Air Force Staff Sgt. Bob Sirvid, assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, said he regrets the moose's death but believes it would have been worse if the animal stomped him or the children and adults with him, the Anchorage Daily News (http://is.gd/9xqb0X ) reported.
Sirvid said he's never fired a weapon in combat and has a job controlling mosquitoes and other pests. He is the first visitor at Denali to kill a moose since Congress allowed guns in national parks in 2010.
"I feel very lucky that no one got hurt, that the kids are still alive, that we were all able to react quick enough," Sirvid said. "It's unfortunate that the female moose lost her life, but the family's still alive."
The National Park Service has ruled the June 6 shooting justified.
Sirvid was with friends from Illinois, Mark and Becky Diorio, and their two children when the moose charged.
Sirvid said he doesn't carry a weapon into the woods, but he did at Denali on the advice of a neighbor in Eagle River. The neighbor, a lifelong Alaskan, loaned him the .41-caliber single-action revolver, Sirvid said.
"We didn't go out there to shoot a moose," Sirvid said. "We went out there to view wildlife, to go on some nice hikes."
At the park entrance, Sirvid said, he asked a ranger whether he could bring his gun along. The ranger said he could.
Sirvid said his group went for an 11-mile hike on Triple Rivers Trail. Afterward, they headed back to their car when they rounded a corner and saw the moose about 75 feet away. The moose gave them a look and headed toward them as they backed away.
"I turned around to Mark and I said, `Mark, head for the trees, if you get struck, play dead.' I turned around and looked at the moose, and at this time, her head was down, near her shoulders, coming at us," Sirvid said. "We're starting to run off into the woods and I looked around one more time, it was really close to us, almost on top of us. I looked back at Mark and he just had a terrified look on his face."
Sirvid said he never saw any moose calves.
Sirvid had drawn the revolver and was hoping the moose was making a false charge. He said he waited until the last moment, then pulled the trigger.
The moose fell but was still alive and struggled. Sirvid walked to the visitor center, which was closed. Two employees were working inside, however, and he asked them to call a ranger. The rangers arrived and finished off the moose.
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