Shooting Of Moose At Denali National Park Deemed Justifiable Self-Defense

How would you react if charged by a moose? A visitor at Denali National Park, worried about the safety of others, shot the animal in the head, a decision the Park Service has determined was justifiable.

The incident happened last Thurday near the park's Visitor Center. At approximately 7:30 p.m., park staff received a report that a visitor had shot and injured a cow moose. The visitor, Robert Sirvid, 26, of Eagle River, Alaska stated that he and four other people, including two small children, encountered the moose at close range when they rounded a corner of the trail.

According to Mr. Sirvid, while the group tried to hide behind a tree, the moose continued to charge. As she approached, he shot her at close range in the head. He later told park rangers that he did it because he was concerned for the safety of the children and felt he had no other recourse.

Rangers had to destroy the mortally wounded moose.

After an investigation into the matter, and a review of applicable law, the Park Service has determined that no prosecution would be recommended to the Office of the United States Attorney.

Under the law, the discharge of the firearm in the park is a violation of both 36 CFR 2.3(a)(1)(iii) and 2.2(a)(1) – using a weapon and taking of wildlife. However, park staff note, Mr. Sirvid stated that he shot the moose to defend the lives of the children, and nothing found in the investigation contradicted that statement.

While there is not a “defense of life” provision in the federal laws governing national parks, under Alaska State law this incident would be deemed a justifiable defense of life and not be charged as an offense, park officials said.

National Park Service wildlife biologists are actively following up on leads regarding two apparently orphaned moose calves that have been seen regularly in the area since the shooting. If the calves are located, the National Park Service will work with the Alaska Moose Federation to capture them and transfer them to a wildlife rehabilitation facility.