Dog Pee Blamed for Mysterious Collapse of Traffic Light Pole in Japan

Police in Japan believe they have finally sniffed out the likely cause of the sudden collapse of a set of traffic lights: dog urine.

Cops working out of the Mie Prefecture in Kansai, Honshu, were initially baffled after the six-meter-tall pole was discovered collapsed on some bushes in a nearby parking lot on the morning of February 18.

First installed at a set of crossroads in the Sakurajimacho district of Suzuka back in 1997, the pole had been designed to remain in place for 50 years.

However, after just 23 years of use, it was found snapped at the base with little explanation as to how or why.

No accidents or injuries had been reported in the local area at the time of the sudden collapse and there had been no issues with the installation of the post itself.

According to The Mainichi, the true culprits were eventually uncovered when the Mie Prefectural Police's forensic science laboratory conducted tests on the pole.

They discovered approximately 40 times the concentration of urea around the bottom of the post compared with other sets of traffic lights installed around the same time.

It was also found to be nearly eight times higher than the level of urea found on a pole located across the street.

The only notable difference between the two being that the one that collapsed was located in an area popular with dog walkers.

With that in mind, lab technicians concluded it is highly likely that the urea and salt content contained in canine pee likely played a role in eroding the metal around the base and causing it to collapse.

Lab head Koji Takahashi theorized that while the amount of urine released at any one time is small, the repeated application over a period of months and years likely led to the damage, The Malaymail reports.

A new set of lights have since been installed, however police in Japan are already concerned amid reports that several dogs had already been seen urinating in the same area.

While the base around the new lights has reportedly been redesigned to try and prevent a repeat, police in Japan are urging people in the local region to take steps to stop their dogs, or clean off their mess using water.

The prefectural police's traffic regulation division told The Mainichi: "The site is along a commuting route for a nearby elementary school, and it could have caused an accident during commute time."

"If they are urinated on for many years, traffic lights, which are public construction, can be eroded and collapse. We would like to ask dog owners to be aware and act accordingly such as having their pets excrete at home."

According to the New Scientist, male dogs spray urine as a way of "scent marking" which sends an "odor-based message to other dogs that communicates health, sex, and age."

Something of a contentious practice to some, according to The Telegraph, in 2018 one London council tried, unsuccessfully, to have the urinating on lamp posts outlawed.

Traffic lights dog and lamppost
Stock images: A set of traffic lights and a dog - Police in Japan have attributed the sudden collapse of a set of traffic lights to dog urine. Askolds/A Tail To Tell Photography/iStock/Getty