Nevada wildlife officials might restrict shed antler hunting

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada wildlife officials are considering following Utah’s lead by imposing new restrictions on the gathering of antlers shed by deer and elk.

Utah’s action coupled with a spike in shed-antler hunting interest nationwide has spurred the enthusiasts into Nevada, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

“It’s like the world’s biggest Easter egg hunt,” said Tyler Turnipseed, Nevada’s chief game warden. “It’s kind of exploded in popularity in the last 10 years.”

The activity attracts everyone from hobbyists to commercial collectors hoping to discover a complete pair of elk antlers, which can sell for about $14 a pound.

The concern is that hunting for antlers can disturb deer and elk populations.

Nevada wildlife officials are considering a ban on the antler hunting from Jan. 1 through April 14, a time when deer and elk foraging activity is critical.

The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners planned to have an initial discussion about the proposal at its meeting on Friday, but any changes would have to be approved by the state Legislative Commission. The board passed a similar regulation in 2014, but it did not get final approval from the commission.

Officials in February enacted Utah’s temporary closure on collecting shed antlers. Utah’s ban was put in place because of the season’s severe winter and precipitation, said Mark Hadley, a Utah Division of Wildlife spokesman.

In addition to the ban, the Utah Division of Wildlife also has an online ethics course for hunters. In 2017, 19,878 hunters of shed antlers took the course.

The course is required to gather antlers between Feb. 1 and April 15. Hunters can complete the certificate and print it out and carry it with them while hunting.

“The purpose of this ethics course is to try to teach people how to gather shed antlers ethically without causing big game animals undue stress in the winter,” Hadley said.