Dogs Chasing Deer In Winter
I wanted to remind residents about dogs chasing deer in neighborhoods. A few weeks ago while I was on morning vehicle patrol through the Valley, I viewed a strange site out of the corner of my eye. A Mule Deer Buck in a cul-de-sac jumped and twisted in the air, dropping his head and pointing his antlers toward something on the ground.
As I drove by I saw a large dog (approximately 100 pounds) confronting the deer and barking. I began to slow down and had to brake suddenly when the deer came running across the road a few feet in front of me with the dog chasing close behind. I stopped the vehicle at the side of the road and upon exiting viewed the deer jumping over a resident’s fence to flee the dog. The good news is that the deer was safe as the dog could not jump the fence with deep snow in the area. After driving along Mesa Oak to search for the owner, I spoke with two men and one said the dog ran out of the house when it saw the deer. I am glad this incident ended without the dog or deer being injured either by fighting or a vehicle collision.
“Keep in mind during winter, deer expend large amounts of energy to stay alive – they can lose 30 percent or more of their body weight during the cold months. When big game animals are forced to run they become exhausted and use up valuable calories they need to stay alive. In addition, many female deer are pregnant and need to conserve energy. Pet owners can be fined up to $275 for allowing their animals to chase wildlife. Dogs observed chasing wildlife can be shot by law enforcement officers.” (Dogs Chasing Wildlife article, Colorado Parks and Wildlife)
Please keep your dog on a leash! If you witness a loose dog chasing wildlife you should call the local Parks and Wildlife Officer, local Animal Control or Ken-Caryl Ranch Park Rangers.
By Open Space Ranger Peter Marozas