DURANGO — To protect wintering big-game animals and sage grouse species, collection of shed antlers on all public lands west of I-25 is prohibited from Jan. 1 through April 30.
“The purpose of the closures is to reduce disturbance of wintering wildlife during the time of year they are most vulnerable,” said Scott Wait, senior terrestrial biologist for the Southwest Region of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Big game and sage grouse species live in a basic survival mode during the winter when food is scarce. If forced to move and burn calories unnecessarily, wildlife can lose the energy they need to make it through the winter.
In addition to the statewide restrictions, additional special regulations are also in place for the Gunnison Basin. In Game Management Units 54, 55, 66, 67 and 551, it is illegal to search for or possess antlers and horns on public lands between legal sunset and 10 a.m. from May 1 through May 15.
Shed antler collecting has become very popular over the last decade. Commercial collectors, which sell sheds for decorations, have led to a substantial increase of people searching for antlers and horns in sensitive wildlife areas. The seasonal prohibition applies to both commercial and recreational collectors.
Anyone witnessing violations of the closure regulations should call the nearest CPW office or Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648.