Idaho Game Warden Shoots Dog That Was Chasing and Killing Mule Deer Fawns

This is the second time in two months that Idaho game wardens have had to kill dogs that were harassing deer and elk
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According to Idaho law, it's the pet owner's responsibility to keep their dogs from harassing big game animals. Adobe stock

On April 10, a conservation officer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game had to make the difficult decision to shoot and kill a dog that was harassing deer in Pocatello. The officer shot the dog that evening after it chased down a mule deer fawn and killed it, according to a press release from IDFG.

The agency explains that the officer was responding to an unrelated wildlife call in Pocatello when he was approached by area residents. They told him they’d seen two dogs chase and kill a mule deer fawn, and then leave the dead fawn to chase after other deer. This was not an isolated event, officials said. The local sheriff’s office had received similar reports about the two dogs harassing deer in recent weeks.

When the officer went to investigate the dead fawn, he noticed that its injuries looked consistent with a predatory attack. He then saw one of the dogs actively chasing another deer, and he shot the dog while it was in mid-pursuit. He then returned the dead dog to its owner, who was issued a $136 fine.

“According to state code, it is unlawful for people to allow dogs to harass, chase, or kill big game in Idaho, and Fish and Game officers are authorized to shoot dogs that are actively engaged in those behaviors,” the agency explained in the press release.

This follows a similar incident that took place in February near Chubbuck, which lies just north of Pocatello. On Feb. 18, IDFG received a report of two dogs harassing elk in the area. When a conservation officer arrived, one calf elk was already dead, and the dogs were attacking a second calf, which later died from its injuries. The officer shot and killed both dogs.

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Attacks by dogs on deer and elk happen more often during the winter months, when herds are pushed down into lower elevations and concentrated near populated areas. And, as the agency pointed out on Monday, this winter has been especially hard on big game herds in the West.

“It’s tough on our officers to have to make these decisions,” IDFG communications director Jennifer Jackson said on Monday. “Many of our officers are dog owners, too. But, it’s also tough to watch deer being chased down or killed by people’s pets—especially now after such a hard winter when these deer are so vulnerable.”