Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say a cow moose was illegally killed by poachers near Moser Creek Road in the Hyalite area.
Wardens received a call Sunday that a calf was near a dead cow moose and could be heard crying out.
While responding to the call, wardens were kept away from the cow's body by the calf when it acted aggressively. Rubber, non-lethal bullets were used to keep the animal away after attempts to haze the calf away with branches and rocks were unsuccessful.
The dead cow had been shot twice and was likely shot from the road. Officials believe the incident occurred sometime between Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning.
Moose hunting season does not open until Sunday, Sept. 15.
"Killing and wasting an animal like this is stealing from the people of Montana," said Warden Brian Lloyd. "It's selfish and we take it personally."
Anyone with information about this crime is urged to call 800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668). Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
The calf in this case is at least a year old and appeared to be very healthy. Officials say it has a fair chance at survival without its mother.