DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Parks and Wildlife are warning residents to keep their pets away from wildlife after two dogs mortally wounded deer.
“People may forget that their pet dog is a predator and they can injure and kill wildlife if not properly controlled,” said Wildlife Officer Joe Nicholson. “Dog owners are liable for the damage they cause to wildlife.”
In October, CPW said there were two incidents in Jefferson County involving dogs attacking doe deer. On Oct. 20 in Evergreen, a dog owner was cited for both illegal take of the deer and for negligently allowing their dog to harass wildlife.
CPW said they've yet to find the dog and its owner involved in the other attack.
According to CPW, dog owners can be cited for negligently allowing their dogs to harass wildlife, which carries a $274 fine including surcharges.
If a dog attack leads to the death of wildlife, the owner can be cited for illegal take. In Colorado, the fine associated with illegal take would be $959 for deer and $1,370 for elk, including surcharges.
Even if attacks are minor, CPW said when dogs chase wildlife it can cause extreme stress. According to CPW, deer and elk expend crucial energy when running away that can lead to an increase in the mortality rate of the animals or their unborn calves and fawns.
Letting a dog chase or attack a wild animal during winter can lead to more dire consequences.
"By winter, deer and elk are just trying to survive the snow and lack of forage," Nicholson said. "If dogs chase them, they quickly expend their already limited fat stores, leading to poor health and eventual death from starvation. That is what we are trying to prevent."
CPW isn't just worried about wildlife, they want to remind pet owners how easily some wild animals can kill dogs.
Area Wildlife Manager Mark Lamb said moose see dogs as a predatory threat and will aggressively try to stomp any dog that approaches it. According to Lamb, that oftentimes leads to the owner becoming the target of an angry moose.
In Colorado this year, there have been at least four moose attacks, three involved dogs.
Pet owners should also worry about mountain lions, bears, or coyotes that can easily make a meal of a dog.
"Predators do not differentiate between their natural prey and a dog," said Lamb. "You don't want to be in a situation where you watch your pet being eaten. The best way to keep this from occurring is to either keep the pet close to you on a short leash or leave it at home if you are heading to an area where you might encounter wildlife."
While there are several recreational areas throughout the state that allows dogs to run free, CPW strongly recommends keeping pets on a leash whenever encountering wildlife is likely.
To report any instance of dogs chasing wildlife, the public can call their local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office or Colorado State Patrol. For the contact information for the Southeast Regional offices, click here.