Be Alert! Protective Mothers Watch Over Cute, “Orphaned” Wildlife Babies
- ADF&G Press Release

Cora Campbell, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811
Phone: (907) 465-6166 - Fax: (907) 465-2332

Press Release: May 15, 2013

Contact: Ken Marsh, Information Officer, (907) 267-2892,

Be Alert! Protective Mothers Watch Over Cute, “Orphaned” Wildlife Babies

Hikers, bikers, dog walkers and others stepping outside to enjoy springtime in Alaska are urged to keep a wary eye out for wildlife babies – particularly newborn moose calves and bear cubs – and the protective, sometimes aggressive mothers that watch over them.

May and early June is calving season for moose and prime time for encounters with cow moose intent on keeping people and pets away from their calves. Several attacks by moose defending calves were reported last spring in the Anchorage area alone.

“This is probably the most dangerous time of year to be around moose,” said Anchorage wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane. “Cows will be dropping calves all over town soon. If you’re walking through a wooded area, you need to be extra vigilant. Those cows are so defensive of their little babies they will literally stand there on the edge of the woods watching you and if you take one step into their personal bubble, they’ll come out hooves flying.”

Brown and black bear sows are equally protective of their young and, like moose, may be encountered around urban greenbelts, bike trails and neighborhoods as well in wilder settings.

If a moose calf or bear cub is encountered without its mother immediately in view, be alert because you may have walked between them. The best course of action is usually to turn and leave from the direction you came.

Do not assume young animals found alone are orphaned. Often the mother is nearby and will return once people leave. Mother moose and bears often walk out of sight from their young. Cow moose may become separated from calves by fences or roads, but usually find each other again, while sow black bears often send cubs up trees to wait before leaving to find food.

Even when young animals truly are orphaned, the best policy is to leave them alone. Do not attempt to feed or pick them up; unless you have a permit, this type of contact with animals is illegal and may result in a fine.

If you observe a young animal left alone for an extended period of time, or if you believe there is a safety concern, call your nearest Alaska Department of Fish and Game office. For more information, visit


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