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BOISE -- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is trying to protect big game in wildlife management areas by reminding people to keep their dogs on a leash.

Fish and Game is putting up more signs and patrolling the area north of Warm Springs Avenue in the Council Springs Road, Highland Valley Road and Deer Creek Road Areas.

The 37,000 acres is a critical place for mule deer, elk, pronghorn and their young to survive the end of winter and early spring.

Having people come up the trails during that critical time really disturbs those animals and makes those animals move out of an area that they may be resting in, and actually using up that fat reserve that would get them through the next couple weeks, said Krista Mueller, wildlife habitat biologist for the Boise River Wildlife Management Area.

There is a four-year-old law that says dogs have to be on a leash in wildlife management areas.

During a recent check, officials found 80 percent of people were violating the leash law in just a two-hour period.

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