A female moose at Grand Teton National Park’s Gros Ventre Campground became so agitated by a crowd of park visitors on Wednesday morning that it tripped into a fire grate, injuring its hind leg so badly that it had to be euthanized. Park rangers have responded by closing parts of the park and cracking down on visitors who get too close to wildlife, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reports.
With moose mating season in full swing in the park, safari companies and photographers have been visiting in greater numbers. Grand Teton spokesperson Jackie Skaggs told the News & Guide that the combination of a dense crowd and a bull moose pursuing the cow moose caused the cow to run. She ended up stumbling over a picnic table and landing in the fire grate. The moose left behind a calf that may not survive the winter, according to Skaggs.
Park rules require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from moose and 100 yards away from bears and wolves. But Skaggs said that wildlife watchers and photographers have been “getting way too close.” In response, the park has put plainclothes law enforcement rangers on patrol to cite visitors who disregard the rules. The park also plans to close some roads to give the moose more room.
After the moose was euthanized, some photographers were antagonistic toward rangers. “Comments were being made that ‘this is public land, and I have a right to be here, and you can’t tell me to leave,’” Skaggs told the News & Guide.