Kim Quigley says when she gets old enough to forget the names of her children, she'll still remember the sight of a 400-pound male moose standing over her screaming infant daughter.
"I trembled and shook for at least an hour and a half, imagining what would have happened if the moose had stepped on her," Quigley said this week.Quigley lives with her husband, Ken Stepanik, and their three children about nine miles north of West Yellowstone. She said she was loading her car for a trip into town Feb. 24 when she came outside to find her 19-month-old daughter, Laura, lying under the moose and screaming.
The animal was less than 20 feet from the house, she said. It was standing over the toddler, not touching her, but blood was pouring from Laura's mouth.
"I was terrified," Quigley said. "All I could think was that she had internal injuries, and I had to get the moose off her."
Quigley said she screamed at the moose, which responded by curling its lip and barking at her. She then ran to the house, grabbed a boot and threw it, hitting the moose. He stood his ground.
She said her next weapon was a ski pole, which she jabbed in the direction of the moose. This made him edge away from Laura, who was still screaming. Quigley said she ran to her child and picked her up.
The girl's mouth was cut above her top row of teeth, Quigley said.
She said she then stood quietly, realizing that the moose would probably leave if it was not threatened. The animal slowly walked away, and Quigley and Laura got in the car.
Quigley said her daughter then seemed unconcerned,matter-of-factly pointing at the wandering moose as it walked off and imitating its growling sound.
After last month's encounter, local game warden Dave Etzwiler tranquilized the moose and moved him with a truck out to an area near the Madison River, where it leaves Yellowstone National Park.
"Moose are quite different from elk," said Etzwiler. "They can be ornery, and they will stand their ground and even charge if they feel threatened."
Etzwiler said he wouldn't have recommended that Quigley act any differently than she did. He said whether she yelled or stood still would have had little effect on the moose, which for some unexplainable reason was in an aggressive mood.