Shed antler hunting in Northwest Colorado opens Sunday | CraigDailyPress.com

Shed antler hunting in Northwest Colorado opens Sunday

Collecting antlers shed by big game has become a popular and profitable pursuit. Colorado Parks and Wildlife placed restrictions on hunting shed antlers in Northwest Colorado this spring through April 15.

— As hunting restrictions for shed antlers are lifted, agencies provide tips to keep the activity ethical.

"It's a great activity and we want to encourage families to do it. We just want to do it in a sensible manner and respecting the land," said Dario Archuleta, Bureau of Land Management's Little Snake Field Office outdoor recreation planner.

Shed antler hunting was restricted March 3 through Saturday in game management units 1, 2, 3, 10, 11, 21 and 201 in Northwest Colorado to protect wildlife that endured a severe winter.

"We were pleased with the overall compliance with the regulation," said Mike Porras, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Region Public Information Officer. "We also heard from locals who were pleased with the restrictions."

Once restrictions are lifted, shed antler hunters are reminded to use existing routes, to gain permission before entering private land and to be mindful of regulations in other areas.

"It is illegal to travel cross-country or off existing roads in a motor vehicle including, ATVs and UTVs, while collecting antlers on BLM lands in the Little Snake Field Office," said BLM Little Snake Field Manager Bruce Sillitoe. "Please avoid getting close enough to disturb deer and elk, and keep motorized vehicles on legal roads."

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A citation for riding an ATV off existing roads or in a closed area can result in a $250 fine. Harassing wildlife may result in a $200 fine.

"We are having trouble on private lands. We get calls all the time. It's important to be sure to know where you are at," Archuleta said.

He recommends visiting the BLM office for the latest maps or using GPS, "to ensure that you are driving on legal routes."

Federal laws make it illegal to shed hunt in Dinosaur National Monument or at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge as collecting animal parts, including antlers can result in fines up to $5,000 and six months in prison.

"More important for us, it's interesting for visitors to happen upon … also antlers contain a lot of nutrients, particularly calcium that is consumed by many of the small animals in the monument," said Dan Johnson, Dinosaur National Monument chief of interpretation, education and visitor services.

For those hunting antlers further afield, between March 15 and May 15, collecting is allowed only between 10 a.m. through sunset in game management units 25, 26, 35, 36, 43, 44, 47, 444 and 471.

For more information about shed collection restrictions, contact CPW's Meeker office at 970-878-6090.

CPW urges anyone that observes illegal activity to call the Meeker office, or to remain anonymous, contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available for information that leads to a citation.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.