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Squirrelly Vandal Drives Professor Nuts

by Stacey Moses

In many of my previous posts on Commute By Bike, I have focused on feel-good stories, such as the tale of a man who found both renewed health and a missing dog while on his bicycle, as well as made entertaining (I hope) references to pop icons such as Kermit the Frog to explain painted bike lanes and complete streets initiatives. Today, however, I must report on a serious issue that I first learned about through NPR: squirrels vandalizing bicycles.

The Culprit

Image Credit: Iowa Lakes Community College

Vandalism is no laughing matter, and for dedicated bicycle commuters, there is nothing more frustrating than securing your bike in a designated rack and returning to find that someone or something has damaged your property. Unfortunately, an associate math professor at Iowa Lakes Community College had to deal with such frustrations last week when he found his bicycle with damage to both tires, the seat, headlight and taillight. The vandalism occurred over a two-day period, and it wasn’t until a fellow professor captured the crime in progress did the victim, Matt Strom, learn the true identity of this furry little vandal.

“[He was] the meanest squirrel you have ever seen,” Strom said in an email to his colleagues, according to the Sioux City Journal. Strom and a biology professor contemplated how they could bring the squirrel to justice, and Sioux City Animal Control owner Cindy Rarrat suggested attempting to trap the squirrel. This idea only led to more questions, such as how to identify the guilty squirrel and what to use as bait (“the rest of the bicycle seat,” offered Strom).

Squirrel on TireWhile Strom did report the incidents to Estherville police, it seems that efforts to capture the squirrel have failed, and NPR reported that Strom now parks his bicycle indoors. As someone who has experienced bicycle theft on a university campus (my bike was stolen either by a human or a raccoon, as I assume that opposable thumbs were necessary to operate the cable cutters), I understand Strom’s irritation and desire for justice. But, if we work together as bicycle enthusiasts to guard against these ferocious rubber-eating beasts, we can continue to ride our bikes and park outdoors with confidence.

 
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5 Responses to “Squirrelly Vandal Drives Professor Nuts”

  1. listenermark says:

    …my bike was stolen either by a human or a raccoon, as I assume that opposable thumbs were necessary to operate the cable cutters…

    Never underestimate the felonious nature of raccoons. Those little guys are stone cold gangsters.

  2. BluesCat says:

    One day, a group of pigeons roosting in the ash tree out in front of my house dropped so many loads on the hood of my car that it actually ruined the paint.

    My solution, over the next couple of days, was capital punishment for ALL of the offenders via a Crosman Phantom

  3. Joel says:

    I did many years of outdoor camping and these critters will definitely enjoy chewing through the rubber gas lines that connect an outside LP tank to the main feed of a camper.

    Wrapping the lines with aluminum foil seems to deter them but it might not be cost effective for a bicycle on a daily basis (The major aluminum foil manufacturers would love it, I have my suspicions that they trained a few squirrels in the wild to attack camper lines just to see how it affected sales).

    A taser seems a bit much and the cartridge refills will break your bank account.

    Maybe a little bag of nuts will offer some protection: if the squirrels could speak, I could hear it now, “Leave a bag of nuts near your bike or we will chew it up.” Sounds like a protection racket to me. If it chews like a squirrel, eats like a squirrel, and evades any human attempts to trap it, it is a squirrel.

    Very smart critters, very smart indeed.

  4. Steve says:

    I had to deal with squirrel-related damage to my bike’s saddle and water bottle cage, and to the headlight on my girlfriend’s bike (the little bastard made off with the rubber on/off button), when our rides were stored outside on the apartment balcony. That pissed me off more than all the stolen garlic, onions, and tomatoes that the furry jerk nabbed from our planters…

  5. LOL, i love this article! That’s crazy it was a squirrel. I love squirrels but i think i might have a change of heart if one messed with my priced folding bike.

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