The Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners approved a new regulation that prohibits the taking or gathering of shed antlers from public land in Elko, Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye or White Pine counties from Jan. 1 – April 30 each year.
The item was placed on the Jan. 17 meeting and originated from petitions coming out of the eastern Nevada County Advisory Boards to Manage Wildlife (CABMW).
These eastern Nevada CABMW have the most concentrated deer and elk winter ranges, most severe winters, and the heaviest shed hunting pressure. Shed hunting is still open year-round in the other 11 counties in Nevada.
The goal is to allow deer and elk herds in eastern and central Nevada to utilize their critical winter range habitats without being disturbed. As shed hunting becomes more popular each year, mounting pressure from shed hunters has forced animals to move onto sub-par habitat and expend crucial energy reserves during critical winter months.
Antlers, unlike horns, only last part of the year and are then cast aside, or shed in March and April each year. For animals such as moose, deer or elk this is a natural process.
Shortly after the old antler is shed a new one begins to grow in its place. For some, shed hunting is an extension of the hunt, like finding a lost treasurer. It’s a family affair for some, and big business for others.
There are several websites on the internet that sell antler chandeliers, lamps, etc. with a starting price tag of $295.
Shed hunting has also created increased traffic around big game winter ranges and resulted in habitat impacts and road degradation on both private and public lands. It was the combination of animal disturbance and habitat degradation that was the basis for the regulation.
Last year Nevada saw a significant increase in shed hunting pressure when, due to extreme winter conditions and deep snows, Utah closed their shed antler hunting season in an effort to reduce stress on deer, elk and moose to help more animals make it through harsh winter.
The closure was extended through April in an attempt to lessen habitat degradation and disturbance on breeding sage grouse.