Antler Hunter Fined for Harassing Wildlife
A man from Alaska who intentionally disturbed a herd of deer while in pursuit of shed antlers in the Gunnison area was cited for harassing wildlife Feb. 4 by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Jonah M. Stewart, 21, was ticketed after a DOW wildlife officer observed him deliberately walking into a deer herd and forcing the animals to move through deep snow in difficult conditions. He was also carrying antlers at the time. When contacted by the officer, Stewart admitted that he was pursuing the herd in search of shed antlers.
He was cited for harassing wildlife because his movements forced the deer to move unnaturally and caused significant stress to the animals. Stewart was fined $137 and 10 penalty points were assessed against his hunting and fishing privileges.
A concerned citizen informed the DOW about the situation.
It is legal to collect antler sheds in Colorado, but animals cannot be intentionally disturbed in the process.
At this time of year animals need to conserve energy in order to stay healthy throughout the winter. The DOW is concerned that people who are collecting shed antlers are going into winter-range areas and disturbing animals unnecessarily. Collecting antlers is growing in popularity because of their commercial value. Collectors from throughout the United States come to Colorado from late January through February to collect the sheds. �
Fining someone for harassment of wildlife is unusual, typically we cite people who allow their dogs to run uncontrolled chasing wildlife,� said J Wenum, area wildlife manager for the DOW in Gunnison. �But we want people to know that we are serious about protecting wildlife resources. The Gunnison community has real concerns about people who are intentionally disturbing big-game animals on winter range in pursuit of antler sheds.�
DOW wildlife officers are patrolling areas in Gunnison and throughout the state keeping an eye out for collectors who are harassing animals.
The DOW asks that people wait until late spring to look for antlers. By that time snow is gone and deer are not in a stress condition. �
We�re asking people to exercise some common sense. Allow the animals the chance to get through the winter conditions.� Wenum said.
If you see someone harassing wildlife, please call a local DOW office or Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648.