WILDLIFE

Dogs have been chasing wildlife, DWR reminds owners it’s illegal

Feb 14, 2023, 6:00 AM

Elk Relocation...

Elk Relocation (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wants to remind dog owners to keep their dogs from chasing wildlife.

Public Information Officer with the DWR, Faith Jolley said that multiple dogs had chased, attacked and badly injured an elk around Starvation Reservoir. 

Why wildlife needs extra protection this year

This winter deer, elk, and moose are on the move into lower-elevation areas. “It’s been a particularly hard winter on some of these big game species … they are surviving right now on their fat reserves because the heavy snow covering up their main food sources,” said Jolley.

DWR’s monitoring data proves that the increased snowpack and the extreme cold across the state could impact fawn survival rates. In addition, it may negatively impact the ability of many adult deer to survive this winter.

Why you shouldn’t let dogs harass big game animals

Off-leash dogs, not contained within a yard may act on their instincts to chase big game animals they see. “If they get chased, it uses up energy they may need to survive,” Utah DWR’s Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said in a press release adding, “These animals are already depleted and often can’t afford to waste energy. If you or a pet force them to move away from where they are trying to feed, it could be harmful and can impact their survival.”

Throughout Utah, there are many areas where dogs are not required to stay on a leash while hiking, and owners should not let their dogs chase wildlife. It can be harmful not only the wildlife but also can be dangerous for your pet. “Wildlife is often unpredictable and may injure or kill a dog seen as threatening,” Mangus said. 

Utah law states that a person may kill or injure a dog that is “attacking, chasing or worrying any species of hoofed protected wildlife”, so is in your best interest not to allow your furry companion to chase wildlife.

How to keep your dog safe

Jolley suggests that dog owners:

  • Be mindful that big game animals might be migrating through your yards, neighborhoods, nearby fields, and or roads.
  • It’s best to keep your dogs inside if there is big game species in the area.
  • We recommend keeping dogs indoors during dawn, dusk, and at night. That tends to be the time when wildlife is most active.
  • Keep your dogs leashed, even if it’s in an area that doesn’t require leashes.

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Dogs have been chasing wildlife, DWR reminds owners it’s illegal