AFTON (WNE) — New regulations on shed antler and horn collection are now in effect. The updated regulation expands the seasonal closure area to include expanded critical wintering habitat and enact a new opening time of 12 noon on public lands. The annual closure is to protect wintering big game. The new regulation and map of the boundaries is available online. The 2020 shed season opens May 1 at 12 noon.

Since 2009, Wyoming has prohibited the collection of shed antlers and horns on public land, such as U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands and Wyoming Game and Fish Commission owned or administered lands west of the Continental Divide, excluding the Great Divide Basin, from Jan. 1 through April 30 of each year.

“In the winter, big game animals such as mule deer and elk use most of their energy just to survive,” said Rick King, chief game warden. “Limiting disturbance during this critical time of the year may help them hold on to more of their valuable reserves.”

In 2019, new legislation granted the Game and Fish Commission the authority to regulate shed gathering in expanded areas across the state.

“Extending the closed areas in southeast Wyoming will benefit mule deer on critical winter ranges in the Sheep Mountain and Platte Valley herds,” King said.

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