Why It Matters: In the western US, there is a growing concern that shed hunters are contributing significantly to increased stress of wintering big game, especially in areas that may have experienced severe winter weather. As conservationists first, sportspeople in Idaho came together to advocate for this important measure that balances sportsperson access and opportunity with the overall health of the state’s wildlife populations.
- The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) submitted testimony in support of Idaho Senate Bill 1143 – legislation that aims to provide the Idaho Fish and Game Commission with the ability to impose seasonal restrictions on the possession, transportation, and collection of antlers and horns to protect wintering big game.
- Shed hunting has become a thriving industry in addition to being a great activity for all ages by providing an interactive way to enjoy nature during the traditional off-season.
- Unfortunately, the additional stress caused by shed hunting on wintering big game can be deadly, and has been shown to negatively impact the health of the overall population.
As people look for more reasons to get outside and enjoy nature at all times of the year, shed hunting has gained significant favor with the public in recent years. From the opportunist to the hobbyist, and professional, more people are spending time in the great outdoors in search of these prized trophies. Shed hunting has become a thriving industry in addition to being a great activity for all ages by providing an interactive way to enjoy nature during the traditional off-season. However, wintering big game animals are very susceptible to any kind of disturbance – whether it is from passing motorists, winter recreationists, domestic dogs, predators, or shed hunters in late winter and early spring.
There is growing concern over shed hunters putting additional stress on wintering big game in many areas around the West, especially in areas that may have experienced severe winter weather. 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 them energy and further depletes their reserves. Energy depletion can lead to sickness and oftentimes death, especially for fawns and calves at this critical time of year.
Originating out of concerns regarding an increase in disturbance of wintering big game due to neighboring states shutting down or postponing shed hunting activities due to regionwide severe weather, Idaho Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Sen. Mark Harris spearheaded SB-1143 to expand the regulatory authority of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to impose seasonal restrictions on the possession, transportation, and collection of antlers, horns, or deadheads to protect wintering big game.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation submitted testimony in support for SB-1143 and praised the bill sponsors for allowing the Commission to address this important issue through the regulatory process with ample opportunity for public input. As the entity best equipped to make informed, science-based management decisions related to the management of Idaho’s fish and wildlife, IDFG is well poised to be able to address this issue while prioritizing the health and sustainability of the state’s big game and maintaining opportunity for sportsmen and women.