THORNY TWANG – A porcupine perches on Wild Bill Simon’s guitar case after wandering into the Frontier Bar last week.

A porcupine walks into a bar...

By Andrew Cremata • Photos courtesy of Dylan Healy

No, really. A porcupine walked into Moe’s Frontier Bar around two in the morning on Tuesday August, 14. The circumstances surrounding the porcupine’s motivation are, as yet, unclear, but it did not ask for a drink when it unexpectedly entered the local watering hole.
On-duty bartender Monica Wilcox was made aware of the underage patron when she heard someone yell, “Porcupine!”
Wilcox quickly called the Skagway Police Department as the rodent rambled its way through the establishment. Safety was her first concern.
“It was two in the morning. I was doing last call. I wanted to get out,” she said.
Bar patrons had varied reactions to the presence of the unwanted guest. Said Wilcox, “One person thought it was a dog and was following it around saying, ‘Here, puppy.’”
Summer local Mike Felber, oblivious to the initial commotion, had the most intimate interaction with the stray animal. Upon noticing the out-of-place creature, Felber, unaware that porcupines wield over 30,000 needle-sharp barbed quills, decided to take action.
“I was sitting eight stools in,” said Felber. “I looked down and there was a porcupine. I gave him a little shove with my foot.”
The fact that Felber was wearing flip-flops made his bravery even more astounding. Felber said the 20 quills removed from his foot and leg left behind some marks and light bruising.
“After that I don’t really know what happened,” said Felber, who obviously went into a state of shock after the incident.
Bartender Abby Kramer was off-duty on the night of the animal encounter. Kramer, on crutches from recent knee surgery, described her traumatic encounter.
“I let out a scream. All the girls were climbing onto their chairs and stools. I was trying to climb on mine, but I needed some help because of my leg,” she said.
Dylan Healy, cook for the Skagway Brewing Company, was in his room down the alley from Moe’s when something caught his attention.
“I heard someone screaming down the alley,” he said. “That of one Ms. Abby Jo Kramer.”
Healy did what anyone hearing a woman’s screams emanating from a tavern late at night would do – he grabbed his camera and ran down to investigate.
Healy said the porcupine ran along the length of the foot-rail and into the far corner of the bar, which is normally reserved for local musician Wild Bill Simon. Apparently wanting to make a little music of his own, the porcupine climbed and sat atop a stack of guitar cases where it stood facing away from the crowd, quills loaded for bear.
With the situation potentially turning prickly, local police sergeant and amateur porcupine wrangler Ken Cox entered the bar in response to Wilcox’s call.
“The porcupine was in the corner where Wild Bill Simon does his thing,” said Cox. “I tried to shoo it out, but that wasn’t working. I thought to myself, ‘What the heck do I do now?’”
“I couldn’t shoot it,” he added.
“Danielle Arnold said she had some thick blankets,” said Cox.

Sgt. Ken Cox corners the porcupine in the back of Moe’s before throwing a blanket over it.

Cox used the blankets to envelop the wily animal. “A patron picked it up and shooed it out the back,” he said.
Cox said when, and if, the situation ever comes up again, he would approach it differently.
“I have a procedure on what to do next time,” he said, and explained a scenario where the use of the department’s long-handled dog catching pole could be used to contain the animal and safely ensure its release.
Cox said the police department was already aware of the porcupine’s proclivity for mischief as it had brutally attacked two local dogs earlier in the week near the Ore Terminal.
The current whereabouts of the thirsty miscreant are unknown, and no one knows where it may strike next.
A representative from the biology department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who wished to remain nameless, offered some advice via telephone if one happens to encounter the rogue rodent.
“Stand back,” she said.
•••••••
Editor’s note: Moe’s Frontier Bar will be closing toward the end of next month. Watch for stories in our September issues on this passing of a Skagway institution. If you have a favorite Moe’s story, please contact Andrew at 907-983-2157.