairygold was from Sri Lanka. They had this beautiful backyard, had the fish pond and waterfalls,” Rees said. “They had two moles and had tried everything Home Depot sold to get rid of them. One day at work she goes, ‘My husband’s getting so upset, can you please help me?’ So, I went and set one of these (explosives), and the first one I got about two hours later.”

When unearthed, the explosive device does not bring up a dead mole as a body-gripping trap would. Instead, the device is placed in a plastic bag, and once the bag is torn through, customers can see it’s been set off. The bag also eliminates any human smell.

“They’re about a foot and a half down the tunnel, so I don’t dig ‘em out,” Rees said.

This time of year is often considered mole season, he said, as moles are more actively tunneling during their spring breeding season. He added the main attractant for moles is when yards have underground watering systems. Wet ground attracts earthworms; earthworms attract moles. 

For those old-fashioned types who prefer to exterminate moles with a shotgun, Rees said they better have patience and a big cup of coffee. Over the years, he estimates he’s killed about 15 to 20 moles that way. 

Discharging a firearm is only legal outside of city limits, and the explosive traps are much less time consuming. Even as he explained every step of the process during an interview, it only took Rees about four minutes to set one up.

“As far as what I’ve got since I’ve been doing this business, it’s in the hundreds. I don’t know how many moles I’ve got. Hundreds. I usually run between 70 and 100 devices at a time. I’ve got, I think, 22 active jobs right now,” Rees said.

For first-time customers, the mole man charges an $85 fee that sets them up with mole services indefinitely. Afterward, he charges $60 per mole. 

Besides the boost it offers his social security, Rees does the work because he enjoys it.

“I don’t like killing things. It’s the positive feedback from the customers. I’m on a first-name basis with most of my customers. Because it’s a service that’s needed, and people are happy to get it done,” Rees said. “My little niche.”

For more information, visit the mole man’s website at https://molectrl.com/.