When dogs attack in Summit County
A deer died after it was attacked Saturday night by a dog near Chalk Creek Road, a state wildlife official said.
"We responded there and the dog actually had got a hold of the deer and ripped the deer apart," said Bruce Johnson, a Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer. "We had to eventually put it down Sunday morning because of its injuries. It was so badly injured that it was going to die."
Bystanders shot video of the attack.
"Witnesses had seen the dog attack the deer," Johnson said. "We and animal control responded to the scene that night."
The dog that attacked the deer belongs to a man in the Coalville area. The man was issued a misdemeanor citation "for allowing wildlife to be taken by a dog," Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Johnson issued a warning in a separate case, to a man in the Park City area who is the owner of a dog that chased a herd of elk near Trailside on April 30.
"It’s the first complaint we have had on that dog," Johnson explained.
Dogs in Summit County have chased and injured several deer in the past few weeks.
"The dogs see the deer and the elk and naturally they want to chase and play," Johnson said. "They will chase the deer to the point where the deer is exhausted."
To bring deer down dogs tear apart their hind quarters, he said.
"We have complaints year-round," Johnson said.
Dogs in Summit County must be leashed when they are out in public, he stressed.
"Dogs that chase once and get a deer, they will continue to chase," Johnson said.
Officers are not out to destroy people’s dogs, however, state law allows citizens to kill dogs that chase wildlife or livestock.
"We don’t want it to get to that point," Johnson said. "It is 100 percent preventable if people will keep their dogs leashed."
The owners of dogs found running at large have been cited for violating several county ordinances, which make it illegal for dogs to harass or attack wildlife.
"Hopefully, we find the dogs and we find the owner," Johnson said. "We run the gamut from warnings, to citations, to the dog being euthanized."
The restitution when a dog attacks a deer is about $400, he said.
"Fines can also be several hundred dollars," Johnson said.
Deer and elk are vulnerable in the spring after they lose weight throughout the winter.
"You don’t realize, unless you see it, how vulnerable the wildlife is this time of year," Johnson said. "One chase though a short area could be the difference between the deer living and dying."
Sometimes deer and elk cannot outrun dogs in deep snow.
"Dogs are able to chase and easily harass the animals," Johnson said. "Deer expend valuable energy avoiding attacks from dogs. If the deer survives the chase, it has expended so much energy reserves that it can die."
Johnson estimated that he has received about six calls in the past two weeks involving dogs chasing wildlife.
According to reports at the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, two dogs were chasing about 10 elk near Trailside Park April 11 at 9:58 a.m.
On April 4, a caller from the North Summit area told a dispatcher a "group of dogs ripped a deer’s leg off."
"Every year, Summit County Animal Control has numerous calls on dogs running at large and chasing wildlife in the area," said Shelley Keetch, an officer at Summit County Animal Care and Control. "When we arrive a lot of the time, the deer is severely injured and often has to be killed."
Incidents that involve violations of wildlife laws can be reported by calling (800) 662-DEER.
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