Months-delayed antler gathering season begins

This file photo shows shed antlers in Utah. The Division of Wildlife Resources has lifted the previous ban on antler gathering, Utah, Jan. 20, 2017 | Photo by Phil Tuttle, Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The wait is over for shed antler collecting enthusiasts as the Division of Wildlife Resources has lifted the previously issued ban on gathering activities.

The season to gather shed antlers will last from April 1 through 15 for those who complete the state’s ethics course, a free 20 minute class available at the DWR website.

Division of Wildlife Resources photo shows a mule deer buck in Southern Utah, March 2, 2011 | Photo by Lynn Chamberlain courtesy of DWR, St. George News

The previous ban was enforced in order to eliminate a major source of human-caused disturbance and stress to deer and elk during the periods of winter months when they are most exposed and vulnerable.

“Not getting pushed by people looking for shed antlers allowed the animals to conserve their energy reserves during a winter that was severe in some parts of the state,” DWR Capt. Mitch Lane said in a news release. “Not having to use as much energy made the difference between life and death for some of these animals.”

DWR director Greg Sheehan signed the emergency closure order January 31, expanding the closure from 11 counties to the entire state’s 29 counties.

The unprecedented closure allows for just over two weeks of gathering; previous seasons lasted over two months from February 1 to April 15.

Since the statewide closure started conservation officers with the DWR have spent more than 2,300 hours patrolling and watching areas where big game animals congregate in the winter. They also responded to dozens of tips received on Utah’s Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline.

Although officials say most enthusiasts have obeyed the closure, as of March 21 a total of 26 people had received citations for violating the order. DWR conservation officers are also working on 35 cases with additional citations pending.

With the season underway again, those who complete the required ethics course must print the certificate of completion and carry it while gathering shed antlers to avoid citation.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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