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Park Service not seeking charges against man who shot Denali moose

Alaska Dispatch
A female moose in Powerline Pass, located in Chugach State Park near Anchorage, during the rut, or mating season. October 12, 2012 Creative Commons photo

After a weekend of silence, Denali National Park and Preserve officials revealed Tuesday a 26-year-old Eagle River man as the individual responsible for shooting a female moose in the park, saying he was justified in killing the moose.

On Thursday, Robert Sirvid and his family were visiting Denali when the solitary animal charged them.

This is the second time an animal has been killed in the park since a federal law lifted the ban on carrying guns in national parks in 2010.

After the shooting, Sirvid told park officials he shot the moose out of concern for the safety of his family; he felt he had no other choice. Sirvid was visibly upset when he reported the incident, rangers reported.

Following an investigation, the National Park Service decided against pursuing charges, according to a statement Tuesday night from Denali NPS spokesperson Kris Fister.

Bullet didn't kill moose; rangers assist

Around 7 p.m. Thursday, Sirvid, his wife and two young children were walking the Triple Lakes Trail near the park entrance and visitor center when they came across a moose.

Sirvid reported that “they came around a corner ... and (the moose) charged him,” Fister said. The family tried to hide behind a tree, but the the moose continued to charge, so he shot it once in the head with a handgun.

The animal didn't die immediately and had to be dispatched by a park ranger, who arrived about 15 minutes later.

Moose are a common sight in the area surrounding the visitor center, which is a wooded area preferred by the animals. “If you’re going to run into a moose, it’s going to be in this area,” Fister said.

Park wildlife biologist Pat Owen said that two orphan calves, most likely belonging to the killed moose, were seen around the visitor center all day Friday and Saturday, but haven’t been spotted since.

The park is hoping to get them out of the area. “Just having them in the vicinity of the visitor center is a concern for us,” Owen said. Calves without their mother moose are extremely vulnerable, and make easy prey.

“The last thing I want to see is a bear kill outside of the visitor center,” she said.

If the calves are located, the Park Service plans to work with the Alaska Moose Federation, an Anchorage-based organization that recently lost an appeal to retain millions in state funding, to capture and transfer them to a wildlife rehabilitation center.

Carrying a firearm, whether a rifle, shotgun or handgun, in a national park was illegal until 2010, when a new federal law was passed allowing people to legally possess firearms in the park.

Months later, in May 2010, a backpacker shot and killed a brown bear with nine shots from a .45-caliber pistol within the park boundaries.