Keep Fido secured for sake of deer, elk | AspenTimes.com

Keep Fido secured for sake of deer, elk

Wildlife officials are reminding dog owners to keep their pets under control after a pack of five ran loose recently and nearly killed an elk across the Roaring Fork River from Lazy Glen.Kevin Wright, Aspen District wildlife officer with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said he didn’t arrive on the scene soon enough to capture the dogs. He found a bloody trail leading to where the elk crossed the river to flee its tormentors.”One of the dogs was trying to get it in the river as well,” said Wright, who talked to a witness.Wright said many dog owners cannot imagine how their loyal pets can transform when they’re chasing wildlife. Dogs aren’t efficient killers, like wild predators. When they kill a deer or elk, “It’s not a pretty sight,” he said. “They’re basically torn apart while they’re alive.”He’s written a ticket this year to a woman at W/J Ranch after her unsecured dog chased a deer. The fine for harassing wildlife is $200 and there is a surcharge of $74.Wright said rural residents cannot just let their pets roam at will without major effects on wildlife. When dogs go free, it expands the “zone of influence” that development has in wildlife habitat.And when dogs chase deer and elk, it could lead to a death sentence for all involved. Big game expends a lot of energy fleeing the dogs. That cuts into their fat reserves. Those reserves might be needed to survive the winter, Wright said.It could be a matter of life and death for the dogs, as well. Wildlife and law enforcement officers have a legal right to shoot dogs that are found harassing wildlife.”We have this every year,” Wright said. “I don’t know why people can’t control their dogs.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com

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