Animal Mitigation

Mitigation of animal contact to distribution equipment is a way to improve system reliability, minimize customer interruptions as well as operational and maintenance costs.


Animal interference with distribution equipment causes power outages and affects the reliability of the electricity system. According to Electricity Canada’s 2020 Distribution System Performance: A Service Continuity Annual Report, about 26% of interruptions are contributed by foreign interference and unknown factors, which includes animal related outages.

According to a survey conducted by Electricity Canada, it was noted that squirrels affect all utilities, causing 75% of animal outages in a service area, followed by raccoons and birds being the next most problematic contributing to 30% of the overall outages.

Mitigation strategies may differ across utilities due to differences in animal populations across geographic areas. Understanding animal behaviour and habitat is important to implementing an effective mitigation strategy.

Strategies adopted by utilities in Canada include

• installing an electrostatic ring and/or rubber boot on transformers,

• installing a Tripsaver II mounted recloser for cut outs,

• replacing wood poles with concrete/composite/metal poles,

• replacing bare conductor design with Hendrix,

• increasing tree trimming cycles etc.

Utilities may need to use a specific class of cover-up such as precise fit or a blended mix of cover-up or fencing suppliers based on the unique equipment requirements, configurations and species that are a potential risk to the distribution system.

Case study

Before the Vancouver Winter Olympics of 2010, BC Hydro turned to Cantega Technologies Inc. to resolve the long history of animal related outages at its electrical substations. The utility did not want to run the risk of an outage while the world was watching the games unfold. One of the measures BC Hydro used to limit the risk of power outages was the installation of Greenjacket designed by Cantega at seven of its substations. The Olympic games were a success with no service interruptions.

A similar strategy was adopted by AltaLink in 2005. AltaLink adopted Greenjacket technology to prevent animal caused outages and improve reliability performance. This improved their load interruption duration performance by 95% at their substations in areas where they were experiencing frequent wildlife contacts/interruptions.

Did You Know?

Mitigation practices are heavily reliant on federal regulations that ensure animal protection. Utilities must ensure that they fully abide by the federal animal cruelty laws before implementing any new animal mitigation strategies. These laws were originally enacted in the Canadian Criminal Code in 1892. Provinces are empowered to create regulations and give municipalities the power to enact by-laws.

• Sections 444 to 447 of Canada's Criminal Code constitute Canada's primary federal animal protection legislation. The Code prohibits causing "unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or bird" and "causing damage or injury by wilful neglect”.

• Some species, particularly birds, are protected under environmental acts (such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act)