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Squirrel Population Boom Irks Farmers, Not Just Drivers

This year's large number of squirrels are not just frustrating drivers around the region, but also farmers as the harvest season continues.

[It's a Banner Year for Rodent Roadkill. Here's Why]

From Maine, across New Hampshire and Vermont, farmers are reporting significant damage to crops.

Rodent populations have boomed in recent years because there's been an abundance of acorns and other wild food. But that's not the case this year, and the animals are hunting for more to eat.

Anne Sprague, who runs a fruit and vegetable operation in Plainfield, says squirrels are decimating her corn and squash

"I'm happy when I see two of them dead at once in the road. I'm thinking, 'Wow, this is great.'"

Sprague says she's never seen anything like it in her more than four decades on the land.

A rash of reports and other news stories developed as drivers witnessed scores of squirrel carcasses on the region's roadways over the past month.

For farmers during harvest season, it's as frustrating as those times of drought.

In Maine, David Sharp of the Associated Press spoke with Robert Randall, who owns an orcharch in Standish, Maine. "They're eating the pumpkins. They're eating the apples. They're raising some hell thisyear," Randall told the AP. "It's the worst I've ever seen."

This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies including Rhode Island Public Radio joining together to tell stories of a changing region.