"Orphaned" Wildlife Best Left Alone
- ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526

Press Release: May 25, 2018

CONTACT: Tony Hollis, Fairbanks Area Biologist, (907) 459-7256

"Orphaned" Wildlife Best Left Alone

(Fairbanks) — "Don't touch!" That's a phrase worth remembering from now through early July as newborn moose calves, young bear cubs and other wildlife babies start appearing in Alaska's backyards, urban greenbelts, and along popular trails. Tug-at-your-heartstrings cute, they may appear helpless and abandoned, but a protective mother is likely nearby.

According to Fairbanks Area Management Biologist, Tony Hollis, cow moose can be particularly dangerous during calving season.

"Give them plenty of space," said Hollis. "Try to avoid narrow trails especially where brush limits visibility."

Bicyclists and runners should be especially alert as they can swiftly top hills or round corners and run into cow moose with newborn calves. Making noise to alert wildlife to your presence is always a good precaution, but may not be enough to avoid clashes with moose cows with calves.

"Newborn calves may not be able to run from pets or people on bicycles," Hollis said. "Mothers are likely to stand their ground, even when they hear you coming."

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 back away and leave from the direction you came. Also, do not assume young animals found alone are orphaned. Mother moose and bears frequently walk out of sight, cache their young, or become separated from them by fences or roads. Sow bears often send cubs up trees to wait before leaving to find food. In nearly all cases, the mothers will return to their young, often times in the middle of the night.

Even when young animals truly are orphaned, it's best to leave them alone. Lingering nearby or approaching a young animal for a photo may discourage or delay the mother from returning. When this happens a mother may wait one or two days before returning. Do not attempt to feed or pick them up; this type of contact with animals is illegal and could result in a citation and fine.

If you observe a young animal that appears to have been left alone for an extended period of time, contact the nearest Alaska Department of Fish and Game office during regular business hours, or use the department's new smart phone-friendly link to file a report online after hours or on weekends by visiting http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/ and clicking the "Report a Wildlife Encounter" button. If the situation involves an immediate public safety concern, call 9-1-1 or contact the Alaska State Troopers.

For more information, visit http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=distressedwildlife.mammals.