WHITEFISH – Fifteen minutes of fame can come more easily, and quickly, in the age of social media, and at a time when most everyone totes a video camera in their pocket.
Just ask Flathead Valley residents Charlie Rush and Hunter Lamoureux.
Last month the friends were snowboarding at Whitefish Mountain Resort when they came upon a moose standing on the trail. When the moose didn’t budge, they say they did.
Rush went first, heading down the slope, and that set the moose galloping down the trail in front of him.
Lamoureux was behind, and took 52 seconds worth of video he later posted on Facebook with the message, “Just chasing a moose while snowboarding … no big deal.”
But it turned into one.
Lamoureux’s original video posting has been “liked” nearly 900 times, shared almost 400 times and drawn more than 100 comments.
Along the way it’s drawn the attention of CNN, Yahoo Sports, Deadspin, newspapers, TV stations … and Flathead National Forest officials, who were not amused.
Rush, of Kalispell – whose Facebook page says he is a student at Flathead Valley Community College – was issued a citation by the U.S. Forest Service and fined $225 for violating a federal regulation that prohibits, among other things, molesting wildlife.
“It’s one of the tools, especially with the video going viral, that law enforcement has to reinforce the educational message that people should not engage wildlife,” Flathead National Forest spokesman Wade Muehlhof told the Missoulian. “They should have kept their distance.”
Muehlhof said the Dec. 19 Facebook posting of the “moose chase” was forwarded to Flathead National Forest authorities the next day by Whitefish Mountain Resort personnel.
Rush, who has indicated he may contest the citation, can do so by checking a box on the citation indicating that is his desire, and mailing it to a U.S. magistrate judge. The case would then go to U.S. District Court.
The Facebook video drew several comments along the lines of “crazy,” “awesome” and “Yeeeeee Montana!” before the 12th person who weighed in said, “That’s not the smartest thing to be doing – just saying.”
You have free articles remaining.
Not long after that, someone else wrote, “You know that thing can kill you right?” and another person noted it is illegal to “chase, harass or herd wildlife” and, ominously, called the video “very self-incriminating.”
“Well, it’s a good thing we didn’t chase (the moose),” Rush responded. “Wasn’t right behind the moose you can see me beside it trying to get around. … ”
Rush went on to say he’s never hurt an animal in his life, something he reiterated to CNN reporter Jeanne (we’re not making this up) Moos, who said Rush told her he doesn’t hunt or fish.
“I love moose,” he told Moos. “I never realized how big they were till I got that close to one.”
The pair say one thing the video doesn’t show is other snowboarders hiding in the trees, and afterward thanking them for getting the moose off the run so they could continue their journeys down the mountain.
The Facebook conversation, meantime, occasionally veers into name-calling, with some of those commenting challenging one another to fights, as people debate the duo’s decision to descend with a moose in the way.
Lamoureux, who took the video, also responded to critics.
“Look the moose was in the middle of the run where it wasn’t supposed to be and we were where we were supposed to be,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “After waiting for it to move it didn’t, so we finished out our run trying to slip past it, and the moose kept running. We were just trying to have fun, and the moose was not hurt at all in the process.”
Lamoureux, a student at Whitefish High School, can be heard yelling “Oh my God, Charlie! Oh my God” as he snowboards behind Rush and the moose and films the sequence.
It ends quickly when the moose comes to a sudden halt in the snow, turns, and appears ready to charge.
It reportedly took off into the forest instead.
Other Lamoureux posts since the incident haven’t drawn the same amount of attention. One, showing a friend snowboarding off a jump, has 22 likes and four comments.
But he can’t escape the fame. One of the comments offered this critique of the later video:
“Needs more moose” is all it says.