Woodpecker Kill Approved in One East Bay Neighborhood

Birds have drilled holes into houses for food storage

A controversy is mounting in the Walnut Creek community of  Rossmoor, where two homeowner's associations have obtained permits to have up  to 50 acorn woodpeckers killed.

The birds have damaged properties by drilling holes into houses to  store food and homeowners have been in a "long battle" with the birds, said  Maureen O'Rourke, a spokeswoman for Rossmoor.

Audubon California, part of the National Audubon Society, issued a release Tuesday, expressing concern over the move to kill the birds.

"I know these residents feel they have tried everything to persuade the birds to not use residents' home, but they there are better options," Graham Chisholm, director of conservation for Audubon California, said in the statement.

Two of Rossmoor's 17 homeowner's associations obtained the permits to have the birds killed from the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife  Service in June, according to O'Rourke.

Property that falls into the jurisdiction of the two homeowners associations includes some of the newest buildings in Rossmoor.

"They're in hilly open space areas," O'Rourke said.

She said homeowners spent years trying to rid of the birds before applying for the permits to have the birds killed.

"They've spent about $170,000 over the past eight years to fight  them in other ways," O'Rourke said, adding that amount of money included  repairs to buildings and bird proofing.

Some of the homeowners have tried using nets, Mylar, and fake owls and spiders to keep the birds away.

O'Rourke said personnel from U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to come out to kill the birds within the next couple weeks.

Audubon California has offered assistance to the homeowners associations in considering other options and O'Rourke said representatives  of the associations are expected to meet with Audubon staff.

Brian Murphy, a board member of the Mount Diablo Audubon Society, said members of the society are scheduled to meet with representatives of the  homeowners associations Wednesday.

Murphy said the acorn woodpeckers are using the sides of homes as artificial granaries because old dead oak had been removed from the area during development.

He said by bringing in large pieces of dying oak and attaching  them to trees in the area, the woodpeckers could make natural granaries, a possible permanent solution for keeping the woodpeckers from storing their food in homes.

Acorn woodpeckers are a relatively common bird in California that store food in large granaries drilled in oaks and other trees, according to Audubon California.

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