Unitil Corp, based out of New Hampshire and here in Maine, is celebrating the power outage-causing squirrel.

Mainebiz says that squirrels are busy this time of year, wreaking havoc on power lines by munching on them, or building nests within equipment and sneaking into areas they aren't supposed to be. Pesky and adorable squirrels cause 11% of power outages in Unitil’s service area.

Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash
Photo by Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

According to Unitil, animals are responsible for around 14% of system outages. To help, Unitil has celebrated 'Squirrel Week' for their third year. It's a social media campaign with facts about what Unitil does to try and keep the pesky critters away from power lines. The campaign just ended.

Are squirrels good or bad?

Squirrels are both good and bad. Unitil didn't go the 'hate squirrels' route for what a problem they are. They focused on all the good squirrels can do. They note that squirrels are important contributors to the balance and diversity of many ecosystems. They help disperse seeds from the nuts and fruits they gather, which promotes the growth of new plants. Want to know if the ecosystem is healthy? Changes in squirrel population size or behavior can signal environmental changes or disturbances.

Safety first!

Unitil did speak to Mainebiz about how Squirrel Week is a fun way to talk about a pretty boring topic: electricity. But they also wanted to make sure that the devices they use on power lines to keep squirrels away should only be installed by professionals and utility companies. So don't get any bright ideas. Unitil also donated money to three New England wildlife non-profits. I know that I'll be looking for squirrels zig-zagging!


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