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Creepy, Crawly Critters

The Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River on August 1, 2007, killing 13 people. After an shutterstock_125749664investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), faulty design was blamed for the collapse. However, the original culprit was pigeons. Pigeon droppings contain acids and ammonia, and if not removed will eventually rust steel and dissolve concrete.

At The 2013 IPI Conference & Expo, I stumbled across the booth of a company that specializes in pigeon problems. Avian Flyaway is an expert in bird control services and bird deterrent systems that are used across the U.S., including on famous landmarks such as the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. I wish I had their information earlier in my career, when we accepted contracts where pigeon droppings were so bad that we had to use a snow plow to help remove them.

This made me want to compile a list of other critter issues we’ve witnessed over the years in parking:

Opossums. Last year, we had to remove an opossum from our parking lot. The opossum was affixed atop a reserved parking sign and apparently did not want to give up his parking space. I’ve heard that opossums play dead as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, this critter missed the memo, and instead growled and snapped its teeth at anyone and anything. Luckily, with a friendly nudge from a broomstick, it jumped and took off.

Snakes. Earlier this year, we had a four-foot snake slither underneath the bottom of a truck whose owner parked at his home in a rural area. The parker drove his truck downtown and parked in the garage that houses our office. The snake decided he had enough fun in the truck, got down, and checked out the parking garage. Several screams later, we were able to locate and capture the snake, who can now be visited seven days a week at the local zoo.

Elephants. (Thankfully, this did not occur in one of my facilities.) Giving a whole new meaning to the elephant in the room, a circus elephant escaped from his handlers and galloped through a municipal parking lot. No one was injured. You can watch the video here.

As far as animals and parking working together, check out the website to the Denver Zoo parking garage. From their website: “Combining graphics, a sound system that challenges visitors to name the animal, and well-lit parking levels, the garage is secure and easy to navigate. Many features have been incorporated to insure easy zoo access for all visitors. Each level has been given a specific animal designation: level one, the top level of the garage, is Boa; level two is Macaw, three is Tiger, and four is Zebra. Graphics on each floor correspond to the animal name, making remembering which floor a car is parked on that much easier.”

Do you have any interesting parking garage critter stories? Please share with us in the comments below. Rest assured, no animals were harmed in their removal from the above mentioned parking facilities.



About Isaiah Mouw, CAPP

Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, LEED Green Associate, is a vice president for Municipal Citation Solutions, at Republic Parking Systems. He serves on the IPI Advisory Council, Sustainability Committee, and Parking Matters® Committee.


  1. Paul Wessel says:

    Great post. Gives new meaning to inclusive parking facilities. Looking forward to seeing more stories about critters trying to reclaim the land.

    By the way, the Denver Zoo parking garage was designed by RNL Architects, a Denver based firm that also did the equally impressive NREL parking garage. For more about their environmentally sensitive design approach at the zoo, see

  2. Scott Kangas says:

    From a March 2003 posting I’ve saved over the years. Take it for what it is worth….


    At another location, which shall remain nameless to protect the felonious, the owner, a billionaire media magnate who owns half of Montana, was formerly married to an Academy Award-winning actress and who sometimes says really crazy things and really loves buffalo (but I can’t tell you his name), saw that his deck had a SERIOUS pigeon infestation.

    He DEMANDED that the “parking people” take care of this as his personal vehicle (an old decrepit truck!) was getting “creamed” every day. However, knowing his wife was really into animal rights, he also DEMANDED that no pigeons be harmed. They should be CONVINCED to leave….

    So the parking people tried everything, but nothing worked for long. There were a LOT of pigeons here and they were mutliplying!

    The parking manager ran into the owner in the building elevator and though this man had a million things to do with his billons of dollars, he always remembered the little people. So he says, “Get rid of those f*****g pigeons for us yet? No? I didn’t think so as I had to clean the CRAP OFF MY truck with MY TIE (he never wore a tie so the manager was not sure what all that meant).

    Then ominously, he added, “Get rid of them or we will find SOMEONE ELSE WHO WILL!”

    The manager took this to mean that the “someone else” would be using his desk and his office and taking his lunch break.

    The elevator continued and the 2 were in silence. Others boarded from other floors. At the lobby, the doors opened and everyone began to exit. As it came to be his turn, the billionaire glanced over at the parking manager, who was cowering in the corner and said, “Clint Eastwood would know what to do about a bunch of D**N pigeons!” (the billionaire had made a LOT of money off Clint Eastwood). Then he winked.

    That very night, a man dressed in black, his face shrouded by a ski mask entered the garage at around 3AM armed with a pellet pistol, an inexhaustible supply of CO2, and several garbage bags. In less than 2 hours the population had been wiped out by this maniacal menace to society and the dumpster smelled kind of funny. The man in black returned twice more, each time to a dwindling population.

    The perpetrator was never caught, and as a footnote, it is duly noted that pigeons are NOT stupid. They do communicate and their distress signals are heeded by their comrades. The deck did not have a pigeon problem for several years thereafter, though they were quite common in other decks nearby.

    Though some might call them Flying Rats and wish them ill, I must conclude by stating clearly and forcefully that no pigeons were harmed in the writing of this email.

  3. Jeff Petry says:

    FINALLY! Awesome article!

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