Norm Stierhoff received an unwelcome surprise when he visited his mother's grave in the Scott Union Cemetery over the Memorial Day weekend. And he had ground moles to thank for it.
The Margaretta Township resident told Huron Township trustees he found dirt pushed up over the grave marker and brown, dead grass surrounding it.
"I am very disappointed in the conditions out there," he said. "I feel it has gone downhill."
Stierhoff has held the cemetery in high regard for many years and is saddened to see how moles have taken over.
"When my sister died in 1945, my dad buried her there because it was so beautiful," he said.
Huron Township Trustee Ed Enderle, a farmer, promised to look into the situation. He and cemetery sexton Dennis Meinert took the Register on a tour of the cemetery to investigate Stierhoff's concerns.
"The brown grass around the grave markers are in the older sections and we actually kill the grass so we do not have to trim the weeds that grow over the markers," Meinert said. "We have other duties as part of the transportation department, so it helps us cut costs and time. This is the first complaint about the grass I've heard."
The ground moles have dug numerous tunnels around the cemetery and have pushed dirt up to grave markers, partially covering some.
"These ground moles stay busy year round and dig tunnels well underground," Enderle said. "They won't cause any of the markers to turn over, but they do cause a lot of damage to the ground."
He said trapping is the best way to catch them, and because they eat grubs, the township sprayed chemicals to kill grubs.
"You really are never going to totally get rid of them," Enderle said. "But you have to try and control them."
Meinert remembered several months back when the mole problem went untreated.
"They had made a large mound that looked like a pitcher's mound in the middle of the cemetery," he said. "I guess that is where they all turned around at after tunneling."
Enderle said moles are about the size of chipmunks and have large padded claws that allow them to dig deeper than six feet under and push their tunnels across the cemetery.
"There isn't a chance they are going to damage anything other than the ground, but we are trying to find ways to get rid of them."
A company in Norwalk has a pill Enderle said is supposed to be effective and several expensive pesticides are available.
"We will look at the options and try to come up with something," he said.
Meinert walked around the plot in the rear of the cemetery holding the graves of Stierhoff's mother and sister and looked into an open field of blowing grass and trees.
"When Mr. Stierhoff alerted us about the problem we cleared the dirt away for him. I think we have kept this place up pretty good," he said. "It is beautiful out here."
Enderle said there has not been a timetable set for using other methods for getting rid of moles.