No ifs, ands or nuts – squirrels are a growing cause of Grant PUD outages

By Laine Barth, Grant PUD intern

That cute, little squirrel running around the neighborhood might seem harmless, but increasingly these invasive animals are the cause of two mayor annoyances in Grant County, power and fiber-optic outages.

Squirrels love to gnaw through the insulation on power lines, climb power poles

and burrow into substations. Sometimes when this happens, they unfortunately, complete an electrical circuit or chew through a fiber-optic strand and leave many without power or Internet service. Each month, squirrels cause about five power outages and even more fiber connection outages to customers in Grant County, said Chris Heimbigner Grant PUD Line Crew Superintendent.

“Each time there is an outage, it is very expensive to the operation of the utility” says Grant PUD Fiber Specialist, Russ Brethower. “Anything we can do to prevent squirrel-related outages is good for everyone.”

Squirrels can jump up to 10 feet from one object to the next and will chew through wire insulation, wood and fiberglass siding and damage anything from power lines, to wires for fiber, telephone, cable and satellite television. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent squirrels from making a home on our properties.

By trimming trees and tall shrubs, squirrels will have a harder time getting onto power lines and wires. Sealing garbage cans, letting the family dog spend some time outside and not leaving any domestic pet food out at night will all help in preventing a squirrel’s attraction to your home. If you have a birdfeeder, make sure it’s a squirrel-proof feeder or add a squirrel collar to your current feeder and keep it at the edge of your property.

Some other tips include inspecting your home for entry holes and sealing them with steel mesh, which the squirrel cannot chew through. Putting “Sniff-n-Stop” deterrent on external wires is another effective option that will not harm the squirrel but will keep them away from wires.

Squirrels are considered cute and lovable, so it may be tempting to invite them onto your property, but it’s important to remember that this invasive species is crowding out native wildlife and can cause thousands of dollars in damage to power and fiber equipment on your property, as well as structural harm. It would be nuts to keep them hanging around.

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