PINEDALE – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds antler hunters there is a season in place which 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.
In addition, many big game winter ranges in both Teton and Sublette counties have further restrictions to either human presence or motor vehicles during the winter months. However, the shed antler regulation does apply to all other federal or public lands not covered under such winter range closures.
Similarly, Wildlife Habitat Management Areas (WHMAs) managed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in the Jackson and Pinedale Regions are closed to human presence December 1 through April 30. For more information on Game & Fish WHMAs, you may visit the website at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Public-Access/WHMA
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. This winter has been particularly hard on many big game herds in western Wyoming, so it is especially important that these animals not have to endure any unnecessary stress at this most critical time of year.
In addition, any antlers or horns found in Wyoming that are still attached to the skull need to be tagged with an Interstate Game Tag by a Wyoming Game and Fish law enforcement officer. Individuals need to contact a game warden prior to removing the head from the field. There is an $8.00 fee for the tag.
Many animals are now beginning their annual migration toward their summer ranges. Many animals will be crossing roadways, so motorists are asked to slow down and keep a close watch for animals, especially during dawn and dusk hours. Additionally, landowners are asked to open any gates they can to make it easier for animals to move across the landscape.
With the continued increase in popularity for shed antler hunting, and a corresponding increase in public complaints of violations, Wyoming Game and Fish wardens continues to increase enforcement efforts to make sure everyone is playing by the rules. Each winter, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department details additional game wardens from across the state to increase the enforcement presence on key winter ranges, both to deter the poaching of big game during early winter and enforce the antler hunting regulation after animals have shed their antlers.
Each winter, antler hunting citations are issued to individuals who violate shed antler regulations. “We hope these citations and the resulting sentences send a strong message that we are taking these violations seriously,” said Pinedale Wildlife Supervisor John Lund.
As with other laws and regulations, enforcement and public cooperation are key to effectiveness. Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation may 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 can also be reported online at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/law-enforcement/stop-poaching . Tips may result in a reward and informants can choose to remain anonymous.