As winter progresses, more and more big game animals move out of the locations where they spend much of the year and into lower lying areas to spend the cold weather months. With the onset of winter, big game animals, especially deer and pronghorn often move considerable distance and it is inevitable that this migration sometimes brings the animals into areas where people live and recreate. One of the ever present problems facing wildlife is conflicts with dogs as the movement of big game animals brings them close to outlying subdivisions in search of food.
In recent weeks, conflicts have occurred in and near a number of Wyoming communities. In Jackson, the Game and Fish office has received a number of reports of conflicts between dogs and deer and moose. In one case, a deer had to be put down due to its injuries from a dog and in another instance a dog was injured by a cow moose.
Game and Fish stresses this is the most vulnerable time of the year for wildlife as food is harder to come by and the fat reserves animals have built up during the summer are being used up. Even if the animal is not actually caught and killed by a dog the stress of being chased causes it to use important energy reserves that could be better used obtaining food.
Under Wyoming law, dogs that are found chasing big game animals may be killed by wildlife officers and the pet owners may be cited. Even though the owners may not know their dogs are chasing wildlife, a citation can still be issued.