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Information on how squirrels can be hazardous

By 1st Lt. Joe Thompson 2d Mission Support Group executive Officer

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Home inspectors estimate that 20 percent of house fires in the United States are caused by squirrels chewing on electrical wires. Even worse, instances have occurred where the squirrels chewed facility fire alarm wiring thus eliminating this critical life, health and safety warning system.

Last month's Warrior article, "Friend or furry foe" explained the prevalence of squirrels on Barksdale and the damage they cause. Also included were measures taken by team Barksdale and important tips and contact numbers for squirrel related issues.

Please remember squirrels, while cute, can be very harmful. Their droppings carry bacteria such as salmonella, leptospirosis, tularemia, which are known to cause pneumonia, meningitis and even death. They have caused damage to our facilities and our hospital computer network by nesting in them and chewing through fiber-optic lines. Additionally, they can chew through electrical wires creating severe fire hazards.

Remember to help minimize the squirrel impact on our installation. You can most easily do this by limiting food access. Suspend bird feeders from wires, purchase squirrel-proof bird feeders, or spread safe lubricants such as Vaseline on poles squirrels may climb on.

We are exploring all humane avenues of controlling the base squirrel population.

For housing squirrel problems, call Pinnacle at 318-747-2723. For base facility issues, call the 2d Civil Engineer Squadron customer service at 318-456-307.