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Lawmakers amend shed antler bill to delay season start for non-residents by 7 days 

Jason House stands in a trailer next to his scale, weighing a large brown elk antler. A pile of antlers spills around him.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media
Jason House weighs an elk antler on a scale to determine the price at his trailer in Pinedale. He hunts and buys antlers from all over the country.

Two bills that deal with shed antler hunting season in western and southern Wyoming are getting closer to becoming law soon, and they were recently updated to be more strict on non-resident hunters.

One of the bills originally gave Wyoming residents a three-day head start on shed hunting season. But, it was amended to now give a seven day advantage. Meaning, residents could begin hunting May 1 at 6 a.m. on public lands. Non-residents would have to wait until May 8 at 6 a.m.

Sen. Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) sponsored the amendment and spoke in favor.

“So, if we're really gonna give residents a shot – all residents – just not those ones that are willing to take a day off of work, I think we ought to give families an opportunity to go out on a weekend,” he said.

The amendment passed the senate. There are still a couple more votes that have to happen before the bill would land on the governor’s desk.

Another bill originally required non-residents to purchase a conservation stamp to hunt horns before June 30, but Hicks said only requiring the stamp for two months seemed complicated.

“I think it makes it a little more difficult for both non-residents and even from an enforcement standpoint to say, “On this day you have to have a conservation to do this activity and on this day you don’t’,” he said.

An amendment passed to require non-residents to carry a stamp for the whole season, which is primarily until December 31. The stamp costs $21.50. This bill will also need a couple more votes before being signed into law.

In a Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources committee meeting last week, both bills passed unanimously. However, there was some concern about enforcement.

“There's not going to be any way of identifying individuals and telling them to stay off public lands,” Andrew Jakovak, a shed hunter in Teton County, testified to the committee. “And our enforcement is already short handed, I don't see how this is going to be a help to them as well.”

But, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) supports the bills.

Another concern from the public was how the bills could affect immigrant workers who are living in Wyoming, but not technically residents.

“It's a little extra money that they make when the horn hunters come through in the fall, looking for horns, but it's not like that they're out, looking for horns actively,” said Laura Pearson, a sheep rancher in southwest Wyoming. “But if they see them, are they going to be allowed to pick them up on May 1?”

The WGFD said immigrant workers would have to wait the same length as other non-residents to hunt for shed antlers, but that the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission could potentially consider amending this later.

Both bills were set to be read a third time on Feb. 23, but were laid back until Feb. 24. If passed, the House will have to approve the amendments, as well, before the bills would be sent to the Governor.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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