Dwindling numbers have made moose sightings more of a rarity in Minnesota, so it's unsurprising that the appearance of two yearlings near one northern Minnesota town is generating plenty of excitement.
Contributors to the Beautiful Photos of the Mesabi Iron Range Facebook group have posted pictures of the moose that have been spotted alongside Highway 37 west of Cherry, Minnesota, this past week.
But in a warning to drivers, one posting says the pair of moose "seem very much out of their element" and that one of them was almost hit by an 18-wheeler on Monday.
"That driver had his foot to the floor and was able to slow down enough to give the moose a chance to get across," it said. "Please help keep these two moose and drivers safe by spreading the word."
This has been backed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which told the Mesabi Daily News it is urging drivers to keep an eye out for them when they are passing through the area.
DNR moose biologist Dawn Plattner told the newspaper it is likely that the pair got "kicked out by their mother" as she tended her latest offspring, and are believed to have traveled from the Sax Zim Bog, or wildlife areas south of Cherry.
"It appears that these are just two teenagers out exploring," she said. "Unfortunately it's near the highway."
A recent survey from the Minnesota DNR found that there are currently around 3,450 moose in Minnesota, compared to 8,840 in 2006. The drop over the past decade has been blamed on a combination of disease, warmer weather in some years and moose falling prey to wolves and bears.
DNR issues turtle, fawn, loon warnings
It's been a busy week for DNR officers who have issued several warnings to Minnesotans to be conscious of animals as nesting season gets underway.
On Monday it urged drivers to be wary of turtles crossing Minnesota roads as they make their way to familiar nesting locations, noting roadway deaths are believed to be a major factor in why turtle populations are declining across the U.S.
And on Wednesday, the DNR urged people who come across fawns or young loon families to leave them alone, telling the Grand Rapids Herald Review it's a time when loons nest and fawns need to rest.
Fawns are left in a secluded spot by their mother in the weeks after they are born, as they have trouble keeping up with their mothers. The doe returns every few hours to feed the fawn and then take it to a new hiding place.
Last year, a sleeping fawn was found sleeping in an empty swimming pool in Bloomington.