Nova Scotia

Fowl behaviour shutting down phone, internet service in rural N.S. community

A rural community in Nova Scotia's South Shore is dealing with an unlikely disruptor to home telephone and internet service: woodpeckers.

David Whynot of Branch LaHave says woodpeckers have been chewing phone lines for more than a decade

David Whynot says woodpeckers chew through telephone cables, leaving holes that cause disruptions to home telephone and internet access. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

A rural community in Nova Scotia's South Shore is dealing with an unlikely disruptor to home telephone and internet service: woodpeckers.

David Whynot, who lives in Branch LaHave, said the tiny birds have been chewing holes in overhead phone cables in the area for more than a decade.

"I'm frustrated, very, very frustrated," he said.

On rainy days when water gets in the holes, Whynot said that usually wipes out his home telephone and internet service.

He said he's worried that in the event of an emergency, people won't be able to get help from authorities.

Whynot says on rainy days, making a phone call using his home phone or accessing the internet is almost impossible. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

Whynot said he walked a three-kilometre stretch of Lower Branch Road, where he lives, and counted 168 spots on the lines that had been repaired due to woodpecker pecking.

The repairs are basically black or yellow bags fastened over the broken portion of the cable, a short-term solution to keep the water out.

Whynot says he counted 168 short-term repairs along a three-kilometre stretch of his road. (CBC)

Whynot said technicians from Bell Aliant come out to the area once in a while to repair the damaged lines.

He said he's made countless calls to Bell Aliant about the problem.

"They were so used to me calling and complaining, [they] used to call me Woodpecker Whynot," he said.

Katie Hatfield, a spokesperson for Bell Aliant, said the company is finalizing plans for a more permanent solution.

Whynot says he doesn't know why the birds are so keen to chew on the cables, but they manage to peck through the plastic coating and metal inside. (CBC)

"This spring, we'll be replacing a six-kilometre stretch of telephone line in Lower Branch with a fortified cable that will better stand up to woodpecker activity," she said in an email.

The company will also be installing a new 14-kilometre cable from Bridgewater to Upper Branch to fix woodpecker damage in that area.

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With files from Preston Mulligan and CBC's Maritime Noon

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