One would think that the sky was falling last week as we were approaching near freezing and freezing temperatures this early in the season. With those low temperatures, come some active wildlife. Department of Natural Resources folks to traffic reporters have been warning us that deer could cause a lot of accidents. Deer of the male variety are out and about looking for mates at this time of the year which means that any of us could cross their paths. With that stated, there have been some nasty recent accidents on the freeways thus far this season.
It looks like it's time for those deer hunters to get busy to help reduce the deer population, but it's probably too late to do anything about it in Metro Atlanta. Certainly the hunters may reduce the deer population where they are permitted to hunt in North Georgia, but most likely, they cannot hunt in the exurban, suburban and urban areas.
Let's face it: with growth and construction going on in the Peach State over the years, Georgia's wildlife has moved in all around us. Deer sightings inside the Perimeter are nothing compared to black bears foraging through Forsyth County subdivisions or the notorious case of the feral hogs in Lithonia. Let's just get used to the fact that wildlife is here to stay. From owls hooting in the darkness as bats fly feverishly overhead to our friends including the "play-dead" opossums and the ever-hungry raccoons who have no problem coming within feet of you to eat just about anything.
This talk of wildlife typically brings me back to the squirrels. The tree-dwelling rodents have been quite active throughout the past month, but it seems that over the years, they have been even more aggressive with all of us. Not only do the squirrels wish to take up residence in the top or bottom portions of our homes to stay warm and have babies, they have the nerve to inflict damage upon us. Recently in Sioux City, Iowa, a math professor's bicycle was vandalized. Was it possible that the suspect could have been a mad student? Math professor/bike owner Matt Strom reported the vandalism to Estherville police. Curiously the metal parts of the bike were unscathed in the incident, only the soft materials such as the rubber and plastic portions of the two-wheeler showed damage. Police were baffled. Those who knew about the professor and his bike were puzzled. Who would do such a thing to an innocent associate professor of Mathematics in quiet Estherville? That type of professor in this setting reminds me of Alan Alda as a sweet bike-pedaling history professor in the 1986 film Sweet Liberty. So, who would wish to harm such a nice fella's bike? I'm not sure, but if the bike scandal saga remained a mystery, it would have been time to phone up Dateline NBC's Keith Morrison to produce an hour-long special on this case.
As it turned out, Keith was not needed. Not terribly long after authorities left the scene of the crime, a local aviation instructor caught the vandal red-handed, or in this case red-pawed or maybe even red-clawed. It turns out that the bike vandal was a squirrel. The town was stunned according to The Sioux City Journal. Sioux City Animal Control owner Cindy Rarrat said she’s, "...never seen anything like that before." The animal control owner received reports over the years of squirrels eating roofing materials and wiring, but a bike? Never! Rarrat said that nearby Iowa Lakes officials could try trapping the bike-eating squirrel, but it would be a challenge to find the right one.
I have an idea for Ms. Rarrat. We all know that in Iowa, all creatures are innocent until proven guilty so no one ought to harm the squirrel. You must catch him or her in the act. Set-this rotten rodent up. Have Professor Strom place his bike out for the squirrel - even place some peanut butter bait in the tire for good measure. Apparently the professor has been taking his bike indoors and since it's been a while, the squirrel might be confused so this vandal has to be properly baited. When the squirrel is caught in the act, mark him or her up with spray paint. Place traps throughout town and if that spray-painted squirrel is caught, you have the right "man" or "woman." It's up to you whether you wish to provide this squirrel with a lawyer and provide him a fair trial or take up a barbaric method of dealing with the furry-tailed, bike-eating rodent. The choice is yours.
Those in the wildlife community have gotten bolder and honestly, who can blame them? Humans have encroached so much on their territory, wildlife has gotten the nerve or chutzpah to eat whatever we have around them. Very soon, no tire, wire, bike seat or garbage lid will be safe from the wrath of wildlife. Instead of calling up television's Keith Morrison, it sounds like we ought to call up horror film Producer/Director Wes Craven. Nightmare in Simpsonwood might be coming sooner than you think to a theater near you.