Release of Casualty Talpa europaea - European mole (Wildlife Casualty Management)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B. This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Release which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Talpa europaea - European mole


  • No pre-release preparation is required if these animals have been in care for a short period of time.

Release assessment/criteria:

  • Released mammals:

    • Must be able to recognise, catch, manipulate, consume and digest their natural diet.
    • Must be capable of normal locomotion (movement) and have sufficient fitness for sustained activity.
    • Must have adequate sensory ability (sight, smell, hearing, touch).
    • Must be of an appropriate weight for the age, sex, and time of year. 
    • Must have a satisfactory hair coat.
    • Must show appropriate wariness of humans and domestic animals.
    • (P19.1.w10, P24.233.w11, J35.147.w1, D27)
  • Appropriate health checks should be carried out prior to release. A careful assessment (risk analysis) must be made as to the risks of released animals introducing novel pathogens (disease agents) into the wild population/environment.
    • These pathogens may have been acquired from domestic animals, other wildlife casualties or humans whilst the animal was in captivity.
    • The health checks should be designed to minimise the risk that pathogens posing a threat to wild populations of this or other species will be introduced into the environment when the animal is released.
    • (V.w5, V.w6, P28.2000.w1)

Selecting a release site:

  • Choose a place away from cultivated land or gardens which may have active mole population control measures.
  • In deciduous forest, not directly onto an area with evidence of current mole activity.
  • Away from roads.
  • Release into leaf letter or on soft soil.
  • (B151, B199, V.w5, V.w26)

Timing of release:

  • Moles should not be released when the ground is frozen or very hard because they may find it difficult to bury into the earth and therefore remain vulnerable to predation.

Type of release:

  • Hard release is generally used when releasing moles.
  • However, it is important to recognise that small prey species rely on the presence of burrows/runs for protection from predators. Release in the absence of such burrows/runs may considerably increase the chance of the animal being caught by a predator in the short term. 

  • Soft release is used routinely when small prey species are released during organised captive breeding and release programmes.

  • (P28.2000.w1)

  • Remain at the release site until the mole has disappeared underground.
  • (B151, B199, V.w5, V.w26)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • Hard release is most appropriate for animals which have been held in captivity for only a short time, for adult animals and for animals being released back into their own territory.
  • The individual animal must, at the the time of release, be healthy, have a reasonable level of fitness and be able to fend for itself in the wild.
  • Diurnal species should be released in the morning, giving them a full day to explore and look for food and shelter before nightfall.
  • Nocturnal species should be released at night.
  • Release should preferably take place during a period of fine weather.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Apparently suitable habitats such as pasture, arable land and gardens may be unsuitable due to mole control being practised there. (V.w5, V.w26)
  • Hard release is least appropriate for juveniles which have been hand reared, particularly species for which learning about their environment and/or social skills are important.
  • Hard release may also be inappropriate for adults which have been maintained in captivity for prolonged periods and/or are being released at a site distant from their original location.
  • Released animals may be at risk of contracting disease if there is an ongoing disease problem in the wild population at the time of release.
  • The wild population may be at risk from novel pathogens (disease agents) carried by a rehabilitated animal. These pathogens may pose the greatest threat to free-ranging populations if the animal is to be released at a site distant from its original location therefore increasing the likelihood of spread of disease. It is important to remember that the casualty wild animal may have acquired disease from domestic animals, other wildlife casualties or humans whilst in captivity. 
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Knowledge of the natural history of moles and whether or not mole control measures are being practised at a given location is required for correct decision making regarding a suitable release site.
Cost/ Availability
  • Costs are limited to those of the time taken to choose a suitable release site and any costs associated with transportation of the mole to the release site.
  • Costs of appropriate health screening.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • The potential risks to the individual being released and to the wild population into which it is being released (also to domestic animals) must be considered before release is undertaken.
  • The potential risk to humans and pets from habituated/tame individuals must be considered.
  • An offence may be committed under Section 1 of the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960 if a released rehabilitated animal does not have a reasonable chance of survival (i.e. a chance similar to its non-rehabilitated peers). 
    • This may include release at an unsuitable site, in the wrong territory, unfit, not having learned to hunt, at the wrong time of year etc. 

    (J35.147.w1, B156.21.w21, B223, W5.Jan01)

  • (J35.147.w1, B156.21.w21, B223, W5.Jan01)
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman

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