Citation issued to owner of dog that attacked elk in Steamboat

Blackmere Trail on Emerald Mountain was closed Thursday after an off-leash dog attacked an elk calf.
Nicole Miller

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued a citation to the owner of the off-leash dog that attacked an elk calf Thursday near the Blackmere Drive trailhead.

The citation was for harassment of wildlife, and it carries a $200 fine plus surcharges. The name of the dog owner was not released Tuesday.

“The individual in this case was extremely cooperative,” Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers were the lead investigators, and they ultimately issued the ticket.

“We consistently enforce our statutes and regulations,” Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said. “Dogs harassing wildlife and potentially harming wildlife is something we take seriously.”

The attack took place at the trailhead, where dogs are required to be on a leash.

Middledorf found the calf elk in some sagebrush about 15 yards south of the trailhead sign. The elk did not have any visible injuries.

Middledorf returned Friday morning and could not find the elk.

“Most likely that cow came back and picked up that calf that night,” Middledorf said.

Middledorf said he continues to be concerned about conflicts between dogs and wildlife.

“If that had been a moose calf with a cow moose, the outcome could have been much worse,” Middledorf said.

The majority of Blackmere Trail now is designated as off-leash seasonally, after Steamboat Springs City Council approved in October 2017 a one-year trial for dogs to run free on the popular Emerald Mountain trail as well as at Whistler Park.

Currently, leashes are required on Blackmere Drive up to Emerald Meadows.

Middledorf said he plans to continue to work with the city and partners like the Steamboat Digs Dogs group to address problems.

City Council is expected to review the one-year trial period.

“How can we minimize or eliminate some of these things from happening in the future?” Middledorf asked.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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