CHEYENNE – New regulations on shed antler and horn collection are now in effect. The updated regulation expands the seasonal closure area to include expanded critical wintering habitat and enact a new opening time of 12 noon on public lands. The annual closure is to protect wintering big game. The new regulation and map of the boundaries is available online. The 2020 shed season opens May 1 at 12 noon.
Since 2009, Wyoming has prohibited the collection of shed antlers and horns on public land, such as U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission owned or administered lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin, from Jan. 1 through April 30 of each year.
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 land during the closed season. A violation of this regulation carries the same penalties as many other Game and Fish violations.
“In the winter, big game animals such as mule deer and elk use most of their energy just to survive,” said Rick King, chief game warden. “Limiting disturbance during this critical time of the year may help them hold on to more of their valuable reserves.”
In 2019, new legislation granted the Game and Fish Commission the authority to regulate shed gathering in expanded areas across the state.
“Extending the closed areas in southeast Wyoming will benefit mule deer on critical winter ranges in the Sheep Mountain and Platte Valley herds,” King said. “The Game and Fish Department has established mule deer initiatives for the Platte Valley and Sheep Mountain mule deer herds to address concerns with these mule deer populations. A lot of people recreate on winter ranges in these areas, and this new regulation can make a difference in reducing disturbance during a crucial time for mule deer and other big game animals.”
Any antlers or horns found in Wyoming that are 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 fee for the tag.
Game and Fish has closure information specific to the Laramie, Green River, Pinedale and Jackson regions online or by contacting those offices. To report shed antler or horn collection violations, call the STOP Poaching Hotline at 1-877-943-3847 (1-877-WGFD-TIP) or text keyword WGFD and message to TIP411 (847-411). Violations may also be reported online at the Game and Fish website.