• wo mountain lion kittens bump into one another as they try and walk through the tall grass at FWP's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Helena.  Photo by Eliza Wiley

    Rescued mountain lion brothers headed to Ohio

    Powell, Ohio, is preparing to welcome two Montana natives to its zoo.

    Two rescued mountain lion kittens that were pulled from a wildfire zone several weeks ago are set to be delivered to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday.

    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials say it’s the best option for the brothers, according to a story by the Helena Independent Record’s Alexander Deedy.

    The kittens are headed to the Columbus Zoo. Photo by Eliza Wiley

    The kittens are headed to the Columbus Zoo. Photo by Eliza Wiley

    Just 12 to 14 days old when they arrived at the Montana Wildlife Center in Helena, the pair didn’t have any teeth and couldn’t really use their eyes. Now four weeks old, they’ve doubled in size and are starting to exhibit predator traits.

    Rhodin said they’ve started to pounce, and one will drag around a blanket he plays with.

    Besides inhaling smoke and having water and fire retardant dropped on them, the kittens did not suffer any physical harm during the fire, she said.

    The kittens now have clear lungs, bright blue eyes and are perfectly healthy. Rhodin has been feeding them a formula similar to milk from a mother mountain lion.

    Throughout the process, FWP has been fielding interest from zoos accredited by the American Zoos Association that wanted to provide a home for the cats.

    “If you try to release them before they’re 3 years old, they probably won’t survive,” Rhodin said.

    The leading cause of mortality among young mountain lions is getting killed by older males, so without a mother, the two kittens would have no chance of survival in the wild.

    Wildland firefighters battling a blaze near Florence rescued the kittens after hearing their cries from underneath a log. The blackened kittens were taken to a rehabilitation center in Helena where they recovered.

    Deedy wrote: Once in Ohio, the kittens will be kept together while young, but Rhodin said it is up to the zoo whether to put them in separate exhibits when they are older. She did say she thinks the Columbus Zoo has plans to use the mountain lions as part of its conservation education program.

    “There’s really no better place for them to end up,” Tom Palmer said.


    • John-HAY on the Spot

      JohnHAY on the Spot

    • LHAYgo MovHAY

      LHAYgo MovHAY

    • PorkHAY pig

      PorkHAY the Pig

    • PositiveBeeHAYvior

      Postive beeHayvior

    • ScoobHAYdoo

      ScoobHay Doo

    • SmokHAY the Bear

      SmokHAY the Bear

    • GodzHAYlacrop


    • HAYpunzelcrop


    • MermaHAYdcrop


    • WhinHAY the Pooh

      WinnHAY the Pooh

    Hay! This is awesome: The Montana Bale Trail slideshow

    The hay in central Montana got a makeover last weekend during the annual Montana Bale Trail What the Hay contest. Teams from Hobson to Utica to Windham to Great Falls to Lewistown put their hay sculpting skills to work to create the works of art that were displayed along the highway. 

    And, hay, it was amazing.

    Our art director Megan Richter spent some time in her hometown of Lewistown last weekend and got out on the hay trail to check out What the Hay.

    - Jenna

  • Ivory ban means Glasgow celebration will be without bagpipers

    Glasgow High School's mascot is the Scotties.

    Glasgow High School’s mascot is the Scotties.

    The Glasgow Scotties won’t have bagpipes at their homecoming celebration this year. The Canadian musicians who usually play the Glasgow Homecoming Weekend Festival are too worried their instruments will be confiscated by border patrol officials.

    Billings Gazette reporter Tom Lutey’s story says that a U.S. ban on imported ivory – which is included on the tips of some bagpipes – means the instruments can’t cross the border.

    That means the  Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums are staying home this year. 

    The band’s concern stems from U.S. border agents seizing bagpipes from two New Hampshire teenagers earlier this summer as they attempted to return home from a music competition in Canada. The United States has an import ban on ivory harvested after 1976, which is supposed to target poachers. People who cannot prove the age of their ivory also risk having it taken away.

    According to Lutey’s story, the missing musicians will mean more than music is missing from the festival.

    The Saskatoon Police Pipe and Drums didn’t just bang out a couple tunes, they brought the party. From Friday through Saturday, the group performed at the homecoming parade and the tailgate of the Glasgow Scotties football game. They played at three retirement homes and various businesses. And they went from bar to bar, banging on the drums, droning on the pipes and dancing their kilts off.

    Bar patrons would run ahead from performance to performance trying to get a good seat for the next show, Olk said. No area band has shown the stamina for so many performances in Glasgow.

    Off the hook for the Sept. 12 weekend celebration, the Saskatoon Police Pipes and Drums leader Ken Morton was elk hunting and couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Fellow Canadian bagpiper Iain MacDonald said it has become increasingly difficult for pipe and drum bands to perform in the United States. MacDonald’s Regina Pipe Band used to play in Glendive.

    Read more here.


  • Former Grizzly football standout featured on Tonight Show bit

    Courtesy of the Tonight Show.

    Courtesy of the Tonight Show.

    Former Montana Grizzly standout Brock Coyle made an appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Thursday night. Well, kind of.

    Fallon teased Coyle during his Tonight Show Superlatives: 2014 NFL Season bit with a witty eyebrow joke.

    Coyle, who is making Montana proud as a Seattle Seahawk , is from Bozeman. No word on what Coyle thought about Fallon’s bit, but he has to be feeling OK after the Seahawks beat the Packers 36-16 Thursday night.

    Always cool to see Montana kids doing great things.

    The bit aired as Montanans are getting ready for the opening home games for both the Grizzlies and the MSU Bobcats. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm, too. Shaping up to be a stellar Montana weekend.

    Did I mention we have all our new preview content up from the recently printed Sept/Oct issue? Check it out!

    - Jenna


  • In the Name of Nature: 3.5 million acres of wild

    Blue Heron are often found in the Marshes of the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Gordon and Cathie Sullivan. 

    Blue Heron are often found in the Marshes of the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Gordon and Cathie Sullivan.

    It was 50 years ago today that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law.

    Today, Montana has almost 3.5 million acres of land inside 16 designated Wilderness areas protected by the Act.

    Our longtime contributors Gordon and Cathie Sullivan have traveled the state extensively to experience and photograph much of the land preserved by the Wilderness Act.

    In our Sept/Oct Portfolio, the Sullivans take use behind-the-scenes of the tireless work of one Montanan who helped get the legislation passed.

    Sen. Lee Metcalf, a Stevensville native, is the namesake for the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge in the Bitterroot Valley.

    Raised among friends and neighbors who for generations forged a livelihood from the natural landscape, by way of agriculture, logging and mining, Metcalf grew to appreciate both the bounty nature brings to families and the  fragile character and rareness of wild places around him.

    The essay about Metcalf’s work to help pass the Wilderness Act, “In the Name of Nature,” by Gordon, really is beautiful. As are the images the Sullivans took of the refuge for our Portfolio. The full essay is online now. You’ll have to pick up a hard copy of Montana Magazine to see all the stunning images.

    - Jenna 

  • Montana Magazine

    Handmade movement strong across Montana

    What do a furniture maker, fabric studio owner, yarn shop owner, microbrewer and letterpress designer have in common? They’re all artisans who make a living keep certain crafts alive to produce made in Montana goods.

    Writer and photographer Jessica Lowry introduced readers to this set of Montanans in the July/August issue story “Crafting a Living.”

    While it’s become trendy to eat artisan pickles from Brooklyn or purchase an entire hand-sewn outfit from the online retailer Etsy, across Big Sky Country the handmade movement has more to do with putting down your smart phone, picking up a craft and earning a living.

    From Leah Morrow and Mary Ryan who own and operate Selvedge Studio fabric shop in Missoula, to Melanie Cross who teaches knitting in Kalispell, creating items with your hands and teaching others to do the same isn’t just a fad.

    It’s a way of life.

    Read about a pair of the featured artisans here.

    But what exactly is Made in Montana?

    The Made in Montana Program, which also includes Grown in Montana and Native American Made in Montana components, helps build recognition for products that are “authentically” Montana. “Made in Montana” means products are grown, created, made, and/or enhanced in the state resulting in 50 percent or more added-value. The program requires that individuals and businesses meet the program’s value-added definition to utilize the trademarked image on their qualifying products.

    - Jenna




  • Drummond celebrates its first Class C state football title after defeating Big Sandy in 2003. Photo courtesy of the Missoulian

    As schools shrink, Friday night lights rivals join forces

    High school football season is about to begin in Montana.

    Here’s a great story about rivals becoming teammates at two Montana Schools by the Missoulian’s AJ Mazzolini:

    The 1969 Philipsburg squad. The Prospectors’ roots extend back to the early part of the 20th century, while Drummond High School first fielded a football team in 1969. Photo courtesy of the Missoulian

    The 1969 Philipsburg squad. The Prospectors’ roots extend back to the early part of the 20th century, while Drummond High School first fielded a football team in 1969. Photo courtesy of the Missoulian

    DRUMMOND – The veteran coach paced the sidelines of the 80-yard pitch tucked between a four-lane highway and a hillside with modest inset bleachers. While his eyes followed the play, his feet followed his Trojans’ march toward the goal line yard by yard.

    For each stride Jim Oberweiser took, 35 football players mirrored it behind him along Drummond High School’s turf, still thawing in the late-morning sun. The huddled mass of shoulder pads and helmets flanked the 22-year coach, an impressive and intimidating show of unison from a school and a town on the verge of its first state football championship.

    Mere moments separated Drummond from a Class C 8-man title, an eventual 48-8 drubbing of Big Sandy on this mid-November day in 2003.

    “I’ve spoke with some folks who say, ‘I just couldn’t believe that when I went to this really small town to watch this football game that you had football kids lined up from, gosh, 20-yard line to 20-yard line,’ ” Oberweiser recounted.

    That victory, the 11th in a streak that reached 45 straight and spanned three state championships, marked the beginning of an 8-man football dynasty in the town of just more than 300 people 50 miles east of Missoula.

    But barely a decade later – those players long ago graduated – far fewer Trojan uniforms stood guard over the sidelines. A once burgeoning roster had shrunk to 18 boys, hardly enough for a full practice. With an estimated dip to as low as 13 bodies for the 2014 season, the Trojans made a choice nearly unthinkable 10 years prior.

    Last November, following a 6-3 campaign, the Drummond School District filed the paperwork with the Montana High School Association to create a partnership with its chief geographic rival – the nearby Granite High Prospectors of Philipsburg.

    The 1969 Philipsburg squad. The Prospectors’ roots extend back to the early part of the 20th century, while Drummond High School first fielded a football team in 1969.
     Like Drummond, the equally enrollment-ravaged Pros – the school projected just 13 boys out for football this fall as well – faced a drop to the 6-man football ranks if not for a cooperative agreement to keep the program treading water in 8-man territory.

    With an MHSA stamp of approval, the Flint Creek Titans were born, a team separated by 27 miles and decades of rival history.

    * * * * *

    Though Montana’s population has swelled above the 1 million mark in recent years, rural residents in the Treasure State occupy a smaller percentage of the population than they once did. U.S. Census data shows what was once a 56-44 population percentage split in favor of smaller, rural communities has flipped the other direction in the last 50 years.

    As school enrollments continue to diminish in these areas, sporting opportunities grow scarcer, MHSA Executive Director Mark Beckman said.

    More and more schools are falling into the MHSA’s smallest classification, that of Class C. Home to institutions with 119 students or fewer, the number of Class C schools has increased 10 percent to 106 just since autumn of 2006.

    That’s 106 out of 179 total MHSA member schools.

    By consequence, the number of co-ops has climbed as well as smaller schools pool their resources to field athletic teams. Beckman counted 172 co-ops across all sports – 29 of which are football, by far the most and nearly doubling that of girls’ basketball (16). The total number of co-ops is up from 144 when he counted five or six years ago.

    “That’s concerning for the schools, but I think it’s also a good thing because these students at schools with a dwindling enrollment still have the opportunity to participate in these sports and still stay in their local school,” Beckman said. “And when you have to put 11, eight or six out (for football), it’s even more difficult.”

    The combined enrollment of schools forming an 8-man football co-op cannot exceed the upper boundary of a regular Class C institution (119 students) by more than 10 percent. For this fall, Drummond and Philipsburg predict 131 combined students – exactly the cutoff point for a co-op – though that number is expected to shrink to 121 for the 2015-16 school year.

    Enrollment drops have granted no immunities in athletic reorganization in Montana, though the western-most region of the state is only feeling the squeeze more recently. While Big Sky Country has supported 6-man football since 1982, the high-action open-field discipline didn’t reach the area until 2010 when enough schools dipped low enough to warrant the game.

    “The West (half of Montana) is behind the times as far as this movement,” said Mike Cutler, Philipsburg School District superintendent and former Granite head football coach. “The Hi-Line has just been decimated.”

    The Philipsburg native previously taught and coached 8-man at Denton in north-central Montana. Denton now co-ops with Stanford and Geyser for football.

    Cutler, along with Philipsburg’s Wally Stanghill, will continue coaching with head man Oberweiser and Drummond’s JC Holland for Flint Creek. He deferred to Oberweiser’s experience for the head spot, though.

    “Jim’s been coaching for 1,050 years,” Cutler said with a chuckle.

    * * * * *

    Drummond has nabbed the headlines and trophies in recent years with five state firsts since ’03, but Philipsburg has the deeper history when it comes to football.

    High atop Philipsburg Elementary, “1896” is carved into the gray stone monument that is the original Granite High School to represent the school’s opening. Not long after, though the exact year varies depending who you talk to around Philipsburg, the Prospectors fielded their first football team.

    There were lean years and there were squads that folks in town still discuss in earnest, said Sam Brown, 67, who played football at the school through his junior season in 1963. That last campaign in a Pros uniform for Brown falls under the latter.

    “We went undefeated, scored hundreds and hundreds of points to our opponents’ very few,” Brown recalled, a spot of pride still present in his voice.

    The game has changed dramatically since those days, noted Ron Paige, 78, a Granite grad from 1954. Football itself has always been important to the small town, though.

    “Football was such a big part of our lives even then,” Paige said, dusting off memories buried beneath decades of living. “We didn’t have leather helmets – I’m not that old – but just one little plastic bar around the teeth.

    “And unfortunately (with the nearby mines), the field was made out of manganese tailings,” Paige continued. “You didn’t want to get tackled because you had about a 50-50 chance of getting blood poisoning.”

    It wasn’t until 1979, though, that the Pros made their first and only state title game appearance. A 56-25 defeat to Richey gave Philipsburg its best state finish.

    A half-hour down Montana Highway 1, Drummond’s program was born a decade earlier in 1969. That year, to help fill out an inaugural roster and stir up more interest in the sport, Drummond opened the field to eighth graders from its middle school.

    Mike Bradshaw, a 1973 graduate of the school who recently retired as Drummond head girls’ basketball coach after 36 seasons, joined the team for his first of five years in a Trojans uniform.

    “We didn’t have the program developed like they had recently and those first few years we took our lumps,” Bradshaw laughed about it now. “We practiced on an old hay field down here, played our games up at the (current) field. But it was all dirt at that time.”

    * * * * *

    It didn’t take long for the one-sided affairs between the two schools to begin creeping toward equilibrium. By the time Coach Oberweiser took the whistle in the early ’80s, the rivalry was well-established.

    “You always want to circle one or two games on the calendar and you always want to be building to those goals,” Oberweiser said. “And one of those goals that we always had was to make the playoffs, first and foremost.

    “The second would be to defeat Granite.”

    Little changed by the time Coach Cutler, then a running back, came through the halls of Granite High, though he was coy with the details.

    “I got into some trouble with Drummond kids, to put it that way,” Cutler said with a sly smile. The 1988 grad also set a still-standing state record with 10 touchdowns in a game to beat Drummond in 1987 before going on to play at the University of Montana-Western.

    The rivalry cooled by the late ’90s as Drummond found its stride and Philipsburg began to lose footing. As the Trojans’ trophy collection ballooned, the games against P-burg started to mean less and less to the players.

    “I feel like when I got into high school (in 2002), when I was a freshman, it was still there,” said Chase Reynolds, Drummond’s record-setting running back and a future Montana Griz standout and NFL pro. “We became so dominant – not being cocky or anything – but it’s almost like it wasn’t a rivalry anymore.”

    Which is too bad, the 2006 graduate lamented.

    “Any time you have a rivalry, it’s a game that you can get fired up over,” he said. “I look back to when I played for the Griz; playing the Bobcats, you look forward to that game. It’s a special game with fans and people getting together.

    “It’s more than a football game and that’s the same way in high school. It’s good for the soul, I think.”

    The Trojans have made the state playoffs in all but one season dating back to 1998. The year before marked the Prospectors’ last trip to the postseason.

    “I’ve heard people say, ‘Philipsburg doesn’t have the tradition of football,’ ” said Granite County Sheriff Scott Dunkerson, a 1989 Granite grad and current Drummond resident. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up a few years. It’s been going for such a long time and that’s the sad part of it, to see that disappear.”

  • Photo by Jason Savage

    What’s your best bison story?

    Yellowstone National Park is, of course, a place where many buffalo roam. So before we debut our Sept/Oct issue that includes several stories from the park, we asked our friends on Facebook to tell us their best Yellowstone bison story. Here’s what a couple had to say:

    Teri Garrison: I was roaming the boardwalk near Old Faithful when this beautiful creature wandered up and past. I stood mesmerized as it ambled just feet away from me.

    Photo by Teri Garrison

    Photo by Teri Garrison

    Shanna Mae Swanson: One fall I had planned a camping trip in Yellowstone with a few photographer friends of mine. I left super early to get into the park during sunrise and had made it to the Midway Geyser Basin area just after sunrise. Before I arrived at the parking area, I had noticed a herd of buffalo in the geyser area and thought it would be pretty cool to stop and photograph them. Once I was in the parking area, I set all of my photo gear on the hood of my car to get everything organized. All of the sudden a buffalo came through the trees right in front of my car, and then another and another. The herd of buffalo were stampeding into the parking lot. When I saw the first buffalo I ran to the back of my car (because I had locked my car) and laid up against the trunk to stay out of the way, leaving all of my camera gear on the hood of my car. Here I was in the middle of a herd of bison without a camera and a hundred tourists on the other side of the parking lot taking photos of the bison and of me lying on my car. It was definitely a crazy moment and an experience I will never forget.

    To share your answer and pictures, or read more of what our friends had to say, find us on Facebook. We’ll also have some stories in the Sept/Oct issue – out soon.

    You can also email stories and photos to editor@montanamagazine.com.

    Also, look out for more Fan Feedback questions at fb.com/montanamagazine.

    - Jenna

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