CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has announced an emergency extended closure of the shed antler and horn hunting regulation to protect big game on winter ranges. The emergency regulation extends the current closure until 6 a.m. May 15 on designated lands, excluding Teton County.
“Big game animals have experienced a tough winter and are highly vulnerable to human-caused disturbances, such as being moved around by people on the landscape gathering antlers,” said Rick King, Game and Fish chief of wildlife. “The unnecessary use of energy and undue stress can increase mortality. Postponing the shed antler collection in some areas of the state will help minimize stress, protect big game and increase their chance of survival.”
Teton County is not included in the closure extension. The primary species affected by the harsh winter in western Wyoming are pronghorn and mule deer and there are relatively few pronghorn and mule deer that winter in Teton County. Also, the large influx of antler hunters who come to Teton County to collect antlers on U.S. Forest Service lands adjacent to the National Elk Refuge requires a coordinated interagency effort to manage. After a meeting of all the partner agencies, it was decided to move forward with the standard opening at 6 a.m. on May 1 for Teton County.
Some Game and Fish Commission-owned wildlife habitat management areas in the western and southern portions of the state will also remain closed to human presence.
The opening of the following wildlife habitat management areas will be postponed until 6 a.m. May 15:
- Black Butte, near Pinedale
- Grey’s River, near Alpine
- Fall Creek, near Pinedale
- Half Moon, near Pinedale
- Luke Lynch, near Pinedale
- Soda Lake, near Pinedale
- Forbes/Sheep Mountain, near Laramie
- Jelm, near Laramie (Closed to antler collection only.)
- Red Rim-Daley, near Rawlins (Closed to antler collection only.)
- Red Rim Grizzly, near Baggs (Closed to antler collection only.)
- Pennock Mountain, near Saratoga (Closed to motor vehicle access and antler collection.)
For a complete list of open and closure dates for wildlife habitat management and public access areas across the state, visit the Game and Fish website.
“Shed antler collecting is not the only winter activity with the potential to disturb wintering wildlife. We encourage everyone to be aware of wildlife during this vulnerable period and do their best to not disturb them,” King said.
Wildlife managers have been actively monitoring big game animals and many remain on their winter ranges.
“We know shed hunting is a popular activity for many families in Wyoming, and we appreciate everyone’s understanding, patience and cooperation,” said Brian Nesvik, Game and Fish director. “These efforts will help reduce stress on Wyoming’s big game animals and increase their chances of surviving.”
Collect means 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 or state land during the closed season. A violation of this regulation carries the same potential penalties, including fines, forfeiture of seized shed antlers and horns and loss of hunting and fishing privileges, as many other Game and Fish violations.
Hunters can stay informed on the shed antler hunting postponement, upcoming hunting season and winter impacts by signing up for the Game and Fish Hunting Update.