The death of a single East Texas squirrel was broadcast far and wide this week, but it was less a sentimental obituary for a solitary rodent than a big news item.
Before he or she died, the squirrel had curtailed water service, shut off electricity, and forced the closing of schools in two area districts.
In all, more than a thousand utility customers were affected. The squirrel, sorry to say, got into a power substation in Big Sandy, about 100 miles east of Dallas, and did what rodents do: gnawed on the lines, a fatal mistake.
KLTV in Tyler, KWTX in Waco, KRIS in Corpus Christi and KXXV in Waco all told this story.
The media carries these items regularly, only the datelines change. In November of last year, the story played out in Ashland, Wisconsin, where two squirrels were killed along with the power. And Christmas morning was darkened in Chico, Calif., by yet another squirrel. Last month, it was Kennebunk, Maine.
One would think the utility companies might have caught on by now. If they don't care to avoid squirrel electrocutions (and presumably they don't) they might want to consider squirrel-proofing their facilities and even some of their power lines anyway. I am told there are actually such devices as "squirrel guards." Yes, it's a humane gesture and probably an expensive one at that, at least to outfit a good chunk of a power system, but on the up side of the equation, it would certainly help keep the lights on more often, thus bring a steadier and happier glow to their customers.
Yes and to us squirrel-lovers too.