Severe winter weather conditions throughout much of the state have Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officials urging that dogs be confined to
protect deer and elk.
WDFW enforcement officers are receiving a growing number of reports about
dogs chasing and harassing deer or elk.
Dogs can easily chase and even kill deer and elk over deep snow, especially
when it has an ice crust. Dogs race across the top of crusted snow on their big paws,
while deer and elk flounder when their sharp, heavy hooves punch through it.
Wildlife biologists say dogs instinctively pursue deer or elk, which are natural
prey species for canines.
The chase itself drains precious fat reserves needed by deer and elk for winter
survival. Some are chased to the point of exhaustion, which can lead to death in severe
conditions. Other chase-worn deer or elk are attacked by dogs. The elk and deer die
slowly and painfully.
Dog owners can be cited for violating state law which prohibits allowing dogs to
chase deer or elk. The misdemeanor citations carry a minimum $152 fine.
The department, which has authority to confiscate or destroy dogs chasing wild
animals, hopes dog owners will restrain their pets.