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Shed Antler Season is rapidly approaching in Wyoming, here’s what you need to know

JACKSON, Wyoming (KIFI)—Starting May 1st, changes to Wyoming's Shed Antler Season will be enforced. The changes will prevent people who aren't residents of the Cowboy State from rushing into the Bridger-Teton Forest to try and find the antlers shed by the species that make up the deer family.

"It's to give the advantage to the residents that live here and then still offer that opportunity a little bit later to non-residents, and you know, and require that non-residents have a conservation stamp to participate in the antler collection season in Wyoming," said Brad Hovinga, the Regional Wildlife Supervisor for Wyoming Game and Fish in the Jackson region.

Like a regular hunting season, where tags are more expensive if you are a non-resident, the goal is to similarly give shed hunters in Wyoming an advantage over those coming to the state.

"At least in the western states in the United States they tend to offer some advantages to being a resident of that state, over folks that are non resident mostly and price differential and licensing.
But in this particular situation, it's the start dates for the Antler collection opener," Hovinga said.

Enforcement of this will be similar to when people are hunting in the forest. Game Wardens will check in on people to ensure they follow the rules, but enforcement gets going much sooner than that.

"Trying to catch all those that are there attempting to get a jump start on season and cheat by getting out there early. So that's where the most of our law enforcement effort goes into after that. And similar to any other hunting season, there are game wardens. We're checking IDs and licenses or whatever to ensure that folks meet the requirements of being a resident when contacted. And then even after that, May 8th open or for nonresidents to ensure that nonresident amber collectors are in compliance with the Conservation Stamp Regulation rule," Hovinga said.

While Game and Fish checkpoints may be present, Hovinga says Wardens will actually spend more time in the field trying to make sure everyone is doing everything the right way.

"The most part our wardens are horseback or on foot in the field with with the folks that are collecting and contacting them there," Hovinga said.

Hovinga says this is the first year of the new change coming to the antler collection season, which leads to many unknowns about the season in 2024.

"Honestly, we don't really know what to expect. This is the first year, so we don't know what our level of compliance will be. So our wardens will be anxious to get out there, try to ensure that everybody is following the law. And we hope to it does reduce the number of people on the landscape and the people are in compliance," Hovinga said.

He continued, "And then, we have a significant amount of nonresident hunters that would in the past started on that first opening day, too. So if folks are complying with the rules and regulations, there's a good chance it will lower that level of people on the landscape."

Animal harassment is not a major concern for Game and Fish after May 1st, as many of the animals have moved on from their winter ranges.

Hovinga said bears should be a concern for any shed hunter. "It tends to put bears and people in the same place at the same time. And so keep those things in mind at the bear wear and make sure you have pepper spray, you know, and to be able to protect yourself if you have a sudden encounter with a grizzly bear on the landscape," Hovinga said.

He reminds us to have bear spray readily available in case of a bear encounter.

Wyoming residents will be able to begin collecting shed antlers at 6 a.m., May 1st.

Non-residents can start their collecting a week later on May 8th.

Article Topic Follows: Wyoming

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8.


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