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Finally an equitable balance between resident and non resident shed hunting access.

PrairieHunter

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Laramie, WY

A regulation change picking up momentum in the statehouse would give Wyoming residents first dibs on the elk, deer and moose antlers waiting for the taking on public land each spring.
Currently, shed hunting is not a licensed activity. And the Wyoming attorney general’s office has indicated the Wyoming Game and Fish Department “likely” lacks the authority to restrict outsiders under current state statute. Lawmakers are pursuing a remedy for that, however.
House Bill 123 – Collection of antler or horns by residents and nonresidents encountered no opposition in its first test during the legislative process, passing through the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee on a 8-0 vote. Freshman Rep. Ryan Berger (R-Evanston) brought the bill, and it’s supported by the speaker of the House, Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), who explained the legislation’s provenance while testifying Thursday. To protect wintering wildlife the Wyoming Legislature changed the law back in 2009 to prohibit shed hunting west of the Continental Divide between Dec. 1 and May 1. As a result thousands of out-of-staters mob the landscape all at once when the restriction lifts.
“What I think this will do,” Sommers said, “it’ll ease that rush of people.”
Speaker-Sommers-20.jpg

Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), speaker of the House for the Wyoming Legislature’s 2023 general session.
A key provision of HB 123 is that residents would enjoy a three-day head start before non-residents are allowed to hunt for horns. Multiple representatives suggested in committee there would still be a “second wave” of non-residents come May 4.
Anecdotally, the majority of people sweeping the landscape every shed hunting opener hail from out of state. The springtime sprint into the hills for valuable elkhorn, which can fetch nearly $20 a pound, has caused routine chaos, a major pulse of illegal activity and even tragedy, both on the opening day and well beforehand.
“I think it’s going to be good for wildlife and certainly good for resident horn hunters who complain to me every year about the continuing increase of numbers of non-resident horn hunters,” Sommers said of the proposed rule change.
So far, HB 123 has encountered no resistance.
Josh Metten, testifying on behalf of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said the bill has launched a “great conversation” about managing shed hunting. He even floated the idea of assessing fees for resident and non-residents.

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Wyoming Wildlife Federation employee Jessi Johnson, lobbying the committee, deployed the word “love” to describe her feelings about starting to address the mad May 1 dash for shed antlers.
The rush for antlers “is a problem,” Johnson said. “It’s a moneymaker. People are making $60,000 a year on the collection of shed antlers.”
If HB 123 becomes law, the statute change would give the Wyoming Game and Fish Department ownership over shed antlers on public land. That’s important, Sommers said, because currently the state’s shed hunting seasonal restrictions are on legally “shaky ground.”
Rick-King.jpg

Rick King, chief warden for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, listens to a legislative committee meeting in the Wyoming Capitol in January 2023 (Mike Koshmrl/WyoFile)
Game and Fish Chief Warden Rick King didn’t take a position on the proposed regulation change, but he did express concerns about further straining Wyoming’s already depleted warden corps by having to check for residency. He cited the failed experiment from 2020, when the state pushed the shed season opener from midnight to noon to make enforcement easier — only to learn the rule change had the opposite effect.
Absent official shed hunting licenses, King said his wardens will need some mechanism to be able to distinguish between residents and non-residents.
Sommers perceived there was an easy answer.
“As it relates to residency, I think a driver’s license is fine, frankly,” he said. “Are [wardens] going to have trouble year one? Yeah. Maybe even year two. But I think in the long run, they’ll be able to handle this task.”
House Bill 123 still must navigate three readings on the House floor, a Senate committee hearing and then three readings in the upper chamber. If it passes it’ll take effect July 1, which would make the May 1, 2023 shed antler opener the last of the unregulated era.

Mike Koshmrl

MIKE KO

 
I'm interested in the legality of this. @Big Fin has done a good job explaining that wildlife is owned by the citizens of the state and thus is not bound by land ownership. However, is a shed counted as wildlife? Does WYGFD have the authority of sheds on national lands? The author says, "If HB 123 becomes law, the statute change would give the Wyoming Game and Fish Department ownership over shed antlers on public land.". If they don't have authority on private land how do have authority on national land?

I think shed hunting needs to be managed but making it a resident vs nonresident issue is one of the dumbest things I've heard for real solutions that benefit the wildlife.
 
Dang, I've never thought about it in terms of shed antlers. I don't do the shed hunting thing, but you make a really good point.

The reason the Public Trust Doctrine, a doctrine rooted in water resources, applies is that wildlife is like water in that it moves across the land without respect to property boundaries. But, once and antler drops, it is no longer moving across the land like wildlife or water.

Hmm. This would be an interesting legal debate. And regardless of the legalities, I agree, it needs to be managed somehow. Since I don't do shed hunting, I'd be the worst person to opine on how it should be managed.
 
I think they are really muddying the water on this on.

Collection and sale shed antlers isn't in any way shape or form wildlife mangement and doesn't fall under any tenant of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. If it did it would be outlawed under "Prohibition on Commerce of Dead Wildlife: Commercial hunting and the sale of wildlife is prohibited to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations. The Lacey Act, which the Service has a role in enforcing, prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported or sold."

That being said stipulations on when shed hunting can be started or allowed is on the premise that its done at a time to prevent undue stress to animals coming off a rough winter. I feel that Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment should be revisited to offer more protections than just basic to the maintenance or wellbeing of the Union.

Are shed antlers the resource or the are the animals that shed the animals a resource? No state should limit the right of a citizen from another state to access federal land for their enjoyment.
 
So dumb IMO

So it’s not about a wildlife concern it’s about residents ability to pick a piece of bone up off the ground before a non resident does? I sure hope no residents are out hammering the winter range right now looking to get the best photos they can of this years star buck or bull for their portfolio and street cred
 
I'm not sure about the state owning the sheds on public ground, sounds like a bad idea but limits I guess can be placed on possessing them perhaps. States do have laws about dead head pickups and the like.

It can be a management concern if animals are pressured on the winter range, hence the seasons and limitations on the areas.
How about making the sale of sheds illegal?
 
They could solve 90% of their problems by just limiting people from Utah.

BUILD THE WALL
I can’t believe Colorado hasn’t banned utards. From what I’ve seen they way out number the residents. As a nonresident who won’t shed hunt in wyoming I would support this one. I would take it one step further and ban antler sales. Let’s save some wildlife.
 
Interesting. So on national forest lands, people from a nearby state wouldn't be allowed to pick up an antler before x date? This shits getting out of hand. Are we still allowed to hike there? Can I pick up an agate if I see one? Or are we going to need licenses to do that?

Federal lands such as national forests, or US forest service land is federally funded right? Shouldn't non residents have just as much of a right to utilize them as a resident?
 
I don't know much about western shed hunting, but what exactly will be illegal for a non-resident to do during those 3 days? Bring antlers back to their vehicle? Pick up an antler? Could I just go out with everyone else, find some antlers, stash them away somewhere in the brush and then come back for them later? What will enforcement look like for all the hikers, skiers, etc. who are just doing their thing, find a deer antler and bring it out as a souveneir, not knowing anything about shed hunting as an activity/money maker?
There are certainly more important things to worry about, but for some reason this one leaves me shaking my head..
 
I don't know much about western shed hunting, but what exactly will be illegal for a non-resident to do during those 3 days? Bring antlers back to their vehicle? Pick up an antler? Could I just go out with everyone else, find some antlers, stash them away somewhere in the brush and then come back for them later? What will enforcement look like for all the hikers, skiers, etc. who are just doing their thing, find a deer antler and bring it out as a souveneir, not knowing anything about shed hunting as an activity/money maker?
There are certainly more important things to worry about, but for some reason this one leaves me shaking my head..
Jail time.
 
About 15 years ago we had a problem with a trespasser who was shed hunting. The guy was parking in a legal spot to enter the neighboring public property, a national monument, hiking the trail that makes a loop about 30 feet from the fence and just hopping over onto private. We told the NPS ranger what was going on so he was on the lookout. after a few days he pulled in the driveway to report he’d caught the guy, so naturally I asked him what he cited him for. Shed hunting is illegal in the monument. The ranger laughed and said “If I brought a ticket to the District Attorney for shed hunting he’d never take me seriously again.” So if you guys think a person gets off easy for poaching and other wildlife crimes be prepared…
 
I’m having a hard time imagining much resident opposition to this one.
Id be willing to allow the NR the same time as me, as long as we ban the yahoos with 5 side by sides, walkie talkies, drone photographs, and teams of people all stacking the truck beds full for all there social media bs and dog chew/antler businesses (y)
 
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