By Steve Quinn
JUNEAU (Reuters) - A protective female moose with two young calves has injured at least three campers, one of them severely, within a 10-day span at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, park officials said.
Officials at the park about 120 miles southwest of Fairbanks have been warning campground guests about the mammal's erratic behavior, and had temporarily closed a handful of sites at Riley Creek Campground.
"Cow moose are good moms but not always the best neighbors if you get too close," wildlife biologist Pat Owen said in a Denali Park news release on Friday.
The defensive moose, powerful enough to stave off a full-grown grizzly bear, has prompted officials to provide newly arriving campers with an orientation specific to this cow and her young ones.
Staff at the park, which gets about 400,000 visitors annually, said guests must be at least 75 feet from the moose and avoid taking selfies, or engaging in behavior it might perceive as threatening. Even at a greater distance some moose may become jittery, staff said.
The campsite happens to be ideal habitat for the cow moose with calves because of an abundant food supply provided by aspen and willow tree sprouts, park staff said.
While most of the injuries have minor scrapes from falls while fleeing the charging moose, one woman was knocked down by the moose who then kicked her in the head and shoulders.
The woman was taking photos of the moose and its calves when it became aggressive and charged a crowd, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
The woman was taken to a Fairbanks hospital and treated for cuts to head and ear, park staff said. There was no word on her condition.
(Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Editing by Eric Johnson and Grant McCool)