Council leader criticised over attempt to kill moles with blowtorch

South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council. - Credit: Rose Sapey

The leader of a Norfolk council, criticised for an old Facebook post where he said he was trying to kill moles with a blowtorch, has said he did not harm any of the animals.

TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham led criticism of South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller over the post, saying he should resign.

The chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust also criticised Mr Fuller, but he said no moles had been hurt in the "experiment" and he had turned instead to mole traps.

In the 2017 post, which has only now come to light, Conservative Mr Fuller, who has led South Norfolk Council since 2007, wrote: "A great day to be killing moles. Another great tool from Machine Mart.”

His post was accompanied by a photograph of him firing flames from a torch into burrows.

Chris Packham protests against the HS2 high speed railway. Picture: Giles Anderson/PA Wire/PA Images

TV presenter Chris Packham. - Credit: PA/Giles Anderson

Mr Packham told the Mirror: "As a councillor he should be setting a standard for those people in his constituency. I think he should resign.”

Pamela Abbott, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: "Moles have protection from cruelty under the Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996 and Animal Welfare Act 2006 and we would ask that Mr Fuller removes his past post as it may encourage similar behaviour."

Pamela Abbott, chief execuive of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Steve Adams

Pamela Abbott, chief executive of Norfolk Wildlife Trust. - Credit: Steve Adams

The trust said it had not received any complaints and that they understood Mr Fuller no longer undertook the activity.

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A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “For legal reasons we are unable to discuss complaints about specific people or addresses and what action may or may not have been taken.” 

When approached, Mr Fuller said: "No moles were harmed in the taking of the photograph.

"Fortunately for the moles it didn’t work in the burrows for the same scientific reason a miner’s safety lamp prevents explosions in a coal mine.

"No moles were killed in the experiment so I went back to tried and tested mole traps.”

mole

Moles are protected under the Wild Mammals Protection Act 1996 and Animal Welfare Act 2006 - Credit: Archant

Mr Fuller, who represents Brooke ward, was made an OBE in the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours list for his public and political service.

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