For many utilities, squirrels are “public enemy #1” — responsible for thousands of outages at substations across the U.S.

Now, that threat has gotten even scarier … just in time for Halloween. News media in the northeastern U.S. have reported on a massive uptick in the number of squirrels in the region — a phenomenon the Boston Globe dubbed the “Squirrel-nado.” 

Scientists call this squirrel boom a “population irruption,” a spike associated with favorable environmental conditions — like last year’s bumper crop of acorns. While the “extraordinary number” of squirrels has led to increased roadkill and the destruction of crops in several states, power producers have a different concern: substation incursions.

The worst may be yet to come:  if 2019 becomes a low-production year for squirrels’ preferred foods, they’ll likely begin a migration that will increase activity, the search for food — and the threat to substations.

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