ANCHORAGE -

Bethel, beware: musk oxen are near.

Alaska State Troopers issued that warning after receiving calls from concerned residents who spotted the animals that can weigh upwards of 900 pounds in and around Bethel.

Troopers report they were recently spotted in the periphery of residential homes, along winter trails and near the waterfront.

In a dispatch, troopers remind residents that musk oxen are stubborn, defensive and protective when approached; they can also be aggressive, particularly if a male is in rut or if a female has calves.

Pets also face considerable danger from the animals, one reason troopers advise anyone viewing them to keep a safe distance.

"Musk (oxen) will kill dogs," troopers wrote. "Repeatedly approaching animals in a manner which causes them to change their behavior is not only unwise but considered harassment under Alaska law."