Dogs chasing deer and elk is becoming an all-to-common issue in the Wood River Valley.
Pet owners have a duty to monitor and keep their dogs under control both inside and outside city limits. Even the most well-mannered dog can give in to the temptation to chase another animal when the opportunity arises.
To avoid potential conflicts, the best solution is to be a responsible dog owner and leash your pet when hiking, no matter the season. Doing so will help make your hike safer for you, your pet, and the wildlife you may encounter along the trail.
Wildlife comes equipped with teeth, claws and hooves that can seriously injure or kill your pet. In addition, a dog that chases young wildlife may end up being chased by a protective parent right back to you.
Deer and elk go into winter having spent the summer and autumn putting on layers of fat. Stored fat, which is supplemented by limited food intake on their winter range, is generally sufficient to sustain these animals if left undisturbed. But being chased by a dog can seriously deplete deer and elk energy reserves. Should big game be chased more than a few times, its survival is highly doubtful, particularly during more severe winters. While a deer can easily evade a dog early in the season, deep snow can definitely give the advantage to the dog, especially when a hard crust forms on the snow surface. The deer is left floundering while the dog can run on the top of the snow. In situations such as this, it is not uncommon for dogs to kill deer, much to the surprise of their shocked owners.
Also, remember that many female deer, elk, moose and pronghorn are pregnant through the winter, further compounding the need for them to conserve energy resources.
This is a problem that can be prevented. Dog owners need to keep track of dogs, and train them to not chase or harass wildlife which can be done by simply putting the dog on leash.
It is against Idaho Code for dogs to track, pursue, harass, attack, injure or kill big game, unless otherwise allowed under Idaho Code. An example of this would be the lawful use of hounds for bear or lion hunting.
While an extreme outcome, any peace officer, or other person authorized to enforce Idaho laws that pertain to dogs harassing, attacking or killing big game. The officer has the authority to destroy the offending animal. In addition, the animal’s owner may receive a criminal citation.
To report an incident, contact your local Fish and Game Conservation Officer at (208) 539-4403, the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359, or call the Blaine County Sheriff’s office at (208) 788-5555. Be prepared to provide the date/time the incident occurred, where it occurred, a detailed description of the animals and who the animals belong to. If witnesses can get a photo or video of the act that is also very helpful, as the reporting party may need to sign a citation if the officer does not witness the act.