Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Stranded, Dead or Orphaned Wildlife
Moose, Bears, and Other Mammals
Orphaned mammals - Leave them alone!
Many of the calls to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) about “orphaned” animals involve bears and moose.
Don’t assume a young animal is an orphan simply because it is alone. Often its mother is nearby and will return once you have left the area. Almost always, the proper response is to leave the animals alone.
Female moose and bears will walk away from their calves and cubs if they think their young are safe. Cow moose and their calves are sometimes separated by fences or roads but usually find each other again. Female black bears will often send their cubs up trees to wait while the mother goes off to hunt or fish.
Even when an animal truly is orphaned, it is usually best to leave them alone. Do not attempt to feed or pick up an orphaned animal yourself or tell anyone else to do so. Unless you have a permit, this type of contact with animals is illegal and may result in a fine.
Because wild animals can carry disease or become aggressive, it is never a good idea to try to handle them. If wild animals are held in captivity and then released, they can spread new diseases (for example, from nearby domestic animals) into wild populations. A common misconception is that wild animals can be placed in zoos. In truth, there are very few placements available. All decisions to take an orphan animal into captivity must be approved by the ADF&G Division of Wildlife Conservation Permits Section (see below).
When should I call for help?
If you observe a lone calf or cub over an extended period of time, or you believe there is a safety concern, please feel free to contact ADF&G for help:
- First call your local area management wildlife biologist. If you don’t know who that is, you can ask at your local Alaska Department of Fish and Game office.
- Other helpful contacts:
- The department’s Division of Wildlife Conservation, Permits Section in Juneau, (907) 465-4148
- The Division of Wildlife Conservation Headquarters in Juneau, (907) 465-4190
- Local wildlife troopers (look in the phone book under State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement)
Sick, dead and diseased mammals
Wild animals can carry diseases that may spread to humans and animals can become aggressive if disturbed. Please contact your local ADF&G office if you find a sick or dead animal and need assistance.
Dead or injured moose sometimes pose safety hazards if they are near trails or homes; part of the concern is that their smell or distressed calls may attract bears. If you have concerns, please call your local ADF&G office.
Find out about a variety of wildlife diseases and parasites commonly found in wild animals, or diseases that are being tracked by the department’s veterinary program.