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Thursday, June 13, 2013
Big Bend National Park (TX)
University Researcher Found Dead In Park
On June 7th, Michael O’Brien, 25, of New Orleans, Louisiana, was found dead near the Homer Wilson Ranch in Big Bend National Park. O’Brien had a permit via the University of Louisiana-Lafayette to conduct geology research in the Sierra Quemada during the period from June 3rd through June 6th. On the morning of June 7th, he was determined to be overdue and a search was begun by park rangers. The official cause of death has yet to be determined, but a contributing factor could have been the extreme heat the park experienced all week, with air temperatures near 110 degrees or greater in the area he was working.
[Submitted by Allen S. Etheridge, Chief Ranger]
Denali National Park & Preserve (AK)
Visitor Shoots Charging Moose In Self Defense
On the evening of Thursday, June 6th, the park received a report that a visitor had shot and injured a cow moose near the Denali Visitor Center. The visitor, a 26-year-old man from Eagle River, Alaska, said that he and four other people, including two small children, encountered the moose at close range when they rounded a corner on a trail. They attempted to hide behind a tree, but the moose continued to charge. As she approached, the man shot her in the head at close range. He said afterwards that he did it because he was concerned for the safety of the children and felt he had no other recourse. The man was visibly upset when he reported the incident to the responding rangers, who had to destroy the mortally injured moose. After investigation of the statements of the party and a review of applicable law, the National Park Service has determined that no prosecution will be recommended to the Office of the United States Attorney. Although the discharge of a firearm and taking of wildlife in the park are both violations of CFR, investigators found nothing to contradict the man’s statement that he shot the moose in self defense. 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.
[Submitted by Kris Fister, Public Affairs Officer]