The Wyoming state legislature has passed two new bills regulating shed hunting. The bills will change resident and non-resident season dates as well as non-resident permit requirements.
“It’s not just about protecting wintering wildlife,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director, Brian Nesvik told WyoFile. “Instead, it’s that many people around the state that engage in that activity have said, ‘Hey, we’ve got too many people [doing this] and we’ve got to regulate this.’”
The legislation has been spearheaded and pushed through by two junior lawmakers, Rep. Ryan Berger (R-Evanston) and Rep. Cody Wylie (R-Rock Springs).
Shed hunting has become an extremely popular sport in recent years. This increased interest has brought enthusiasts from around the country to Western states in search of shed antlers.
Rep. Wylie says the rush of people in his district can be overwhelming.
“In some cases, you’re getting more than the population of your community showing up right on your doorstep,” he said.
One Week Head Start
House Bill 123 adjusts the start dates of shed hunting. It institutes that the non-resident season won’t begin until seven days after the start of the resident season.
This expands a previous rule that initially established an official start date. When it was first introduced, it was suggested that there be a three-day lead time given to residents. However, the final bill gives Wyoming residents a week’s head start in the mountains.
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“This started for me when I was a kid living in Jackson. As a young scout, going out and enjoying an outing with my troop, my father and going out on the [National Elk] Refuge and collecting sheds,” said Rep. Berger, HB 123’s primary sponsor.
Back then, the May 1 opener, “wasn’t a rush,” he added.
Now, it is a mad dash on the outskirts of the Refuge, for residents and non-residents alike, to find the prize before the rest of the mob beats you out on opening day.
House Bill 276 initiates the requirement for non-residents to obtain a “conservation stamp” to shed hunt on state and public lands. This requirement will not apply to residents or anyone under the age of fifteen.
The final version of the legislation declares that shed antlers and horns located on state or public lands are property of the state, similar to the animals that drop them. This gives the state the authority to require a stamp or permit.
A Conservation Stamp is already a requirement to hunt or fish in the state and costs $21.50. This requirement wasn’t previously extended to shed hunting, however.
Both bills still have to be signed by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. Bill 276 requiring the stamp was expected to hit his desk on Thursday, according to Gordon’s spokesperson, Michael Pearlman, but still has yet to be signed.
Pearlman said the legislation has not been flagged as problematic by the governor’s office.
As for HB 123, it is still unclear when it will move forward. Unlike the other bill, HB 123 has almost died twice during the legislative process. It narrowly managed to pass on Monday after Sen. Bill Landen (R-Casper) changed from “nay” to “aye” at the last moment during the second round of voting.
If Gov. Gordon signs both bills, they will go into effect and be enforced by the Game and Fish Department starting July 1st. This is after May 1st — the start of the season — which means non-residents would have one more year to start shed hunting on opening day.
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