Biologists warn Alaskans to leave moose calves alone

Biologists in Alaska are reminding people not to touch moose calves or try to take them home as pets following a string of incidents involving people handling the animals, including one household that had a calf in the living room "as if it was a puppy."

Moose are being born in Alaska this time of year, and biologists say people should leave the calves alone -- even if they seem to have been abandoned by their mothers.

Most of the time, the mothers eventually return to their young.

In one recent case in Willow, a calf was put in a backyard dog run with a collar around its neck.

Another calf was taken into a home in the Wasilla area. "They just had it in the living room, as if it was a puppy," state biologist Todd Rinaldi said.

Last week, someone tackled a calf at an Anchorage mobile home park and tied it up with an electrical cord, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Such encounters can lead to calves being taken to zoos or wildlife conservation centers, wildlife officials said. Taking an animal into captivity is dangerous and illegal, and it can lead to animals being injured or worse, officials said.

In the Anchorage incident, someone called authorities Friday to report that a cow moose with two calves was running around a mobile home park. At one point, one of the calves separated from the mother.

"Evidently, some man took it upon himself to tackle it and tie it up with an electrical cord," Anchorage area wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane said.

The calf ran off with the cord hanging from its neck, Coltrane said.

That night, police called Coltrane and told her the calf was running through the mobile home park again, this time without the extension cord.

Police and others corralled the calf nearby, Coltrane said. They also found the mother moose.

"It's people with big hearts that are well-meaning," Coltrane said. "But sometimes being well-meaning and knowing what's best for the animal are two different things."