Saskatchewan

Squirrels wreaking havoc with power supply

The charming dance of frisky squirrels zipping along power lines in a Regina neighbourhood is leading to tragedy for the animals, and annoying service interruptions for electricity customers.

The charming dance of frisky squirrels zipping along power lines in a Regina neighbourhood is leading to tragedy for the animals, and annoying service interruptions for electricity customers.

Three times in less than two weeks squirrels have caused a power outage in Regina's trendy Cathedral neighbourhood according to SaskPower.

"It's frustrating for our customers," Larry Christie, spokesperson for the Crown corporation told CBC News. "It's annoying and expensive for SaskPower. And it's really tough on the squirrels too."

Christie said that about 2,000 customers, mostly residential, were affected each time the power went out.

It is believed the critters are zapping themselves when they come into contact with a live power wire by touching an insulator on the pole and a ground-wire, transforming their tiny bodies into a conductor.

"The squirrels are tall enough so they can touch the ground[wire] and they can touch the insulator," Christie said. "That's bad news for our customer and bad news for the squirrel."

Christie said service to residential areas is designed to shut off when the power flow is interrupted that way.

It has happened enough to catch the attention of many Cathedral residents, including Rem Walker, who normally enjoys watching the squirrels' high-wire antics.

"Until they put the power out they're all right," Walker told CBC News. "But when they put the power out, they're a bit of an inconvenience."

"I don't have the solution," said Curt Skelton, another resident affected by the power outages. "If somebody thinks they should round up all the squirrels: Good luck."

According to SaskPower, one in 10 power interruptions can be linked to wildlife, including unlucky squirrels and birds.

Most power losses are weather-related or due to equipment breakdowns.