JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Photographers and wildlife watchers in Grand Teton National Park have been getting too close to moose during mating season, likely contributing to the death of an agitated cow moose near the Gros Ventre campground, park officials said.
Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said the combination of a rutting bull moose, park visitors and photographers led an agitated cow moose to run, stumble over a picnic table and land in a fire grate, where her hind leg was nearly severed. Rangers euthanized the female moose Wednesday morning. She left behind a yearling calf.
"The calf was not injured in the commotion during this crush of people, but we're not sure whether the calf will survive the winter without her mother," Skaggs told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/1rexuKQ ).
Retired U.S. Forest Service ranger Anne Huebner of Idaho, who had been staying at the campground for a couple of days, said people were getting too close to the animals. Park rules prohibit people from getting closer than 25 yards to a moose. The limit is 100 yards for bear and wolves.
But not everyone follows the rules.
"We've had several reports of people getting way too close, even getting within 10 feet of a bull moose," Skaggs said.
Huebner likened the photographers to celebrity paparazzi and said people were circling the animals.
"It's a real shame that a cow has to be killed because human beings are being total jerks," Huebner said.
After the moose was put down some photographers were antagonistic with rangers, Skaggs said.
"Comments were being made that, 'This is public land, and I have a right to be here, and you can't make me leave,'" Skaggs said.
Skaggs said part of the campground will be closed and rangers will be patrolling the area and citing those who get too close to the moose.
Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com