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Don’t Take Shed Antlers in Winter and Early Spring in CO

By Wildlife Lawyer on February 20, 2022

Mule deer are majestic creatures with beautiful antlers that they naturally shed in the wintertime. Many nature-lovers and enthusiasts enjoy collecting these marvelous artefacts. Unfortunately, collecting mule deer antlers in winter can disrupt their tranquility and cause them physical harm.

It is harmful to gather the antlers during the winter and early spring when food is scarce, and the animals are trying to preserve their energy. That’s why people are legally prohibited from collecting shed antlers and horns from January 1 to April 30.

Winter Is the Time for Mule Deer to Rest

During the winter months, mule deer like to rest along the bare ridge backs. Food is scarce and their body weight will decrease, so the mule deer move around as little as possible to preserve calories until spring.

Antler collectors will often go to the ridge in search of shed antlers. This activity traumatizes the mule deer and causes them to flee, forcing them to expend valuable energy they need to survive the cold winter months. It also displaces them into colder areas with more snow where they have difficulty keeping warm. The deer should not have to spend energy avoiding humans instead of feeding and resting peacefully.

Winter is a vulnerable time for big game animals. The stress caused by people who disturb the animals may increase their mortality. In addition to damaging their health, human visitors cause females to have smaller offspring, decreasing fawn and calf survival rates.

For some people, collecting antlers has become a competitive sport. They may even chase the mule deer hoping they can get their antlers to fall off. Some unscrupulous people even use dogs to harass the mule deer or chase them into “traps” with ropes designed to sheer off the antlers. These illegal activities are certain to damage the mule deer’s health and well-being.

How to Protect the Mule Deer

During wintertime, it’s essential to give the mule deer their space. Contact the CPW if you have any questions about how you can help protect the mule deer and other wildlife in Colorado. You will want to take the following precautions around mule deer, especially in winter:

  • Keep your distance — if they run away, you are too close.
  • Don’t take ORVs or ATVs off established roads.
  • Don’t operate a snowmobile close to wintering mule deer.
  • Keep your dogs leashed and never let them chase animals.
  • Report people who harass mule deer to CWP.
  • Avoid bare ridges where they are resting in the winter months.
  • Limit human traffic within three hours of sunrise and sunset.
  • Avoid running, skiing, mountain biking, and snowshoeing close to mule deer.

Your Colorado Wildlife Law Attorney

Are you a sportsman, landowner, or outfitter who has been charged with violating state or federal wildlife laws? These laws can be pretty complicated, and the penalties are often severe. Contact the Colorado Wildlife Law Lawyer today by calling (720) 836-1777.

Sit down with us in a FREE, confidential consultation to talk about your case and learn how we can fight for you. We’re here to help.