Part of being a responsible dog owner in Colorado means playing along when it comes to leash laws and other important rules that are posted at outdoor recreational areas.

These types of rules exist not only for the safety of humans and their dogs but also for the benefit of wild animals who live in these outdoor spaces as well. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are reminding people who choose not to abide by designated rules at parks and other outdoor areas may face penalties, such as citations or hefty fines. Ultimately, owners are liable for any damage they cause to wildlife.

Recently, CPW officers responded to two separate situations in which owners were letting their unleashed canines chase deer. Unfortunately in both cases, the female deer that were being chased became mortally wounded.

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Both of these incidents took place in unincorporated Jefferson County.

One of the scenarios occurred on October 20, near Evergreen. According to CPW, the individual was cited for negligently allowing their dog to harass wildlife. In addition, they also received a citation for an illegal take, which is what happens when an attack leads to the death of wildlife.

The owner and dog involved in the second illegal incident have yet to be identified.

Like many other animals, dogs are natural predators, and they can easily kill or wound wildlife if they aren't being properly controlled. Beyond that, when dogs chase wild animals, it can cause stress and other injuries to these creatures. Similarly, species in the wild don't differentiate between their prey and dogs, meaning they could aggressively attack if given the opportunity. Plus, a dog owner can also often end up becoming the target during an encounter and wind up getting injured.

Even though it's legal for dogs to be off-leash at some parks and outdoor spaces, wildlife managers still recommend keeping them connected, especially in areas where an encounter with a wild animal could be likely.

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