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Colorado cracks down on illegal shed hunting

Colorado Elk

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Winter is a critical time for wildlife, which is why many states have limitations on when it’s legal to collect shed antlers. In Colorado, shed hunting is restricted Jan. 1 through April 30 with additional restrictions in the Gunnison Basin that run through May 15. This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials have been cracking down on illegal shed hunting, targeting those who are collecting sheds during the restricted period.

“Shed collecting has become extremely popular over the past decade because there is a significant potential for high profit,” Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie told the Herald Times. “That has led to a major increase in the number of collectors spreading out in areas where elk and deer are trying to find a little respite from winter. The last thing wildlife needs at this time of year are people speeding by on ATVs or snowmobiles, dogs running around off-leash and so on. It’s a very serious problem.”

While the restrictions don’t apply to private lands, that doesn’t mean CPW isn’t keeping an eye out for those who may violate trespassing laws. Several people have already been cited for shed hunting illegally on private land, resulting in these sheds being seized by officers. Those caught have to pay a $50 fine plus $18 surcharge for every illegal shed collected. Anyone caught with an illegal shed is also “assessed five points per shed against their hunting and fishing privileges” and 20 points means the loss of those privileges for up to five years, according to the Herald Times.

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“If wildlife is pressed once a day or every other day, we would not have as much concern,” said de Vergie. “But these animals are constantly pressured now, often running from perceived threats dozens of times per day. People may not see it happen right away but severely stressed animals and their offspring will starve to death when their fat stores are depleted.”

“We’ve done what we can to educate folks about the restrictions and why they are in place, including many face-to-face conversations,” continued de Vergie. “We hope that folks follow the rules and help us protect wildlife. If they don’t, we will enforce our laws to the fullest extent.”

While most areas are open for shed hunting April 30, there are still some restrictions for GMUs in Southwest Colorado, specifically GMUs 54, 55, 66, 67 and 551. These areas will not open to shed hunting until after May 15 – and collection and possession are forbidden within these GMUs “between legal sunset and 10 a.m. May 1 through May 15,” according to the Herald Times.

“We are not trying to keep people from collecting sheds,” said de Vergie. “We are just asking collectors to wait a bit, cut wildlife a break, wait until the restricted periods end then go out and get your sheds.”


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Montana B. - posted 11 months ago on 02-26-2019 03:34:03 pm

Banning the sale here in Colorado would only make it so out of state shed hunters come here gather the sheds and take them home to sell. Furthermore banning the sell here would only drive the price paid up making it an even more popular activity, you'd end up with all the subaru driving hippy vegans in the woods along with all the "flat brimmed hipsters". The only thing that really would prevent all that is federal ban on the selling of antlers. Do you really want the federal government getting involved? I sure don't! The next step after that would be an all out ban of collecting them followed by illegal to possess an antler. We need to report those out breaking the new regulations so that they don't impose more down the road. I agree that social media "stars" have led to a rapid increase in the popularity of the activity that has affected it in a negative way. Its no longer just a fun spring activity enjoyed by sportsman that wanna get out and see how the herd is and stretch their legs after being cooped up all winter anymore. That's why I have always done it.

stanley y. - posted 1 year ago on 02-21-2019 03:39:32 am

maybe now some of us hunters can find a shed or two

Justin F. - posted 1 year ago on 02-20-2019 06:18:26 pm

Seems like the Subaru driving crowds that are out on the trails with their mutts off leash every weekend are just as big of a problem, if not bigger, but we're not policing them.

Unrelated question - do these YouTubers have to get filming permits since they're "monitizing" their channels now?

Eddie K. - posted 1 year ago on 02-20-2019 10:52:04 am

Hugh M., you have a small, selfish, group of people who are collecting sheds for Instagram attention and profit to thank for this. We have to police our own instead of glorifying the online idiots.

Trey H. - posted 1 year ago on 02-19-2019 07:48:37 pm

I don't think they are trying to shut down public lands to all activities, but if by postponing the activities they can reduce the amount of pressure the animals are subjected to during a critical survival period, I would think hunter support would be strong. I like sheds too, but I like hunting opportunities more, and if missing out on some sheds means more opportunities in the fall, then so be it.

Adam S. - posted 1 year ago on 02-19-2019 09:22:01 am

I agree with eliminating or restricting the sale of sheds. Going shed hunting with your kids is one of the best ways to introduce them to the outdoors. In the east animal pressure is not as critical since winters are milder but it's become a race to grab the sheds before they even hit the ground. Trespassing is a huge issue in our area and most of the places I used to find sheds have dozens of sets of boot tracks even though the landowner hasn't given anyone permission.

Troy T. - posted 1 year ago on 02-19-2019 03:44:10 am
Delaware, OH

Seems like if you can't sell venison you shouldn't be able to sell sheds. That would at least get the profit motive out of it. As for those posting videos if they are profiting off it then they should have to get the associated permits or be fined. That should take care of the Gram. How many of the Instagram heroes are getting the proper permits for their t-shirt business?

Dan D. - posted 1 year ago on 02-18-2019 08:39:18 pm

I agree that these "shed laws" r hard to enforce..but so are poaching laws and hunting regulations. It is up to us as the responsible and ethical hunters to help the game angencies enforce these restrictions. WE can take responsibility for our public lands also and not leave everything up to the select few who have the job to enforce. Can be frustrating at times, but if we see the bigger picture that we r all just wanting healthier herds and better survival rates, i dont c how the game agencies have dropped the ball? R they to blame any more than we r for the stupidity of select individuals? Lets do all we can do in the field and as examples to others as responsible sportsman to help conserve the future for our children.

Erik S. - posted 1 year ago on 02-18-2019 08:40:07 pm

Hugh - they are targeting us because the hunting community today is plagued with flat brimmed hipsters who self film picking up sheds in cut off t-shirts and post all over social media. Its the dumbest thing in our world right now and its gained a shit ton of attention thanks to all of that douchery. We cant blame the Fish and Game, focus that energy on social media platforms and "famous" hunters/huntresses. I have tons of sheds and love them all an would never sell them. They should probably consider outlawing the sale of antlers in the future. Hell you cant even keep your own gull bladder of a black bear you hunted legally.

Hugh M. - posted 1 year ago on 02-18-2019 02:27:06 pm
Grand Junction

Bunch of BS! Are they just going to shut down the PUBLIC lands to all activities to protect the animals? Why is it they are only targeting the hunting community?? If there are people actually harassing the animals then do the job you are paid to do and catch them. Instead you do a blanket law to punish everyone. This is so ridiculous, I can take my dog out into the woods and as long as I don't pick up sheds no big deal, but if I pick up a shed I'm now harassing the animals. What a freaking joke! One more way to collect money I guess. I went on a hike last year with my wife in April. We were not shed hunting but when we came back to our vehicle wildlife officers were there and they questioned us and treated us like we were criminals all for enjoying PUBLIC lands! This is pure over reach on behalf of this government agency.

Jacob M. - posted 1 year ago on 02-18-2019 12:15:01 pm
Gunnyson, CO

Law or no law, people are still picking up sheds prior to May 1, leaving the honest guys like myself with the scraps. Swing and a miss on this one CPW.