Changes to antler hunting rules forthcoming
Steamboat Springs — The rules are changing for those who venture into the woods to hunt for antlers.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, male ungulates shed their antlers each year by mid- to late-winter. The antlers are used by the animals for display and battles with competitors during the fall mating season.
For some, collecting the shed antlers becomes an annual tradition, and a source of income. The antlers can go for big bucks.
The antlers can be used to make furniture, knife handles and a variety of other things.
Parks and Wildlife has grown concerned about the impact shed antler hunters have on the winter range, where animals are challenged with making it through the winter. Loud all-terrain vehicles are sometimes used, as well as dogs that are trained to find antlers. Those dogs can stress or even injure the animals.
“That’s just about the worst thing that can happen to them,” Glenwood Springs Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will said in a news release. “Any unnecessary movement during the cold weather months causes big game to use up their fat stores very quickly and there’s little chance of replenishing it. This situation leads to their death, or the deaths of their unborn calves and fawns due to poor body condition.”
According to game managers, even searching for antlers on foot or horseback can create stressful conditions for wildlife.
The new rules impact when hunters are allowed to look for shed antlers, and they affect portions of Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield, and Routt counties.
The rules go into effect March 1.
No shed antler hunting will be allowed from March 1 to 14.
From March 15 to May 15, shed antler hunting will only be allowed between 10 a.m. and sunset. People can begin collecting the following day at 10 a.m.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, no antler shed hunting will be allowed before March 15.
The new rules only impact the southwest corner of Routt County.
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