It’s springtime, and there’s nothing better to cure a case of
cabin fever than to get out and go for a walk, run or just be
This seems to be the case for not only humans but also our
four-legged friends. While everyone should be encouraged to get
outdoors as much as possible, a couple of considerations need to be
made. Our local wildlife is just coming out of a relatively normal
winter. As pleasant as it looks outside, deer and elk are probably
in the worst shape they will be in all year. This is the time of
year when animals’ digestive systems shift from dry cured forage to
new succulent green growth.
If you think of the body reserves of a deer and elk like a gas
tank, right now they are on fumes, but the gas station is in sight.
The last thing they need is to use up their remaining fuel reserves
before they get to the proverbial filling station. This analogy was
used so you can get a different perspective on how our actions can
Recently, the local Fish and Game office received numerous calls
about wildlife being harassed. Here in Salmon, numerous calls have
come in about dogs chasing deer; some within city limits, others in
the rural area around town. Fish and Game would like to remind dog
owners to keep control of their dogs at all times. If you’re gone
from home during the day, keep your dog in a kennel or fenced yard
they cannot escape from. At night they should be in a similar place
to keep them from wandering. If you’re taking your dog for a walk
or run in some of the areas surrounding town, be certain you can
call them back if you happen to encounter deer or elk. Idaho code
allows for a dog that is actively chasing big game animals to be
destroyed by any peace officer or person authorized to enforce
wildlife game laws.
While this is an extreme and rarely used legislatively granted
authority, in some instances this has been the final solution to
Another form of harassment comes from the person you see in the
mirror each morning. We have significant opportunities in the
Salmon area to get out and enjoy the wildlife and wild lands around
us. Many people are now driving up back roads for recreation, “horn
hunting,” and just generally getting out.
Again, thinking about the gas tank analogy, our actions in the
hills profoundly affect the critters there. Minor disturbance, or
stress, can send deer and elk running, wildly using up the “fuel”
in the system. These disturbances come from motorized vehicle
traffic including trucks, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, and even
aircraft. If you operate any of this type of equipment, give the
critters a break and give them some room to get a safe distance
away. Even a person casually walking or exercising a dog can cause
stress to deer or elk. We’re not suggesting stopping these
activities; just give the critters a little space and a break.
I would encourage everyone to get out more and observe wildlife.
This is an excellent time of year to do so, but exercise some
common sense and show respect to our local wildlife, too.
Dane Cook is the senior conservation officer in the Salmon