Deer on Kodiak Island don’t have it easy in the winter. There’s little to forage, it’s cold, it’s wet, and in Alaska, sometimes you get harassed by domestic dogs.
That’s a big deal. It’s such a big deal in fact, it can cost your dog’s life.
Area wildlife biologist Nate Svoboda is with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Kodiak. He joined KMXT for a November 23 episode of Talk of the Rock to discuss things people, and particularly dog owners, need to consider entering the winter season.
“There is a state statute that says whenever a dog habitually annoys or bites a deer, any person can lawfully kill that dog when it’s at large. In addition to that, there is also a $400 penalty that would go to the landowner or to excuse me to the dog owner if that’s observed,” Svoboda said.
He says dogs being killed for harassing wildlife is rare. But traps set legally can entice and kill a domestic dog. Svoboda says traps can be set virtually anywhere on Kodiak Island, even near trails. He says many trappers are conscientious about this, but sometimes a novice might be careless.
“The thing to be aware of is if you don’t keep your dog in line of sight, your dog can be 20, 30 yards off the trail, and get caught in a trap and you might walk right by it and never know. And depending on what kind of trap it is, it could be really, really bad; leg hold traps for example, you’d probably hear a dog whining and crying or what have you- a snare that cuts off the oxygen, perhaps not. A common bear trap, they might get killed instantly. I don’t like to dwell on that stuff because it’s not very pleasant to think about, but that’s the reality of the situation,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda recommends hikers with dogs use tracking devices and bear bells to keep a good handle on where their pets are at all times. He concluded his talk show appearance by reminding listeners that it is illegal to feed deer, as it can cause them to congregate and spread disease.