Alaska is on the cusp of moose calving season. The season won’t peak until mid-May, but pregnant cow moose are getting irritable as they prepare to give birth.


“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that just prior to giving birth, before they have the calf, those moms are getting pretty testy,” said Ken Marsh, spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.


Marsh was at Kincaid Park over the weekend. The Anchorage park is a popular hangout for moose, bears and humans, who all coexist along its beaches and trails.


On Marsh’s visit, he said, he saw two cows that looked like they were “right on the verge” of giving birth.


“There was one laying down on the bottom of Mize’s Folley. She was panting and nuzzling, kind of like how dogs do when they are getting ready to give birth. I imagine she was having contractions,” Marsh explained. “I saw another one, not far away. She looked like she was about ready to explode.”


Fish and Game has already received reports of a moose in the Klatt Road area dropping calves late last week, but most births will occur closer to May 20, Marsh said.


[Related: Web Extra – First moments of newborn moose caught on camera]


After the calves arrive, humans should continue to recreate with caution. Cows will be protecting their gangly young calves.


“The problem is, with a cow moose that has a newborn calf, that newborn isn’t able to get up and run away, so even with the bear bells and shouting and hollering, mom isn’t going to run off and leave that little calf. She is going to stand her ground. So, when she hears you coming, she is going to be standing by. And when you come around the corner, she is liable to get defensive,” Marsh said.


Bikers on the singletrack have, in the past, captured their encounters with cows during calving season by using GoPro cameras. But Marsh said the issue is often under-reported.


If you encounter a calf, which looks like they’re alone, it’s important to remember not to interfere. Fish and Game says it’s common for cows to leave their calves for short periods if the cow thinks they’re safe. Often the cow will return once you’ve left the area.


If you see the animal alone for an extended period of time, call Fish and Game at 907-267-2257.


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