A video that recently popped up on Facebook has prompted the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to issue a warning about not approaching wild animals. The video shows a family petting a moose that wandered into the town of Caribou.

The yearling moose found its way to town around the first of the year. Wardens worked to try and herd the animal close to the woods, hoping it would return there. But over and over again it just reversed direction and headed back to town.

In the video that was posted on YouTube and Facebook, a family is seen petting the moose as it lays in a snowbank. The animal certainly seems to be enjoying the attention, but wardens caution that the family was lucky. It would tempt many of us, I think, to do exactly what these people did, especially once the moose seemed happy to comply.

Earlier this week, I chatted with Doug Rafferty of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife about the video. He said it's never a good idea to approach or touch an animal because as cute as they may seem, they're still wild animals. Just because they're alone or lying down doesn't mean they're in trouble.

"That's especially true in the wintertime. Mom can't always be around. She's got to go off and look for food and sometimes the little ones get left behind. As we transition into spring, people will see more of that. If you care, leave them there and leave them alone."

Animals have been moving quite a bit lately, with the weird weather patterns. Rafferty says that may increase the opportunity to get up close to wildlife, but it's still never a good idea.

"Just be cautious and conscious of the wildlife in your area. We don't want any interactions that might result in something that nobody wants."

If you see an animal that appears to be in trouble, or is somewhere where they don't belong, don't approach them. Call the Warden Service or the local animal control officer and let the professionals take care of it.

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