Officials issued a slew of citations to people caught shed hunting in the National Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole.
Wyoming is one of several states with season restrictions on shed hunting. One of the most popular areas to walk for antlers in the Equality State is outside of Jackson on Bridger-Teton National Forest Land.
The area has a restriction on shed hunting before May 1. And now the Casper Star-Tribune is reporting the National Elk Refuge had to deal with numerous people who were caught shed hunting early. The big problem is people going in early and creating stashes of antlers.
"There's no doubt that people come in early," National Elk Refuge Deputy Manager Cris Dippel told the Star-Tribune. "They come in a month ago, and they start caching antlers. They might go in legally on May 1, but they go straight to the cache and they come out with 200 pounds of antlers."
He also told the paper that 281 vehicles travelled down the road to the refuge in the dark before the shed season's midnight opening. Officials observed spotlights in high, hard-to-reach areas only minutes after midnight, indicating people illegally snuck into the refuge early.
The refuge brought in six extra officers, but Dippel told the paper they could really use more. Officials handed out 30 citations trespassing on the refuge. The citations carry a $280 fine.
People caught with antlers early will also have to pay $10 a pound for the antlers they picked up early. The main motivation for early shed hunting is usually monetary. Jackson is home to a famous yearly elk antler sale.
Wyoming is just one of a number of western states that have put heavy restrictions on shed hunting in an effort to reduce stresses on wintering animals.