Shed hunting is a popular off-season activity, but, depending on how severe the winter has been, can cause stress to animals just trying to survive. In most parts of the West, shed hunting is not permitted between Jan. 1 and April 30 (with some limitations). In Wyoming, that’s the current shed hunting season; however, there are two new bills that would allow Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGDFD) officials “more flexibility to manage the collecting of antlers,” Wyoming Public Radio reports.
"We get people on both sides," said Todd Graham, WGFD’s Green River area wildlife manager. "On easier winters, some people want us to open the season earlier and then on harder winters, sometimes it would be nice to keep the antler season closed a little longer into May to prevent further stress on those big game animals."
However, bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer feel the intrusion of shed hunters, especially when they are trying hard to survive severe weather and high snowpack. If WGFD could determine the health of the herds prior to the start of the shed hunting season, it could benefit the overall health of these herds and limit humans from critical winter ranges.
"Any additional stressors on them including people on those winter ranges looking for antlers is just one of those additional stressors that can push them over the edge and actually ultimately cause their demise," Graham told Wyoming Public Radio.
The bills are currently in the Wyoming House for consideration. Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further information.