Shed hunting can have deadly implications for animals weakened by the rigors of winter

As anxious shed antler hunters prepare to take to Idaho’s hills in search of fresh bounty, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game urges them to avoid stressing wildlife trying to survive the late winter storms.

Shed antlers from deer, elk and moose are commonly found in areas where they spend the winter months. Typically, mule deer and moose shed in late December through January, and elk shed from mid-winter through April.

While there are no seasons directly related to shed hunting in Idaho, some areas do have administrative restrictions in place and may be closed to human entry or restrict motorized travel during the winter and spring months. It is the responsibility of all who venture out into the field this spring to give wildlife some space and respect the measures used to increase their chances of survival. Unfortunately, violation of travel restrictions occurs far too frequently and during the worst time of the year for the animals.

“Wintering big game animals are very susceptible to any kind of disturbance whether it is from passing motorists, domestic dogs, predators or shed hunters in late winter and early spring,” said Dennis Newman, Fish and Game wildlife manager. “There’s growing concern over shed hunters putting additional stress on wintering big game in many areas of the state.”

At this time of year, deer and elk rely on their body reserves and what little nutrition they can get from surrounding vegetation. Any extra movement an animal makes costs energy and that depletes the little energy it has left. Energy depletion can lead to sickness and oftentimes death, especially for fawns and calves at this critical time of year.

“Right now, deer and elk are just trying to

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