Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently set an antler gathering closure starting Jan. 1, 2024, and running through April 14, 2024, in the Upper Snake and Southeast Regions. The closure will only take place on public land, and activities other than antler hunting will not be affected.
The closure is intended to reduce stress on wintering big game herds, which suffered from the extremely harsh winter of 2022-23, and the closure is intended to help eastern Idaho mule deer herds recover quicker.
This is the first closure for antler hunting in Idaho since 2002. Earlier this year, the Idaho Legislature passed legislation that gave the Commission authority to seasonally restrict the possession, transportation and collection of shed antlers and horns, as well as antlers or horns from animals that died of natural causes.
The antler gathering closure for early 2024 only applies to antlers from white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
Temporary antler hunting closure Q&A
Is this closure statewide?
No. It only applies to the Upper Snake and Southeast Regions.
What are the new restrictions related to possession and transportation of antlers?
New legislation resulted in the temporary restriction on searching for, locating, or gathering shed antlers from deer, elk and moose and antlers from deer, elk and moose that have died from natural causes between Jan. 1, 2024, and April 14, 2024, only in the Upper Snake Region and the Southeast Region.
The temporary closure includes caching, marking locations with GPS, and the use of unmanned aircraft systems to locate antlers.
Can a person be cited for ignoring the closure?
Yes, it can result in a misdemeanor citation.
Does this apply to private lands?
No, the law does not apply to a private landowner or his/her designee on land leased or owned by that person.
Why only restrict antler gathering when so many other activities can disturb wintering big game herds?
Fish and Game can only regulate fishing and hunting-based activities, not other activities that may occur on public lands. Those activities are within the authority of the agency that manages that public land.
Will this closure happen every year?
No. The intent is to protect wintering big game during or after extreme winters, and to help them recover faster. Future closures will depend on future winter conditions.
Are the closures supported by the public?
The legislation to regulate antler gathering was initiated by sportsmen and women wanting to protect wintering big game herds. Idaho Fish and Game hosted a public comment period prior to the Commission’s decision, and 1,913 people provided input regarding antler gathering closures:
69 percent supported the concept, (18 percent of those supported it with some concerns)
31 percent did not support it
Of those who supported antler gathering closures, 91 percent supported closures in both the Southeast and Upper Snake Regions.
(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)
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