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Raccoons were behind more than a dozen of Toronto's power outages last year

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The raccoon behind a widespread power outage in downtown Toronto last week wasn’t the first of its kind to plunge residents into darkness.

Raccoons were behind 13 power outages in Toronto last year, according to figures provided by the city's electricity distributor.

On average, those outages were restored safely within 80 minutes, Toronto Hydro said.

Still, the interactions can be dangerous for both residents and the raccoons. Thursday's outage cut power for more than 7,000 customers in the downtown core, brought elevators in high-rise buildings to a halt, and darkened traffic lights in some of the city's busiest intersections. The raccoon responsible for the blackout was found dead on the property where it interacted with the equipment.

A raccoon is behind the massive power outage affecting a large portion of downtown Toronto that is currently impacting 7,000 customers. (Katherine DeClerq/CTVNewsToronto.ca)

In a statement to CTV News, Toronto Hydro said it's taking preventative measures to help mitigate issues related to animal contact with its system.

“This work includes periodic patrols of feeders and other equipment to ensure any signs of animal encroachment are addressed, along with the installation of animal guards and enclosures on equipment that may be more susceptible to animal contact,” the statement reads.

While the company said it's not possible to “completely animal proof our distribution system,” the measures will keep “wildlife safe and keep the power on.”

Following Thursday’s outage, Tiziana Baccega Rosa, a spokesperson for electricity supplier Hydro One, said the company takes these incidents “very seriously” and is also looking at further measures to prevent them from happening again.

Baccega Rosa also pointed to the utility's existing animal protection efforts, which include elevated platforms to help dissuade osprey from nesting on top of electricity poles. Preventing animal-related outages at power stations can look like building an enclosure around certain equipment, she said

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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