Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Press Release
Late winter and early spring is a tough time for elk, moose and especially deer in Utah. In fact, it’s the worst time of the year for the animals.
In the winter, deep snow makes it hard for deer to move and find food. Cold temperatures sap the deers’ strength. By the time winter ends, deer are the weakest they will be all year.
Winter is also the time of year when male deer, elk and moose shed their antlers. The animals will be without antlers until spring, when they will start to grow a new set.
Gathering antlers that drop off the heads of deer, elk and moose is an activity that has grown in popularity across the country, including in Utah. The challenge with shed-antler gathering is that it happens during the worst time of the year for the animals and the habitat the animals rely on in the winter.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Law Enforcement Section Chief Tony Wood says by the time winter ends, the animals are stressed. Also, the habitat the animals rely on in the winter is wet. “Because it’s wet, it can be easily damaged,” he said. “Once the habitat is damaged, it can take years for it to recover.”
Fortunately, Wood says it can still fun gathering shed antlers without stressing the animals and damaging their habitat. “A free course that’s available on our website will show you how,” he says.
The Antler Gathering Ethics course is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler. The course must be completed in order to gather shed antlers in Utah between now and April 15.
After finishing the course, make sure to print the certificate of completion before gathering antlers. “And make sure you carry your certificate with you,” Wood advises. “You must have your certificate with you while you’re gathering shed antlers.”
Shed hunters with young children must complete the course, but the kids are not required to become certified. Rather, the adult’s certificate will cover the children too.
Wood says by completing the course, shed hunters may gather antlers across Utah, with only one exception. “Because wildlife are so vulnerable this time of the year, many of the state’s wildlife management areas are closed in the winter and spring to protect the animals,” he explained.
In order to gather shed antlers between now and April 15, the course must be completed. If gathering antlers after April 15, course completion is not required.
To take the online course, visit wildlife.utah.gov/shedantler.