Tag Archives: power outages

I’ll tell you, co-authoring a book, finishing your dissertation, and teaching do not leave a lot of time for blogging about squirrels. I’ve got about four months of squirrel news to catch you up on, and I hope you will not be disappointed.

Let’s start with the basics. Power outages:

A squirrel shut down the grid by chewing wires and starting fires in Luverne, MN. Hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of people in Fargo ND, Omaha NE, Ashland OR, Blacklick, OH, Staten Island, Bangor ME, Nashville TN, Hamilton MN, Ripon, CA, Muskegon, MI, and Cedar Springs, MI lost power thanks to squirrels. A mere 250 people in Arkansas were left without power after a squirrel caused a power outage. A college campus in Mississippi, a high school in Chico CA, and an elementary school in Bovina, MS all got excused from class after squirrels shut them down.

In Springdale, PA, a “loose wire and a dead squirrel” caused lights to flicker on and off. Eugene OR suffered an outage when a squirrel’s tail “touched a second phase power line.” Translation: the squirrel was electrocuted and died.

A squirrel chewed on electrical wires in a home in Dekalb, GA, almost burning it down. Luckily the home owner was around when the sparks flew and no one was injured.

In international outages, folks in Hamilton in Canada and Chilwell in the UK also lost power in squirrel-related incidents.

But people aren’t just sitting back and letting squirrels shut down their power. After a squirrel caused a 10 HOUR power outage for over 6000 households in Sunnyside, WA, shutting down churches and restaurants, officials have vowed to “explore their options” to prevent this from happening again. In Guelph, Canada, the city is replacing old equipment and adding wildlife protection covers to stop the never-ending wave of power losses.

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Car Trouble

A man in Pennsylvania lost control of his car, crashing into a parked vehicle, claiming it was all because he was trying to avoid hitting a squirrel. A woman in South Carolina flipped her vehicle when she went off the side of the road, also trying to avoid hitting a squirrel. The driver’s comment: “I don’t like squirrels anymore.”

Luckily, a driver at the German racing event Nurburgring avoided hitting a squirrel who ran across the track. He also avoided injuring himself.

Squirrels love food

And people love squirrels who love food...especially if it is human food they love. Recently, squirrels have been observed enjoying pizza, tacos, and even French bread.

Folks at a golf course in North Carolina gained some internet notoriety for feeding a squirrel an Ice cream on a daily basis. “Putter” got her own tiny squirrel-sized cone of ice cream and returned the favor by giving birth to two babies. Only time will tell if they will also expect their own treats.

Planes, trains, and automobiles

A plane was delayed when a squirrel was found hanging out in the engine.

A squirrel caused some chaos when stuck on a London train;

 

And a man in Canada unknowingly gave a squirrel a ride in the backseat of his car.

Hunting corner

A woman in Tennessee spent over six months in the hospital after her husband shot her instead of  a squirrel. The husband mentioned that “God is good.”

A man in Staten Island was busted using a bow and arrow to hunt squirrels. He was charged with prohibited use of a weapon. Two teenagers in South Dakota face charges after discharging a weapon within city limits for firing a BB gun and killing a squirrel.

For the record, I am a vegetarian and don’t condone the eating of squirrels. But one British butcher is encouraging folks to give “squirrel on the barbie” a try.

Squirrel slam controversy

Folks in New York are still trying to get the “Squirrel Slam” hunting contest shut down. The squirrel slam offers prizes for those who “bag” the most squirrels. Opponents have tried to shut down the slam in court multiple times, and once again, they were dissed and dismissed. Sadly, the slam continues.

 

Inter-species interactions

Squirrels aren’t considered a particularly social species, and sometimes they have interactions with other animals…who aren’t squirrels!

Squirrel meets fish, cuteness ensues.

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This red squirrel narrowly missed a deadly encounter with a pine martin, but this squirrel did NOT miss a deadly encounter with a bobcat, and ended up “what’s for dinner.

 

Celebrity corner

Even celebrities can’t get enough of squirrels. Take Ty Segall and Kurt Vile, who each played musical squirrels on a TV show, Animals.

 

Well I love Ricky Gervais, and since he saved an injured squirrel, I love him even more!!

 

 

I have to admit I had no idea who Jeremy Kyle is, but I guess he’s famous in the UK. If you want to see a British celebrity impersonate a squirrel having sex, then this one is for you. Also, I'm not so sure his impersonation is very accurate.

Arts corner: Squirrel murals

 

OR “squirr-als”?? Two new squirrel murals have popped up – one in Dublin, Ireland, and one in Philadelphia. Pretty awesome.

 

This week in cute

Watch this squirrel climb up a slide, then take a ride! Some adorable rodent play in this video!

Gray squirrel cull controversy

The United Kingdom is one of the few areas where both gray and red squirrels exist. As I’ve reported before, this co-existence is a threat for red squirrels, as grays both take advantage of resources that reds also rely on, and spread squirrelpox, which red squirrels (but not grays) are susceptible to. The ongoing question is how to manage this threat to the endangered red squirrel. The answer has been massive culls, which is not without controversy. The Guardian wrote an in-depth report on the “volunteer army” who are trying to eliminate grays. Worth a read!

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Should we feed squirrels?

Given that controversy over squirrel feeding led to an attempted murder trial in Colorado (more on that next time!), it seems ironic that a Colorado town is taking up discussion on whether it should be legal to feed squirrels. An 80 year old man, Gaylord Sigman, in Loveland was cited for feeding squirrels, which caused an uproar from animal lovers. A neighbor complained about the squirrels burying peanuts (obtained from Sigman) in his yard. Apparently, Loveland’s ordinance about not feeding wild animals does not specifically mention squirrels, which has led to some controversy. City Council is still discussing the matter.

 

Coming up later this week: squirrels and sports, squirrels and crime, squirrel rescue and the Squirrel Science Corner!

Too smart to quit

A biology professor in Canada tells it like it is. Squirrels are just too smart for us to keep out of bird feeders. Although he tries.

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Speaking of birdfeeders, you say potato, I say...

Can you prove a bird feeder isn't a squirrel feeder? A woman in Canada was cited for "providing sustenance for squirrels." Since neither squirrel nor bird feeding is illegal where she lives, the question is whether she is attracting vermin through her "bird feeding" habits.

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Squirrels Ruin Christmas

I think squirrels just might be my totem animal. Although I am prone to Grinch-like qualities when it comes to the holidays, I have never stolen any Christmas displays. I cannot say the same about my furry rodent friends.

See, Christmas falls right around the time when squirrels have been burying a lot of food, and holiday light bulbs are strangely acorn shaped. To that end, there have been several reports of squirrels stealing and burying Christmas bulbs. One squirrel in Seattle stole over 150 light bulbs in 24 hours, and even Boston Common’s Christmas tree was affected by squirrel thefts.

Canada could not escape the influence of rodents this holiday season, and in Keene NH, a Christmas tree was blown out by a gnawing squirrel.

Karin Brulliard at the Washington Post wrote a great summary on this very topic (and I’m excited to say I got to chat with her about it).

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I did say that I don’t think squirrels have a vendetta against Christmas, but perhaps they just wish everyone would say “Happy Holidays?”

Squirrels might have ruined Christmas, but Christmas saved one squirrel. When a squirrel got stuck down a chimney, a home owner provided him with a string of Christmas lights to shimmy his way to freedom.

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Basically, I blink and two months have gone by and I have NOT REPORTED ON SQUIRREL ACTIVITY! In case you'd like to know what I have been up to, some shameless self-reporting here:

feldmanI recently spoke with comedian David Feldman about...cats, cats, and more cats.

 

 

 

 

 

And the Berkeley Newscenter recently interviewed me about my research on the food-storing behavior of squirrels.

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The squirrels do not find studying squirrels to be an adequate excuse for not reporting on squirrels.

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Power problems

poweroutAlthough I’ve been too busy to write about squirrel antics, it doesn’t mean they have been laying around doing nothing! As usual, power outages have been reported all over the country! Squirrels may have knocked out your power recently if you live in the following places: North Maketo, IAComstock Park, MIRedding, CTSpringfield, MAWauwatosa, WIGrand Rapids, MIKinnelon, NJMountain Home, IDKalispell, MTConcord, NHMonroe, CTAshville, NCCape Girardeau, MOMilwaukee, WITalahassee, FLSunnyside, WANew Orleans, LA, and for the third time in one month: Bay City, MI.

Squirrels went international with power outages in Vancouver, and Kelowna, British Columbia as well as in Brazil. And journalists can't get enough of  cyber-squirrel attacks, with recent features about squirrel related power outages in Slate, as well as how independent microgrids limit the damage squirrels can do.

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You can’t make this stuff up

sqshootIn Colorado, a dispute arose over whether a man should be feeding local squirrels. Folks in the community were apparently concerned about the fact that he was feeding peanuts to the squirrels, which could be problematic to local children with nut allergies. These concerned neighbors posted flyers, and at some point a tete a tete between the squirrel feeder (Jon Barbour) and a neighbor occurred. Things escalated, the men accused each other of being “white trash,” punches were thrown, and Barbour consequently shot the neighbor in the buttocks. He called police to turn himself in, was arrested, and now faces attempted murder charges, and from 8-32 years in prison.

But the story doesn’t end there. Barbour defended his squirrel feeding frenzy (apparently leaving “pounds of peanuts” out for our twitchy friends) by explaining that feeding squirrels was how he communed with the spirits of his dead parents. I’ll be following this case, as the preliminary trial happens on June 9th.

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I have really fallen behind on my squirrel news reporting responsibilities, and there has been SO MUCH squirrel news, that this week will require two posts to catch up. Today, a lot of power outages, squirrels and food, and squirrels in schools and squirrel rescue. Stay tuned for Part II, which will feature A LOT of squirrels and crime, squirrels and sports, this week in cute, and MUCH MORE!

Annoying squirrels for science

slateI'm very excited that my research examining fox squirrels' responses to a frustrating task has finally been published. This was my first study in graduate school, and although my research questions have changed a lot since then, I had a lot of fun with this one! I spoke with Rachel Gross at Slate about my study, you can read all about it here!

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Appetite for Destruction

Squirrels turn off the lights

Squirrel related power outages were reported in: Greenfield, WI, Danbury, CT, Muncie, IN, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tulsa, OK, Glenpool, OK, Lee County, TX, Columbia, SC, and Pinewood, Ontario.

But it’s not just squirrels

Other wildlife may be to blame, including possums, racoons and even the occasional bird that gets into a power substation.

Why do they do it?

Attraction to warmth and lack of traffic (which presents less of an obstacle) are factors that lead squirrels to the wires.

Fire starters

A squirrel started a fire in a garage in Traverse City, MI, losing its life in the process; and burned down a home in South Nashville.

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If squirrels had body image issues…

They’d be in trouble because the hot topic on the internet these days is FAT SQUIRRELS. Folks, they need to store up for a long, lean time…let them get chubby!

Canada's got em...

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The UK's got them...

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Wales has em...

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And everyone's got something to say about it!

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Then shamed for not making a jump

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But it’s not just the chubby ones who have a problem!

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It's been a rough few months...I submitted two manuscript revisions (one of which has been accepted! Huzzah!)! I went to New York City to be a panelist at the Better with Pets Summit! And I'm madly preparing for my final experiment that I hope will lead to my receiving a PhD sooner rather than later.

But, until the graduate school tidal wave returns...it's time to find out what squirrels have been up to for the last two months (no surprise, they've been busy).

Squirrels’ Reign of Terror

Marin County on high alert

squirrelattackThe biggest news of late is the report of EIGHT separate squirrel attacks in a neighborhood in Novato, CA. Some of the attacks occurred when a squirrel jumped from a tree onto its victim. The problem began a few weeks ago, when the squirrel entered a school, biting a teacher and a student before being chased out of the building.

More recently, a squirrel attacked an 87 year old man, giving him injuries on his hands and face. Because of the proximity of reports, and similar behaviors reported, animal control believes the same squirrel was involved in all of the incidents.

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This weekend, police reported they believe the squirrel is dead, as attacks have ceased. Warning flyers have been posted in Novato just in case he is not.

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