Letting your dog chase wildlife could cost you or your dog big time

Posted By elaine on February 8, 2011

dowDogs chasing wildlife is becoming a problem, a problem that is dangerous to both the dogs, wildlife and your wallet.

Colorado Division of Wildlife says their offices are receiving reports of dogs chasing wildlife, especially deer.deep snow

“This is the time of year when deer are weak, gathered in small groups and are easy targets for dogs,” explained Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose.  “Dogs chase wildlife at all times of year, but winter is the worst time,” DelPiccolo added. “Deer are at their most vulnerable because they are in survival mode. If they get chased it uses up their energy and they might not survive the winter.”

During winter, big game animals can lose 30 percent or more of their body weight.  Many female big game deer familyanimals are pregnant at this time of year, so they try to conserve energy.

Many dog owners don’t realize when dogs see other animals they may act on their genetic instincts and give chase.

In mid-January in the Ridgway area, two deer died after being chased by dogs. One deer was killed by the dogs; the other had to be euthanized. The dog owner was ticketed and paid a fine of $276.   They were lucky however; fines can total more than $1,000 depending on the circumstances.

 The incident was reported by neighbors who observed the attacks.

“Dog attacks on deer are absolutely brutal,” DelPiccolo said. “Dogs tend to hamstring deer by biting at the animal’s legs. But many times they also like to bite and grab hold of the face.”

This action isn’t only hazardous for the wildlife, dogs caught chasing or harassing wildlife can be shot by law enforcement officers. A landowner can shoot a dog that is harassing livestock. Most cities and counties in Colorado also have leash laws that require keeping pets secure.deerdogs

“Pets allowed to run at large also are at risk from vehicles and predators,” says DelPiccolo. “If you care about your pets, it’s in their best interest to keep them secured.”

People are also reminded that feeding big game is illegal. Feeding concentrates animals in groups, making them easier targets for dogs and predators. When animals are in close contact diseases can be spread quickly among the animals. If you see someone feeding big game, call the DOW.

While dogs chase large animals, cats also cause problems because they kill birds. Cat owners should limit the amount of time their cats spend outdoors. Using a bell collar can sometimes help to warn birds that danger is approaching.

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