The Game and Fish Department has announced an emergency extended closure of Wyoming shed hunting until 6 a.m. May 15 on designated lands, excluding Teton County, in order to protect big game on winter ranges. The closure extension is due to the harsh winter season that has made big game animals vulnerable to human-caused disturbances, such as people gathering antlers.
The Need for the Wyoming Shed Hunting Emergency Closure Extension
According to Rick King, Game and Fish chief of wildlife, the unnecessary use of energy and undue stress on big game animals can increase their mortality rate. Therefore, postponing the shed antler collection in some areas of the state will help minimize stress, protect big game, and increase their chances of survival.
Exemptions from the Closure Extension
Teton County is not included in the closure extension because there are relatively few pronghorn and mule deer that winter there. Additionally, a large influx of antler hunters come to Teton County to collect antlers on U.S. Forest Service lands adjacent to the National Elk Refuge, requiring 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.
Wildlife Habitat Management Areas that Will Remain Closed
Some Game and Fish Commission-owned wildlife habitat management areas in the western and southern portions of the state will remain closed to human presence. These areas include Black Butte, Grey’s River, Fall Creek, Half Moon, Luke Lynch, Soda Lake, Forbes/Sheep Mountain, Jelm (closed to antler collection only), Red Rim-Daley (closed to antler collection only), Red Rim Grizzly (closed to antler collection only), and Pennock Mountain (closed to motor vehicle access and antler collection).
Penalties for Violating the Wyoming Shed Hunting Closure
Anyone found violating the closures or illegally gathering antlers may be cited. Collecting means to search for, locate, stockpile, or possess shed antlers and horns of big game animals on public land or attempting to do so 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.
Shed antler collecting is not the only winter activity with the potential to disturb wintering wildlife. Wildlife managers encourage everyone to be aware of wildlife during this vulnerable period and do their best to not disturb them. 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. For more information on Wyoming hunting opportunities, you can review our Wyoming overview.