Utah DWR temporarily bans ‘shed hunting’ antlers due to stress on wildlife population

Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

UTAH, Feb. 7, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced a statewide emergency closure to “shed hunting” Tuesday in an effort to help wintering big game, particularly deer populations.

The antler gathering restrictions are effective statewide now through April 30, 2023. The order includes both private and public lands.

DWR biologists have been monitoring the condition of the deer — as well as snow depths and winter temperatures — across Utah since early December, the Utah DWR statement says. These monitoring efforts include body condition and health assessments conducted during the big game captures that take place each December.

Data collected shows that the extreme cold and increased snowpack across the state are starting to impact mule deer fawn survival rates, and may negatively impact the ability of the adult deer to survive the winter.

Shed antlers Photo Brent Stettler Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

“In these types of conditions, big game animals are weakened and highly vulnerable to repeated human-caused disturbances,” says J. Shirley, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director, in the prepared statement.

“The unnecessary expenditure of energy and stress associated with disturbance — like being repeatedly followed by someone gathering shed antlers — may significantly decrease the survival rates of big game animals, particularly deer,  this winter…. We encourage everyone to be aware of wildlife during this vulnerable period and do their best to not disturb them.”

The temporary restrictions also apply to looking for horns and antlers still attached to the skull plate of a deceased animal, in addition to naturally shed antlers.

The last time “shed hunting” was prohibited in Utah was 2017.

DWR conservation officers will be conducting additional patrols this winter to enforce the antler gathering restrictions and to ensure that people aren’t disturbing wintering wildlife. Violators may be cited.

The DWR also implemented emergency deer feeding in parts of Rich, Summit and Cache counties, as additional efforts to help wintering big game. DWR biologists will continue monitoring winter conditions and the condition of the deer across Utah and may feed deer in additional locations, if emergency feeding criteria are met. However, deer feeding will not happen in areas where chronic wasting disease has been found.

Winter is the toughest time of year for mule deer in Utah Deep snow makes it harder to find food And prolonged cold weather can sap a deers strength Photo DWRMark Hadley


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