Squirrel Week is now a thing, highlights ‘gnawing problem’ for consumers and utility companies

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They look so innocent, but often squirrels become service disruptors by gnawing on wires that can not only cut off service but bring them to an untimely death. Image/Rebecca Scott for Unitil

HAMPTON, NH – Next week has been declared “Squirrel Week” by a local utility company, hoping to leverage social media to raise public awareness around the hazards squirrels can create – for themselves and utility customers – while offering some safety tips.

According to Unitil Corporation statistics show that squirrels are the culprits behind an estimated 8.5 percent of outages experienced in their service territories each year, leading them to take steps to protect squirrels and other wildlife while minimizing the risk of power outages by installing animal guards on equipment to keep critters away. 

“The reality is we operate in rural, heavily wooded areas, and outages related to animal contact from squirrels and other small creatures are something we contend with more often than the average person probably thinks,” said Alec O’Meara, media relations manager at Unitil. “We thought highlighting this unique aspect of line maintenance, and the steps we take to both protect our furry friends and keep the lights on, would be interesting and informative for our customers.” 

Squirrels tend to be more active during the spring and fall months. As they emerge from their nests following the harsh New England winter, squirrels begin scavenging for food. As a result of their increased activity, spring is typically the peak season for squirrel-related power outages. 

As part of the campaign, which kicks off May 9 on the company’s social media pages, Unitil plans to donate $500 to each of the following wildlife conservation organizations: 

  • Center for Wildlife, York/Cape Neddick, Maine 
  • Mass Audubon Flat Rock Wildlife Sanctuary, Fitchburg, Mass. 
  • Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire 

 

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