A Wild Winter in Montana

And as much as I love snow, even I can get tired of it after a while. Sometimes you’ve had enough frolicking in a winter wonderland, and you just want to call it a day and hunker down with a delicious beer from one of the region’s many microbreweries. This kind of weather probably calls for something dark, like a Porter, a Stout, or a Scotch Ale. Or maybe you want to really thumb your nose at the cold, drink an IPA and dream of floating the river. This was apparently the plan of a bobcat in Butte, who decided he had had enough of the cold on Sunday  night, and that he was ready for a pint. Or two. So, he did what any reasonable Montana resident would do, and he strolled over to the Butte Brewing Company on Galena Street in Uptown Butte. He made it through the first set of doors, which were open, and into the–vestibule? let’s call it the vestibule–but, unfortunately he was foiled by the second set of doors, which were closed. Which is a shame, because I really would have liked to know what kind of beer a bobcat would go for.

This is not the same bobcat. This is a happy summer bobcat.

Bobcats, of course, are nocturnal, cats, and pretty darn sneaky. So, while spotting a bobcat is quite rare, it’s probably not that usual for a bobcat to slink (this, I’m told, is the technical term) around Southwest Montana’s ‘urban’ areas. An urban bobcat you might miss, an urban moose, less likely. Standing nearly 7 feet tall, weighing sometimes more than 1,000 pounds, and composed entirely of legs, moose are North America’s second largest land animal. They are also, despite their cartoonish appearance, surprisingly slinky. The word “elusive” is frequently used.

In the middle of downtown however, they tend to stick out a bit. That was the case last Friday when a cow moose and her calf decided that really what they wanted to do was visit downtown Missoula. This was a slightly more tense situation than the bobcat. Moose can do a considerable amount of damage if they are alarmed or distressed, and as anyone who’s tried to navigate Missoula’s downtown can tell you, it is a city seemingly designed to alarm and distress (it’s not in Southwest Montana, so I can say that). Also, moose are unusual enough that people were naturally curious for a closer look. Police eventually closed down a block of the city as they decided what to do. Eventually, the moose were tranquilized and released in the Ninemile area, just a bit out of town.

The bull calf in question. From the Missoulian.

In all, both incidents ended well for everyone involved (except the bobcat, who never did get his beer), and were happy reminders that in Montana, sometimes even the wildlife have trouble distinguishing our cities from the mountains.