New shed antler rules took effect February 1
On Feb. 1, the collection of antlers shed by deer, elk and moose became prohibited in Northern Utah. Antler collection on both public and private lands is now closed from February through April.
A growing interest in gathering antlers shed in the winter by deer, elk, and moose has led to increasing numbers of "shed hunters" spending time on ranges that animals use in the winter.
The very presence of people on these areas in the winter can have unintended consequences on big game animals. For example, the animals have to use their energy to avoid people. In some cases, antler hunters have intentionally chased animals to try and make their antlers fall off.
Irresponsible use of off-highway vehicles in these areas can also damage habitat that is critical to big game animals. The melting snows in late winter and early spring make the soils moist. Taking OHVs into these areas can cause increased erosion and can damage important plants.
Winter is usually the most treacherous time of the year for mule deer fawns. Cold temperatures, deep snow and limited food can lead to the deaths of many fawns. Unnecessary disturbance by people just adds to the problem. Disturbance by people causes deer to flee and use their precious energy reserves. The deer need these energy reserves to make it through the winter.
Even under the best winter conditions, some fawns will die, so it's important not to disturb deer during this critical time of year.
A committee comprised of sportsmen, people from the agricultural community, and state and federal wildlife officials have determined that helping more fawns survive the winter is one of the first steps to increasing deer populations in northern Utah. Based on the group's recommendations, all five of Utah's Regional Advisory Councils and the Utah Wildlife Board voted to restrict the collection of shed antlers in Northern Utah this year. The collection of shed antlers is allowed from May 1, 2007 through Jan. 31, 2008.
When the season opens on May 1, citizens should please remember that they must obey all state and federal off-road vehicle rules. In addition those in the outdoors must also respect the rights of private property owners.
Also remember that it's illegal to pick up antlers or horns that are still attached to the skull plate of a dead animal.