I’m not sure exactly why the big gray squirrels have been mostly replaced in our woods by smaller red squirrels. Both normally live in this area, but generally, the bigger Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is the dominant species. They are bigger and pushier. The number of red squirrels has been gradually decreasing wherever both species inhabit the same area. Except here, where the population balance has shifted.
According to National Grid, the most damage done to our electrical wiring, other than through the typical neglect by the electric company itself, is squirrels who have a passion for gnawing on wires. They aren’t gnawing wires for nutritional purposes so maybe the big wires are something like chewing gum for squirrels.
The problem is our beautiful Blackstone River has become a major source for nuclear generators. All those dams and the sharp drop and twisting of the river make it perfect for generators, so when the mills moved south, nukes moved in. Nuclear generators are less poisonous and lethally polluting than were the mills and factories, but the generators are aging.
The time is coming — in some cases has already passed — when these old generators will have to be (or should already have been) dismantled. We have to wonder what will be done with the leftover nuclear rods when the generators are taken down and replaced or whatever. Who knows what’s being planned? No one tells us anything.
Sometimes, I think if we were to stand outside with hands over our heads, we might light up. Big human lightbulbs. There’s a lot of nuclear energy roaming about this bucolic little valley.
Despite all these years of building nuclear generators, no one has figured out what to do with nuclear waste products. They were planning to bury them under the desert in Nevada, but for some obscure reason, Nevadans didn’t want to become the repository of who knows how much nuclear material. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
Currently, this stuff gets loaded on trucks and moved from truck A to truck B and ever onward. I know this because I wrote the manual for a software product called “Cradle to Grave” that tracks the progress — or lack thereof — of nuclear rods. That’s how I learned they are eternally in transit with no end in sight. One day we will have a huge traffic jam comprised of trucks full of old nuclear stuff. What happens if a couple of these trucks collide?
Forget squirrels. Think meltdown.
Squirrels who get too enthusiastic about gnawing wires get nuked. Is that why we are seeing Sciurus vulgaris (aka, red squirrel) rather than the Eastern Grays? Are the big gray guys too busy chewing nuclear power lines? Do they want to go out in a blaze of glory?
Meanwhile, we have a crop of baby squirrels discovering our seeds. Our deck is the very first place outside the nest they have ever eaten, so I think they will keep coming back forever. They are our children. Our furry babies.