A Homer, Alaska, resident recently captured a delightful video of Ginger, the house cat. In it, Ginger attempts to do what most Alaskans know is a bad idea: approaching a mother moose and her calves.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane doesn't condone Ginger's behavior.
"Young (moose) are very vulnerable," Coltrane said, "and mothers are especially aggressive this time of year."
Between the time calves are born until they're strong enough to move about on their own, mothers will be exceedingly defensive. "From the end of May until the end of June is the peak season (for human-moose conflict) ... it's a critical time period while the calves are not very mobile," Coltrane said.
Ginger appears to be an exception, or more likely the munchkin mammal just wasn't perceived as a threat -- a luxury most humans and canines are not graced with when it comes to cows with calves.
The biggest perceived threat to an urban cow with young are bikes and dogs, Coltrane said. "Dogs are a way-larger threat then people (on foot)," she said, "(and in) areas where there's low visibility and high speeds (moose) can be a real hazard to bikers this time of year."
So far, it has been a largely incident-free spring. "We haven't had that many calls (about aggressive moose or moose-related disturbances) yet this year," Coltrane said. "But I've heard second hand that there's been a few reports of moose charging bikers in the Kincaid (Park) area."
Coltrane advises bikers to ride with caution and avoid mothers with calves whenever possible.
"One of most common misconceptions is if (bikers) make noise that (moose) will move. But they don't move. They just prepare to stomp you ... A moose will come 40 yards out of woods -- out of nowhere -- at you if there's a calf back there," she said.
Pedestrians, too, should keep their eyes peeled, "Just being (a human) in close proximity is a treat," Coltrane said, "with a loose dog, a huge threat."
"The thing with moose," she added, "is they can go from 0 to 60 in, like, six seconds. So, if they're showing any signs of stress get away. If they've got their hackles up" -- like the moose in the video above -- "you'd want to get away from that moose immediately."
According to Coltrane common signs of stress in moose include laying their ears back against their head, like horses do, and licking their lips. Just don't be like Ginger. Give moose, especially moose with babies, lots of space. For more information on moose safety, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Contact Katie Medred at katie(at)alaskadispatch.com