On April 10, an Idaho game warden was responding to a wildlife call in the town of Pocatello when residents informed him of a loose dog that had just killed a mule deer fawn. The officer walked to the scene and confirmed that the freshly-killed fawn had died from wounds consistent with a predatory attack. According to a recent press release issued by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), he then witnessed the dog in pursuit of other mule deer before shooting and killing the animal.

“Several reports of the incident had been made to the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office by other witnesses, and a deputy had also quickly responded to the scene,” the IDFG stated. “According to information provided to Fish and Game by the deputy, these same dogs had been observed chasing and attacking deer in the area in recent weeks.”

In Idaho, it is illegal for domestic dogs to harass wildlife. State statutes authorize any peace officer or game warden to destroy any dog found running at large and actively tracking, pursuing, harassing, attacking, or killing any big game animal. The dog that was shot during the April 10 incident was returned to its owner, officials reported, and the owner of another dog that was also chasing deer was issued a citation and fined $136.

It was the third reported occurance of off-leash dogs harassing big game in Idaho since the start of 2023. In late February, multiple pet dogs were killed by a game warden, also in the town of Pocatello, after harassing wintering elk and killing one elk calf. Around the same time, a loose dog chased and killed a mule deer buck in the Quigley Canyon area near Hailey, Idaho. 

Related: Deer Kills Utah Family’s Dog in Backyard

“It’s tough on our officers to have to make these decisions,” said Jennifer Jackson, Regional Communications Manager for IDFG’s Southeast Region.  “Many of our officers are dog owners, too.  But, it’s also tough to watch deer being chased down or killed by people’s pets—especially now after such a hard winter when these deer are so vulnerable.”