In recent years shed hunting has exploded in popularity, so much in fact that some states have a dedicated season regulating the gathering of shed antlers. The reasoning behind the seasons is that wildlife officials do not want shed hunters putting unneeded pressure on the animals when they are at their weakest.
These laws are put in place to protect the animals and give them time to recover before they are pressured again. So when someone breaks these laws it is a serious offense. This story out of Wyoming is the perfect example of what will happen if you are caught breaking the law.
According to The Billings Gazette, Joshua Anders Rae was charged with illegally possessing and transporting 104 pounds of unlawfully taken elk antlers. Rae is the owner of the Great American Antler Co., which sells antler pieces as dog chews.
After a joint investigation between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, they determined Rae had been unlawfully entering the National Elk Refuge and the Bridger-Teton National Forest during the elk’s overwintering season. He would locate elk antlers, cut them up and stash them so he could come back later to collect them when the season was open.
In April 2016, officers were alerted to unknown people unlawfully entering the National Elk Refuge and Bridger-Teton National Forest. When officers arrived, they discovered a hidden cache of freshly cut elk antlers that were cut into various sizes and buried in the ground. They subsequently searched other areas and found more than 15 caches of elk antlers that had been cut and hidden in a similar fashion.
Officers later collected antlers from the remaining cache sites, which weighed an additional 410 pounds.
Rae was charged with one misdemeanor count of violating the Lacey Act. He entered a plea deal and was fined $15,000 and placed on unsupervised probation for five years, which includes a five-year loss of hunting privileges worldwide.
He was also banned from visiting the National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
Who knows how long he has been doing this before he finally got caught. Just like poaching animals poaching sheds is stealing from the American public. So if you do buy antlers for your pets make sure they come from a reputable place.