LARAMIE - The cold temperatures and heavy snowfall that have taken place in Wyoming mountain areas this fall not only lead to a change in activities for Wyomingites, but for wildlife as well.
With the onset of winter, big game animals often move considerable distances, and it is inevitable that this migration sometimes brings the animals into conflict with people. One of the ever-present problems facing animals as they get close to houses is conflicts with dogs.
Laramie game warden Bill Haley said this is a critical time for wildlife as food is harder to come by and the fat reserves they have built up during the summer are being used up. "This is the most vulnerable time of the year for wildlife," Haley said. "Even if the animal is not actually caught and killed by the dog, the stress causes the animals 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.
In recent years, a number of citations have been issued amounting to thousands of dollars. Most communities have ordinances that prohibit owners from allowing their dogs to roam uncontrolled, and for wildlife, keeping dogs under control is especially critical during the winter months.
Haley said that many people have moved to rural areas because they enjoy wildlife and simply are not aware of what their pet is doing. "People have a responsibility to control their dogs," Haley said. "The killing or harassment of big game animals by dogs is a needless waste of wildlife."
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)