What's a power pole's worst enemy?

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

WHITE OAK, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas city is facing a unique problem. They are having to replace and protect the power poles in their area. An elusive culprit responsible for the destruction.

"It just became really evident that it was getting worse and worse and we needed to address the problem," said Charlie Smith, the White Oak police chief & city coordinator.

The City of White Oak is at war, not with a foreign power, but with common woodpeckers who are destroying power poles in city parks.

"We noticed we were starting to have an issue two years ago when the woodpeckers were starting to damage the poles," said Smith. "I was quite surprised at the depth of the holes and the length of what you see of the damage inside the poles."

How much damage really could a 12" bird do to power poles? One power pole was dug out down the center 12 to 15 feet. The woodpecker's excavating dangerously weakens the poles. Four have been replaced, dozens wrapped in wire mesh to discourage "Woody".

"And that's cost the city about $32,000," said Smith.

Why are they doing it? They're nesting.

"There's a lot of trees around East Texas and we would hope they would find them a nice one somewhere and build their homes there," said Smith.

There's something about White Oak that the woodpeckers like. Smith wants the birds to thrive, but somewhere else.

In all, more than 20 poles have been damaged in White Oak. But most got protection before the damage became too serious. Since woodpeckers are a "protected" species, they cannot be exterminated.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.