How Pet Owners Can Avoid Wildlife Violations in Colorado
Although there are several recreation areas in Colorado where dogs are allowed to run free, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) strongly recommends keeping pets on a leash whenever there is a chance they may encounter wildlife. This is advisable to protect your pets from predators and also to protect wildlife such as deer and elk from being injured or killed by dogs.
As a dog owner, you may be fined if your dog harasses, injures, or kills a wild animal. If you enjoy exploring the natural beauty of Colorado with your pet, it’s important to know how these wildlife laws are enforced.
Heavy Fines for Dogs That Harass or Kill Wildlife
Although your dog may feel like it’s part of the family, in nature it’s also a predator. It’s your responsibility to protect wildlife while you are out with your dog. When a dog kills a wild animal in Colorado, owners can be cited for an illegal take. The fine associated with an illegal take is $959 for a deer and $1,370 for an elk, including surcharges.
Pets are not allowed to chase wildlife in Colorado. Negligently allowing a dog to harass wildlife is an infraction that may subject dog owners to $274 in fines, including surcharges. It may seem harmless for a dog to chase wildlife, but it can lead to increased mortality for animals and their unborn calves and fawns. Wildlife animals need to conserve their energy, especially in wintertime, and being chased by a dog is not healthy for them.
Dogs and their owners may also be subject to attack when your pet goes after a wild animal. If your dog harasses a moose, for example, it will defend itself by stomping on the dog and it may try to stomp you when you intervene to protect your pet. In Colorado, four recent moose attacks have been reported and three of them involved dogs. Bears, wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions are also a threat to you and your dog if they are provoked.
Dogs May Kill Wildlife in Colorado
Two incidents where deer were mortally wounded by dogs highlight the importance of restraining your pet when wildlife may be present. In one of the attacks, the dog owner was fined for an illegal taking and for allowing their dog to harass wildlife. Authorities have not located the dog responsible for the other attack.
Wildlife officer Joe Nicholson notes that unrestrained dogs can be a serious problem. “People may forget that their pet dog is a predator, and they can injure and kill wildlife if not properly controlled,” he says.
To report pets chasing or attacking wildlife, call CPW or the Colorado State Patrol.
Your Colorado Wildlife Law Attorney
Wildlife laws are often complicated, and the penalties can be severe. If you are a sportsman, landowner, outfitter, or pet owner who has been charged with violating these laws, contact the Colorado Wildlife Law Lawyer today by calling (720) 836-1777.
Sit down with us in a FREE, confidential consultation to talk about your case and learn how we can fight for you. We’re on your side.