The Conservation Officer Service in Vanderhoof has received three complaints in the last week regarding dogs chasing deer.
Violation tickets can be issued by Cam Hill, the Conservation Officer, or by the RCMP in the amount of $345 or a court accessed penalty of up to $100,000 or one year imprisonment for a first offense where an owner allows his dog to run at large and pursue wildlife.
“Dogs are generally able to travel quite freely on the crust of the snow while deer and other ungulates are having a difficult time moving around,” said Hill. “Deer are very vulnerable this time of year as they are becoming weakened by hunger due to their lack of mobility and access to food and pregnant females are particularly susceptible to injury or death due to dog harassment.”
In one case, it was determined that a dog, or dogs, killed two deer, a young Whitetail buck and a doe, in the Sturgeon Point area near Vanderhoof. And in Fort St. James a doe mule deer had to be put down after injuries and constant harassment by dogs out on the ice of Stuart Lake.
In the other case, five lab dogs were seen running deer along the Nechako River west of Vanderhoof.
Although the Wildlife Act authorizes the Hill to put down a dog observed harassing wildlife, he would prefer not to.
“If I have any idea who the owner is I would contact them but in the past I’ve not been able to find the owners have had to put dogs down.”
The Wildlife Act doesn’t specifically say that the public can shoot dogs observed chasing wildlife it is a real risk.
“Many residents, including those who operate farms and ranches, will not tolerate dogs running at large,” said Hill. “Dogs that chase wildlife are also prone to chasing livestock and again, a year like this with very icy conditions, makes livestock, as well as wildlife, particularly vulnerable to serious injury from falling on ice.”
Hill has seen dogs that have been the gentlest of family pets hunt and kill deer just for the pure thrill of the chase. If your dog is wondering at large, he or she may be a danger to wild and domestic animals and one day may not come home.
Anyone who sees or is aware of dogs harassing wildlife is encouraged to contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-RAPP(7277). Callers can remain anonymous.