Dogs a hazard for wintering deer

Winter weather(regardless how severe) is tough on white-tailed deer populations and domestic dogs on the loose will only exacerbate the situation. (Don’t get me wrong I am a huge dog lover, but I agree that man’s best friend has no place in the wild pestering the whitetail herd)

You may recall my story from a few winters past where a barking howl of a animal in my back field broke the early morning silence. At first I thought it was a coyote but the distinctive domestic canine sound reverberated.


One of my neighbour’s dogs had apparently gotten loose and was chasing deer through my backfield!! My heart sank as I knew the implications.

The deer I was feeding at the time included an orphaned fawn and a buck with a bad leg (pictured above) were not seen again for more than a week.

I never did locate that pestering dog, but evidently it really put the run on my deer, as the lame buck finally returned to the feeder limping worse than I’d ever seen. He could barely walk at this point.

Less than 3 weeks later that same buck could walk no more and the Ottawa Police were called-in to have it put down.

The incident is a reminder of why we MUST control our pets, especially during wintertime.

Pet owners who allow their animals to run wild -regardless of the breed – are NOT ONLY breaking the law, their actions can be devastating for deer at a fragile time of year. MNRF Conservation Officers deal with belligerent pet-owners every winter and are authorized to destroy any dogs seen chasing or injuring deer in areas where herds gather for the winter.

Penalties for allowing your dog to be at large during the closed season for deer, range from $155 up to $25,000. 

Both domestic and feral dogs can create undue stress for whitetails as they gather in yards for protection. At this time of year, when deer subsist largely off fat reserves, the simple act of running through deep snow for long periods can drain much needed energy reserves, and leave the animals unable to cope with cold winter temperatures.

Winter stress is also directly proportional to the health of fawns born in the spring.

Should you witness any dogs on the loose in your area, please call 1-877-TIPS-MNRF (613) 847-7667 toll-free any time.


6 thoughts on “Dogs a hazard for wintering deer”

  1. My Beagle stays house and kennel bound till well after the fawns are born now. This is a tough enough time for the deer, they don’t need any more stress

    1. Iggy, from what I have seen over the years, it is not trained hunting dogs that pose a hazard to wintering deer. Its more so the larger ‘family pets’ and owners who do not keep proper tabs on them, that are the problem.

      In recent years, however, the coyotes have ‘ironically’ evened the playing field in this regard. Many large dogs running free in coyote country have been attacked, and severely insured, by yotes. Small breeds do not have a chance against an eastern coyote or ‘coywolf’ and I’ve heard from a neighbor that even VERY large & powerful dog breeds like the Rottweilers are no match for a coyote or coywolf.

      So its in everyone’s best interest to keep rover under wraps during the winter months, for their safety and for the deers’ safety.

      Now that leaves one burning question, what the hell do we do about the coyotes within City limits??????


  2. It’s funny, at our cottage on the Quebec side I sent out an email politely warning people that if their dog was caught loose and chasing deer they could be shot. Wow what a $h1+ storm that caused. You should have seen the replies and comments. I tried to explain that it wouldn’t be me that shot their dog but it could be a CO or a hunter who witnessed the harassment.
    Finally I just told them if they kept them on a leash they had nothing to worry about but you talk to any local and not one would hesitate to take matters hint their own hands

  3. My Dad tells a story about growing up on the farm in the thirty’s. Everyone had a black and white collie and every one had sheep. Once a dog started to run sheep and kill them,
    you had to get rid of the dog. A neighbors dog was seen running sheep, my grandfather
    confronted the owner, the owner told him to shoot the dog on sight. My Grandfather did that the next day. The following day the owner showed up with the dog. Wrong dog was shot.
    No big deal, that’s the way it was, today there would be huge law suit and police investigation.

  4. Quote imacdon “No big deal, that’s the way it was, today there would be huge law suit and police investigation.”

    Yup times sure have changed. sad indeed

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