New Wyoming shed hunting regulations in effect
Shed hunting is a great way to get outside during state-mandated quarantines while the coronavirus outbreak continues. But there are rules and regulations to abide by and Wyoming has just updated its regulations for shed antler and horn collection. The new law “expands the seasonal closure area to include critical wintering habitat” and changes the opening time to noon on public lands, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD).
“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.”
The state carefully monitors shed hunting and, since 2009, has forbidden the activity Jan. 1 through April 30 on BLM lands and other lands owned by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission as well as lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin, according to the agency. This helps animals that may still be recovering from severe winter conditions. The new 2019 legislation gives the Game and Fish Commission authority to “regulate shed gathering” across Wyoming.
“Extending the closed areas in southeast Wyoming will benefit mule deer on critical winter ranges in the Sheep Mountain and Platte Valley herds,” said King. “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.”
If you are out shed hunting and find antlers or horns still attached to the skull, you are required to contact a game warden before moving the head from the field. That find will require an Interstate Game Tag to be attached by a WGFD officer. The tag costs $8. Remember: it is illegal to shed hunt during the closed season and anyone who violates this can be charged with a wildlife crime.
To view the new regulation, click here. The map of boundaries is also online. If you are interested in closure information around the Laramie, Green River, Pinedale and Jackson areas, contact the local WDFG office.
Shed season opens May 1 at noon. Good luck!