If you’re itching to get out and collect antlers that fell off the heads of deer, elk and moose this winter, you must wait until April 1 to scratch that itch in Utah.
These illegally collected shed antlers were found after a DWR officer followed a violator’s footprints in the snow. If you gather shed antlers before the gathering season reopens on April 1, you could face a fine of up to $1,000.
Also, if you want to gather antlers between April 1 and April 15, you must complete the state’s antler gathering ethics course first. The free course takes about 20 minutes to complete. It’s available at wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.
After completing the course, you must print your certificate of completion and carry it with you while you’re gathering shed antlers. If you don’t, you could receive a citation.
Enforcing the closure
Since the statewide closure started Feb. 3, conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources have spent more than 2,300 hours patrolling and watching areas where big game animals congregate in the winter. They’ve also responded to dozens of tips received on Utah’s Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline. And the officers aren’t done. They’ll continue to enforce the closure until it ends on April 1.
DWR Captain Mitch Lane says most of Utah’s shed antler enthusiasts have obeyed the closure. And that’s helped big game animals — especially deer — tremendously.
“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,” he says. “Not having to use as much energy made the difference between life and death for some of these animals.”
As of March 21, a total of 26 people had received citations for violating the closure. DWR conservation officers are also working on 35 cases, so additional citations might be coming.
“We know people are anxious to get out and gather antlers,” Lane says, “but you can’t gather them until April 1.”
If you’re in the back country before the closure ends on April 1, and you see someone gathering shed antlers, please call the UTiP hotline at 1-800-662-3337 (DEER). The line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.