Wyoming’s shed antler law has been in effect since 2009 and prohibits the collection of shed antlers and horns from January 1 through April 30 on public lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin. According to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission regulation, “collection” is defined as: to search for, locate, stockpile, or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land or attempt to search for, locate, stockpile, or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land. The purpose of the seasonal closure is to minimize harassment or disturbance of big game animals on their winter and spring ranges when animals are most vulnerable to stress and displacement to less productive habitats. Colorado and Utah have similar regulations.
As with other laws and regulations, enforcement and public cooperation are key to effectiveness. Jordan Kraft, South Pinedale Game Warden, encourages individuals who witness illegal shed antler hunting, or suspicious behavior, on big game winter ranges to report that activity in a timely manner. “It is critical for the public to gather as detailed information as possible about the incident including vehicle license plate numbers, vehicle descriptions, suspect descriptions, and the suspicious activity that strongly indicates illegal shed antler collection,” said Kraft.
If individuals suspect they are witnessing illegal shed antler hunting activity, they are urged to make an effort to confirm that suspicion and get as detailed of information as possible. “There may be a perception out there that the shed antler collection regulation is difficult to enforce, which can be true, but through effective law enforcement efforts and complete reports from the public, violators of the shed antler season closure are being brought to justice,” added Kraft.
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation should call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP. Tips are most helpful when they are reported promptly and include information such as the date, time, location and specific details about the suspected violation. Also important is a physical description of the suspected violator as well as a license plate number and description of any vehicles involved in the incident. Stop Poaching tips also can be reported on the Game and Fish website at:http://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx. Tips may result in a reward and informants can choose to remain anonymous.