From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 25 - September 19, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Antler season moves forward

by Cat Urbigkit

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is pushing forward with a proposal to institute an antler-hunting season.

The proposed regulation governs the hunting of antlers of deer, elk and moose.

The proposal establishes antler-hunting seasons, with closures from Jan. 1 to May 1 for deer hunt areas 141 (New Fork), 142 (Piney/Horse Creek), 143 (South Piney) and 162 (Water Dog Lakes). The closure would be from Jan. 1 to April 1 for hunt areas 130 (Big Sandy), 138 (Boulder), 139 (Pinedale) and 140 (New Fork). Private lands within these hunt areas are not closed to antler hunting under the regulation.

According to the proposal, "Antlers of deer, elk or moose that have been naturally shed in Wyoming may be taken year around," except for during the closed periods listed above, as well as in several other hunt areas around the state, including areas 78, 80, 81, 134, 135 and 168.

"In areas closed to antler hunting, no person shall take naturally shed antlers from any deer, elk or moose or any dead deer, elk or moose," the proposal states. Take is defined as "to hunt, pursue, find, collect or search for antlers or attempt to hunt, pursue, possess, find, collect, or search for antlers."

The taking of antlers or any parts of any dead deer, elk or moose in the field in a hunt area closed to antler hunting shall be prima facie evidence of a violation of the regulation, according to the proposal.

"Department personnel and elk feeders under contract with the department may take antlers on department elk feedgrounds during the closed season ... only when the taking of such antlers are part of their official duties," the regulation states. Such antlers are to be disposed of in accordance with department policy, according to the proposal.

The creation of an antler-hunting season is something WG&F department personnel have advocated increasingly in recent years as a way to reduce the harassment of big game animals on their winter ranges. The idea was openly discussed at a WG&F Commission meeting, but the ensuing debate led the commission to create a "Wyoming Wildlife Harassment Committee" last year to examine the issue further and provide a recommendation to the commission. One of the committee's recommendations was to create the antler-hunting season. The proposed regulation will be on the WG&F Commission's December meeting agenda. If approved by the commission, the regulation could be implemented this winter.

The state wildlife agency is currently accepting public comment on the proposed regulation and public meetings on the proposal will be held at a later date.

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