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Wyoming men charged with antler poaching

Antler poachers

Photo credit: Wyoming Game and Fish

Shed hunting can be a fun hobby that many participate in to get outside during the off-season. However, there’s a reason why the shed hunting is not allowed Jan. 1 through April 30: to help animals survive the winter by limiting activities that take place on winter ranges and can cause stress to animals. Last April of 2018, two men decided to ignore the shed hunting parameters and collected about 70 pounds of elk antlers near the Hoback Rim north of Pinedale, Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD). Fortunately, WGFD game wardens caught Matthew Nelson and Jason Reidel when they were enroute to their vehicle and the two were apprehended.

According to the agency, Nelson and Reidel had been using snowmobiles and snowshoes to collect the shed antlers where bull elk had been wintering. Not only were they collecting antlers during the closed time period, but they were also trespassing on private land.

Elk sheds

Photo credit: Wyoming Game and Fish

Both were found guilty and fined $1,550 each. They also lost their hunting privileges in Wyoming and the other 47 states that honor the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact for the next two years. All of the antlers were seized and “returned to the field upon closure of the case,” according to WGFD.

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“These were intentional, planned violations and the consequences were a result of those violations,” said Big Piney Game Warden Adam Hymas. “Hopefully the result of these cases will help deter other violators. We enforce this regulation just as we would any other wildlife regulation and encourage all sportsmen to continue to be vigilant and report any violations they are aware of.”

9 Comments

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Bart L. - posted 4 months ago on 01-02-2019 05:51:37 pm
goHUNT INSIDER

Al I would agree with you, there has to be an motivation to limit a single group. I wouldn’t believe she’d hunters would be so abundant that they would harass wild life. I don’t have any facts supporting that belief and if someone can support the other belief I would certainly be interested in hearing it.

The only reason this single group is regulated is because the Fish and Game have no way of regulating the other activities. The Fish and Game regulates the activities they can regulate including shed hunting and hunting. It is no different from the Fish and Game’s regulations around non-resident hunters and Wilderness Areas. A non-resident can hike and fish all they want in a Wilderness area even during hunting season, but are restricted access to hunt as soon as they strap a gun to their back. This has nothing to do with non-resident safety and has everything to do with money.

Al C. - posted 4 months ago on 01-02-2019 07:25:18 am

Travis your experience with people chasing wildlife has always been illegal and covered under harassing wildlife violations. There is no indication you reported.

Shed seasons are a controversial topic where only one specific user group is regulated where as hikers, skiers, snowmobilers, yote hunters, cat hunters, and snowshoers are not regulated except for wildlife areas with full closures. Meanwhile, a poor animal (scarcasm)that suffers greatly from a human walking by looking for sheds is apparently not detrimentally effected by 24/7 predation found in nature not so often witnessed or thought about. How has that user group become the bane of wildlife. I suspect money. If someone is making money doing something in nature it is no longer pure life those other user groups.

tavisrogers
Tavis R. - posted 4 months ago on 12-31-2018 06:49:10 am
Oak Creek, Colorado
goHUNT INSIDER

I am glad to see State Game and Fish Departments finally taking action on early bird shed hunting. These guys are pushing the animals at the time of the year when they are at their weakest to get the antlers the earliest.

After seeing guys chase bucks with snow machines in deep snow in Colorado several years ago just to get them to drop their antlers and, in some cases pushing an exhausted buck till he just stopped and then knocking the antlers off it is sickening. Thankfully, Colorado has finally imposed a closed season for shed hunting and I hope that they hit guys like that with everything they can!

I thought the fines were too light! $1,550 is nothing! They should have been hit with pretty hefty fines for trespassing and for illegally picking up shed antlers in the off season. It does not sound like their vehicles were confiscated but they should have been. Heck, the fines should have been more along the lines of $20,000 each and confiscation of the snow machines and pickup truck.

How many dead elk and deer do these guys leave behind due to pushing them when they are at their weakest? Why should that be any different than someone shooting those animals and leaving them to rot?

Quintin C. - posted 4 months ago on 12-30-2018 11:57:32 pm

Seems like a harsh punishment for collecting shed antlers, it would be nice if the article mentioned if these are repeat offenders or if it was the first offense.

Gary H. - posted 4 months ago on 12-28-2018 04:04:09 am
goHUNT INSIDER

"absorbed into the department for departmental use. "

Pretty standard. lol

There needs to be public auctions held with public notice.

Not these little private "Good boys club" department only yard-sales...

Think of the money it would raise for public access to sportsmen!

SETH D. - posted 4 months ago on 12-27-2018 10:45:03 pm
Sunny New Mexico
goHUNT INSIDER

I used to be a Burough Police Officer in Alaska (similar to a Deputy Sheriff, except our Burough was the size of Minnesota), auctions for confiscated equipment were rarely ever advertised. Firearms used in a murder are usually destroyed, and vehicles/equipment seized usually got absorbed into the department for departmental use.

My father is a retired LEO, every agency he worked for was the same on auctions, it was usually only known to the cops in the agency.

This was in the days before insta-check. So they did it to keep guns off the street.

SETH D. - posted 4 months ago on 12-27-2018 10:45:02 pm
Sunny New Mexico
goHUNT INSIDER

I used to be a Burough Police Officer in Alaska (similar to a Deputy Sheriff, except our Burough was the size of Minnesota), auctions for confiscated equipment were rarely ever advertised. Firearms used in a murder are usually destroyed, and vehicles/equipment seized usually got absorbed into the department for departmental use.

My father is a retired LEO, every agency he worked for was the same on auctions, it was usually only known to the cops in the agency.

This was in the days before insta-check. So they did it to keep guns off the street.

Erik A. - posted 4 months ago on 12-27-2018 07:40:46 am
Spokane Valley, WA
goHUNT INSIDER

Gary, Minnesota has just that, Auctions every once in a while with confiscated bows, firearms, tackle, and even atv and vehicles. There may be something similar in your state, but sometimes getting the message out about them does not happen that well.

Gary H. - posted 4 months ago on 12-27-2018 07:09:22 am
goHUNT INSIDER

The snowmobiles and snowshoes should be confiscated and sold at auction to provide more walk in hunting opportunities to law abiding sportsmen. I dont understand why states are not doing this...sort of a "Poachers Gear E-bay" if you will...

Guns/Bows/ATV's/Snowmobiles etc etc. at discount prices. Sold to the highest bidder. Boom. Funding at its finest.