In late February, a loose dog chased and killed a mule deer buck in the Quigley Canyon area near Hailey, Idaho. In a separate case that occurred around the same time in Muldoon Canyon outside of Bellevue, Idaho, two off-leashed dogs chased multiple wintering mule deer through deep snow, the agency reported in a recent press release provided to Field & Stream. The altercations come on the heels of yet another ordeal in which two dogs were shot and killed by a game warden after fatally mauling elk calves near the town of Pocatello, Idaho.

In both of the more recent cases of off-leash dogs harassing wintering wildlife in Idaho, the owners were issued infraction citations by IDFG conservation officers. While there are plenty of public lands in Idaho and across the West that allow for off-leash dogs, the IDFG said it’s illegal for an unleashed dog to actively track, pursue, harass, or kill a big game animal.

“With increasing snow depths and ongoing cold temperatures, big game animals throughout southern Idaho can’t tolerate the added stress of being chased by off-leash dogs,” said Conservation Officer Cody Smith. “While we all may want to recreate with our dogs, everyone needs to do their part by not allowing their unleashed dogs to stress or kill wintering wildlife.” 

IDFG officials stressed the potential that even friendly dogs can have for chasing and harassing vulnerable wintering wildlife when they are allowed to wander off-leash and their predatory instincts kick in. The agency recommends that residents living in remote areas check their yards for deer and other wildlife before letting their dogs out.

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“Consider keeping pets under your control with a leash when going into your yard—especially [in winter],” the IDFG stated. “If at night, consider joining them outside with a flashlight in hand to scare off any critters that may be in your yard.”