DENVER, Colo. (KUSA) - Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have a warning for dog owners - "If your pet chases wild animals, officers have authority to shoot it."
Wild animals are protected by Colorado law.
"Under state law, if they see a dog that is harassing wildlife, law enforcement officers have the authority to put the dog down. They can shoot your dog," Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said.
The Colorado Park and Wildlife office gets reports of domestic dog attacks a few times a week, Hampton said. He said sometimes a friendly game of chase between your dog and wildlife could have dire consequences.
"Deer and elk spent the entire summer and fall consuming food. They fatten up," he said. "What happens when your dog goes out and chases that deer, it utilizes some of that energy and that's the energy it needs to survive the winter in Colorado."
Hampton said officers shooting dogs is rare - it might happen once or twice a year.
"That's not what anybody wants to do, we all have dogs, love dogs, they're part of the family," he said. "We understand that, but we also have an obligation to protect Colorado's wildlife."
In Colorado, the fine associated with a pet bothering wildlife is about $300.