Skip to content

kill woodpeckers

How to Kill Woodpeckers

Sometimes, despite the best attempts to deter or prevent woodpeckers from pecking a home or property, they continue to persist. In these instances, it may become necessary to take a lethal approach to remove a problem woodpecker or woodpeckers. We will discuss the lethal methods that may be effective against woodpeckers and the relevant regulations that require attention.


Woodpeckers are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The law states, “No person may take (kill), harass, possess, import, export, transport, sell,
purchase, barter, or offer for sale, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such bird except as may be permitted under the terms of a valid permit…”

It is imperative to note that it is illegal to kill a woodpecker unless the relevant permit is attained. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is the agency responsible for handing out permits – an application must be submitted for Migratory Bid Depredation.

Alternatively, hiring a licensed professional service is also a good option.

Permits are scarce and difficult to obtain. It is also challenging to find a licensed professional who would turn to lethal methods anyway, so it is again strongly advisable to keep lethal methods as a last resort when addressing a problem woodpecker. If absolutely necessary, it is worth keeping detailed notes on the steps taken to remove or scare away woodpeckers with no results.

Please look at techniques for safe and humane woodpecker removal and how to keep them away in the first instance – these can be easy, cost-effective, and work most of the time.


In failing to deter woodpeckers, turning to these lethal methods will obtain the best results.

Shooting –
shooting is an effective way to kill the woodpecker. They are a small bird, so it does not require much – one clean shot. Always ensure you check the law regarding firearms in your state, and remember that you need a special permit!

Poison – poisoning the nest or food of a woodpecker will remove it from the house or property. Cholecalciferol or Strychnine may be effective poisons to kill a woodpecker.

Always be cautious using poisons as you may inadvertently poison other wildlife in the process of destroying the woodpecker.

Trapping – luring and trapping is another effective method. A simple structure like a birdhouse with a one-way entry can hold the bird for later destruction, or you can install a snap trap within the enclosure to kill it.

These are the most effective methods for woodpecker removal by lethal means. So, in summary:

Always aim for prevention first to avoid any damage in the first instance. If prevention fails, take several non-lethal methods to remove the woodpecker from your property.

If problems still persist, contact a professional to discuss safe and humane removal. If all the above fail, you may decide to consider applying for a permit to use lethal force on the woodpecker or woodpeckers. Remember, until you have a permit, it is a federal offense to kill a woodpecker, so be careful!