Domestic dogs hard on wintering deer

This ought to get a few people going….

My latest outdoors column in the fabulous Pembroke Daily Observer newspaper! A shout-out to my pals Anthony Dixon and Tina Peplinkie, who work tirelessly from dusk to dawn bringing the daily news to folks in the upper Ottawa Valley!

Check it out online:


Jeff Morrison, the Daily Observer's newest columnist, offers up his take on the great outdoors.
Jeff Morrison, the Daily Observer’s newest columnist, offers up his take on the great outdoors.


The winter months are already tough on white-tailed deer populations and domestic dogs on the loose will only exacerbate the situation.

A couple of January’s ago as I was leaving for work; a strange sound caught my attention coming from my back field. The howl of a barking animal broke the early morning silence and my first thought was coyotes; however; the distinctive domestic canine sound reverberated. One of my neighbour’s dogs had apparently gotten loose and was chasing deer through the fields! My heart sank as I knew the implications. The deer I was feeding at the time included an orphaned fawn and an older buck with a bad leg, which were not seen again for over a week. I never did find the dog, but evidently it had put the run on them good as the lame buck returned limping worse than ever. Less than three weeks later that old buck could walk no more and the Ottawa Police were called in to have it put down. The incident was a grim reminder of why we must control our pets, especially during wintertime as snow depth increases.

Negligent dog owners

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. Conservation officers deal with belligerent pet owners every winter and, in case you didn’t know, are authorized to destroy any dogs observed 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 anywhere from $155 up to $25,000.

Testing testing

Looking back on some cold weather footwear I had the pleasure of field-testing recently, Kamik’s new Shield boots had me travelling in cold weather comfort. The famous Canadian boot manufacturer has succeeded in producing perhaps the warmest boots I have ever tried! Rated to -100 C, the Shields feature completely waterproof 900 Denier with a camo-clad nylon upper, and a completely seam-sealed construction. The removable 24mm Zylextreme liner and 4.5mm EVA insole kept my tootsies toasty on a backfield trail camera adventure during our recent cold snap. Theses boots have a moisture wicking lining, a convenient Lace Lock snow collar and feature Kamik’s patented waterproof and lightweight synthetic rubber shell. Strong like iron, yet light like helium, Kamik’s RubberHe, is the company’s own lightweight innovation. The material is a recyclable, PVC-free synthetic rubber which claims to be 50 per cent lighter than natural rubber and 30 per cent lighter than other synthetic rubbers. Kamik Sheilds would make for the perfect ice-fishing companion or the late season deer hunter. For more information on Kamik’s full line of hunting footwear:

Wild game cookbook

With hunting season over for another year, what to do with that freezer full of fresh healthy game meat? In my latest book, The Canadian Wild Game Cookbook, I explore copious options even a culinary novice has to prepare game meats in tasty and nutritious ways. The use of game meat predates the arrival of European settlers to this country. Over millennia, aboriginal communities incorporated game meat as a way of life through various methods of harvest including hunting, gathering and trapping. Wild game and conservation are still crucial aspects of the Canadian economy within native and non-native communities alike. Game meat is typically low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and is not loaded with growth hormones or any unwanted chemicals. In my 30 plus years as a passionate and responsible conservationist, I have learned first hand the benefits of game meat and share these fine attributes with you in my new book!

Pembroke fish stocking!

A special thanks to Darwin Rosien of the MNR’s Pembroke office for remembering to send me the annual Pembroke District Fish Stocking Program information. To see the distribution of Ottawa Valley lakes now teaming with spunky young brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout and splake, makes me even more anxious for spring! If you wish to be added to Darwin’s growing distribution list to see the lakes firsthand, drop him an email:

Next time

See you right here next month and contact me anytime with your Valley hunting, fishing or conservation news or stories:


7 thoughts on “Domestic dogs hard on wintering deer”

  1. it’s a bad situation when pet owners do not know the whereabouts of their dog i know people who have had to shoot dogs chasing deer and other farm animals and it’s not an easy decision but the owness is on the pet owner , who know what their animal is up to and have control over the animal as well

  2. This year, so far isn’t as bad as most because the snow is not deep, still wrong but at least the deer have a chance. It’s bad enough that the deer have to get away from wolves and coyotes, they should never be run by loose dog. As far as I’m concerned, any dog seen running a deer should be shot, by the MNR, farmer, or anyone else who cares about wildlife.

    1. I agree Iggy..and Mike, but you wouldn’t believe the characters out there who feel we are (wrongly) targeting the domestic dogs!

      You know I cover this topic every winter and I still get angry emails from dog owners saying I’m being cruel, and that we should punish the owners…blah blah. Sadly, in this case, it is the animal who pays the price of a negligent pet owner!

      But what choice is there?


  3. It makes sense to keep domestic dogs away from deer in the winter when they’re especially vulnerable.

    There should also be restrictions on allowing domestic cats to roam freely outside. Every year in Canada and the United States domestic cats and their feral counterparts are responsible for the deaths of BILLIONS of native songbirds and small mammals. So they have a devastating impact on the natural environment. Cats should be licensed just like dogs, and at the very least, should be kept inside during the spring breeding season when young fledgling birds can be caught easily.

    1. fishr, you are absolutely right, especially given the fact that cats are out on the prowl much of the time anyway!


  4. Maybe we need more fishers to mop up the cats? Easy to keep my dogs in line however cats are natural predators and I’ve had numerous house cats who liked tender young cottontail rabbits and no matter how well they ate inside they were always on the lookout for wild meat. I remember a wild cat from a litter that lived in the barn came home struggling to carry a partridge it had killed. I walked closer and that crazy wild cat dropped it and ran into the barn so I took the warm bird, cleaned it and ate it. I was feeding those cats so I didn’t feel bad and considered it a little payback. People like to drop cats in the country around houses with barns and then tell their kids that the cat ‘ran away’. These drop-offs aren’t spayed or neutered and the kitty isn’t cute when it starts spraying in the house or ends up pregnant.
    I am an animal lover but if your dog is chasing deer in winter on my property, it’s fair game.

Comments are closed.