Swedish county declares open season on pesky woodpecker

A resolute woodpecker has residents on the island of Öland off Sweden’s southeastern coast wanting to put down their hammers and reach for a handgun.

The ever-pecking pest has been putting holes in a group of homes in Törnbotten on the island’s western side, prompting residents to seek a culling permit from local authorities to rid their neighbourhood of the bird.

Leif Johansson, whose own house has been subject to repeated attacks from the woodpecker, expressed his frustration over the bird’s repeated assaults.

“There are fist-sized holes in the houses…it costs money to replace those boards. If it makes a hole in my house I need to tear down a whole wall,” he told the Expressen newspaper.

“This woodpecker is totally out of its mind.”

Residents have tried a number of other strategies to get rid of the woodpecker, including pounding nails and pouring tar into holes carved out by the bird’s constant pecking.

“The worst hit house has sixteen holes in a gable. It doesn’t peck like a regular woodpecker that’s looking for food; it never gives up,” said Johansson.

“Oddly enough, it’s only going after nice houses too; it’s totally senseless.”

The county administrative board recently issued a permit authorizing the bird to be killed in order to save homes from further damage.

But the challenge of hunting down and shooting the bird remains formidable.

“The woodpecker stays away when there are people around, so it’s not going to be easy to catch,” said Johnasson.

Nevertheless, he and his neighbours are confident the bird will be dead before the end of the year.