by Nathan Warner
To one bear in Zimmerman, motorcycle apparently tastes good.
Tammy Luukkonen got a call Friday from her husband, Roy, while she attended a school function for one of her kids. “He said the seat and saddle bags on my motorcycle were shredded into thousands of pieces and lying all over the patio,” she said, recalling the conversation. “I couldn’t believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.”
The Luukkonens live seven miles east of Zimmerman, not far from Crown down a half-mile-long driveway in the woods. When Tammy got home and saw her motorcycle, she said she was speechless.
The saddlebags, seat, and anything that could be torn from the bike was either gone or ripped off and strewn about. There were even chunks chewed off the rear fender and teeth marks in the license plate and blinkers.
The damage, Tammy said she believes, could only have been done by something as large as a bear since the 600-pound Suzuki Boulevard c50 had also been dragged three feet, leaving skid marks on their concrete drive. Somehow, though, the motorcycle had remained upright on its kickstand.
“We’ve seen black bears around the area for a few years now,” she said, “but they usually just go after the garbage.” The mother of two young boys says she can handle garbage-eating bears, but this bear obviously crossed the line.
“I don’t understand it,” Tammy said, “I never keep food in the saddle bags, just bungee cords, sunglasses, and napkins and this happened in the middle of the day!”
The bear didn’t even touch Roy’s Suzuki c90 that was parked next to her bike.
The Luukkonen’s dog, a German shorthair pointer named Baby Belle, usually spends the day outside after the kids get on the bus and go to school, but that day she chose to stay inside. “Maybe she’d have kept the bear away if she’d been outside,” Tammy says.
Tammy and Roy bought the bike in 2005 after a deer hit Roy and totaled his motorcycle less than two miles from their house.
“At the time, I was using a smaller bike,” Tammy said, “but then I outgrew it and took this one when Roy bought his c90.”
The appraiser valued the damaged motorcycle at $4,350 and offered a buy-back option of $1,800 as an alternative to totaling it.
After much consideration and debate, Tammy has decided to let her roughed-up motorcycle go back to the insurance company.
“At some point, you just have to laugh,” she said, “who else can say that their motorcycle was eaten by a bear?”
Her husband’s Suzuki c90 is staying at her parents’ house for the winter while they keep a lookout for a bear that’s willing to approach their house in broad daylight and destroy limited edition motorcycles. Tammy says she’s also going to keep her kids closer to the house and make sure Baby Belle is with them when they’re playing outside.