Coeur d’Alene—Spotlight City

A Big Kitty in the Core

Story and Photos by Mary Terra-Berns

IDAHO magazine first featured Coeur d’Alene as a Spotlight City in our February 2004 issue. We figured it was time for a revisit.

A few years ago, when I was working for Idaho Fish and Game, the ladies at the front desk got a call about a bobcat hunkered in the shrubbery at the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce building downtown. When they asked me to go check it out, I was skeptical. I figured it was a gray version of Buttercup or Fluffy inspecting the downtown habitat. The chamber had sent photos, so I went to our front desk to see if I could tell if it was Fluffy or Buttercup. It was neither. It was definitely a bobcat. 

Great, a bobcat smack in the core of downtown. I envisioned a circus situation involving tourists and locals, their cellphone cameras on record, ready for that perfect social media shot. I really hoped the local reporters were busy with more important breaking news.

I rallied one of the technicians from the bullpen—they generally love to attend wildlife hijinks—but didn’t share my social media trepidation with them. We filled a crate with crumpled newspaper and an old towel, and then I rummaged through my wildlife wrangling garb to grab sturdy leather gloves and a claw-and-bite-resistant jacket.

When my trusty technician and I drove through the morning traffic and the chamber building came into view, I was pleased to see no crowd, only the city animal control truck parked in the lot. The tension in my neck and shoulders melted away. Our quarry, tucked under shrubbery around the building, was doing its best to stay hidden. The employees thought it a good idea to hold a door open for the cat to enter, which, from a wildlife biologist’s viewpoint, I can affirm is a totally bad idea.

I admonished them to close the door, stay inside, and watch through the glass. Once the door was closed, we encouraged the kitty to evacuate the shrubs and move in the direction of our strategically placed crate. What ensued was a bit of a rodeo, as we moved to block off every escape route except the one leading to the crate. When the bobcat saw what probably appeared like a small dark cave, it ducked inside, went to the back, and hid under the newspaper. Before it could rethink its decision, I closed and locked the door.

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Mary Terra-Berns

About Mary Terra-Berns

Mary Terra-Berns is a freelance writer and biologist with a Masters degree in fish and wildlife sciences. She has worked with rare species such as wolverines, Canada lynx, red-cockaded woodpeckers, and many not-so-rare species. An Idaho native, Mary enjoys hiking, fly-fishing, running, skiing, snow shoeing, and traveling. Her Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes guidebook can be purchased at

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