Jackson – Antler hunting continues to gain in popularity and each year there are some who can’t wait until the May 1 season opener for western Wyoming. This year, South Jackson Game Warden Kyle Lash caught a handful of antler poachers starting early and their sentences will hopefully discourage others from doing the same.
Robert Halligan, 44, of Bliss, Idaho, got busted for picking up antlers on March 25, and again on March 27, south of Jackson. Appearing in court on May 10, Halligan pled guilty and was sentenced to ten days in jail, $420 in fines and one year loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Wyoming and 48 other states involved in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Halligan had also been busted for 17 wildlife-related violations in the state of Idaho over the past year.
A second case occured in the same area a couple weeks later on the night of April 11 when an individual dropped off two guys who wanted to get a jump on other antler hunters. Danny Durante of Thayne pled guilty and was sentnced to $1720 in fines and loss of hunting and fishing privileges for two years. James “Stu” Rollman, of Alpine, had to pay $805 in fines and lost his hunting and fishing privileges for one year. The driver of the car also received a $435 fine for their part in the antler poaching spree.
“I would like to thank the judge and the prosecuting attorneys for all their help,” said Warden Lash to the Jackson Hole Daily newspaper. “Having heavy fines with stiff penalties like the loss of hunting and fishing privileges — and even jail time for folks that have had priors — hopefully that will deter people from poaching shed antlers.”
Warden Lash currently has a third case pending a court appearance that had to be postponed until June 27. The individual has been cited for violation of the antler hunting regulation and the seasonal closure on the South Park Wildlife Habitat Managment Area south of Jackson.
The Wyoming antler hunting regulation prohibits the gathering of horns or shed antlers from January 1 through April 30 on public lands west of the Continental Divide in Wyoming. This regulation has been in effect since 2009 and includes all state-owned lands as well as federal lands. 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.
Wyoming Game and Fish wardens reported 28 total violations of the antler collection regulation in 2018 alone. These violations resulted in 17 citations and 11 written warnings. There have also been several additional cases where people have been caught trespassing on private lands to collect antlers.