Shed Antler Hunters must know Laws

With spring just around the corner, it's an exciting time for families and individuals who enjoy gathering antlers and horns shed by big game animals each year. Those heading out are reminded of the regulations that must be followed, regarding their possession.

According to Utah law, a person may possess antlers or horns from legally taken animals, as well as 'shed' antlers and horns. A shed antler or horn is one that has dropped from a big game animal (a moose, elk, deer or pronghorn antelope) as part of its life cycle. Shed antlers have a rounded base, commonly called a button or burr. The horns shed by pronghorn antelope are a hollow sheath. (Pronghorns are the only big game animals that shed their horns.)

Shed antlers and horns may be possessed at any time, with no restrictions on their barter, trade or sale. In contrast, antlers or horns that are attached to a skull plate must have been taken legally or purchased from someone who took the animal legally. The person who purchases antlers or horns attached to a skull plate must keep a transaction record that includes the name and address of the hunter the antlers or horns were purchased from, the hunter's permit number and the date of purchase or sale.

Antlers, horns and heads of legally taken animals may be purchased or sold only between Feb. 15 and July 31 annually. This transaction record allows the Division of Wildlife Resources to identify animals that have been taken legally. This requirement makes it easier to identify big game animals that were taken illegally for the trophy value of their antlers or horns.

Deer shed their antlers during February and March, while elk shed later and at higher elevations. This year, however, heavy snows blanket the high country and in many Utah areas, much of the mid-elevation sagebrush steppe zone is dead or dying from years of drought. This has forced elk and deer to concentrate at lower elevations. Winter range crowding increases the animals' stress as they compete for food and space. The animals' low energy reserves are taxed even more by human activity, where careless shed antler and horn hunters can tip the delicate energy balance, contributing to big game winterkill.

Probably the worst threat comes from irresponsible off-highway vehicle use. Off-road travel is illegal and should not be practiced at any time, especially when gathering antlers. The DWR has received reports of OHV riders chasing deer and elk through trees to knock off their
antlers. This practice is extremely damaging and illegal. Anyone caught harassing wildlife will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

When collecting shed antlers and horns, please pay attention to the body language of the animals you see. If they appear to be nervous or begin to move away, give them more space by backing off or traveling in another direction. Shed gathering can be a great family outing. Please remember the following as you gather shed antlers and horns this year:

- Avoid picking up antlers that are attached to a skull plate. Instead, mark the area and contact your local DWR conservation officer.

- Respect the space and needs of wintering big game. Give animals plenty of room.

Schedule Summer Camping now

It may still be February, but it's almost the Fourth of July to many anxious campers and Utah State Parks and Recreation reservation agents. Because state park reservation policy allows campers to reserve individual campsites up to 16 weeks prior to their date of departure from the park, campers may begin reserving for the Fourth of July weekend on Thurs., March 3.

The Utah State Parks reservation number from within the Salt Lake calling area is (801) 322-3770. Outside the Salt Lake area, call toll-free (800) 322-3770. Customers may reserve up to three campsites per call.

"We suggest campers start planning early for the upcoming season," commented Nichole Mallory, reservation manager. "During summer months, reservations are strongly recommended, especially for parks such as Jordanelle, Bear Lake, and Wasatch Mountain."

Individual campsite reservations must be made at least two days in advance of arrival date. A $7 non-refundable reservation fee is charged for each site reserved. Group site reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance. A $10.25 non-refundable fee, along with a per/person fee is charged for group sites and building rentals. For more Utah State Parks information, visit

Take a walk on the wild side with the Layton, Wild Bird Center.

Join the Layton, Wild Bird Center, for a free nature/bird walk each Saturday. Trips leave from the Layton, Wild Bird Center at 10 a.m. (unless posted otherwise). Bird walks are a great family activity and a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of nature. Expert birder and Division of Wildlife Resources volunteer Naturalist, Bill Fenimore leads each bird walk.

The Wild Bird Center is located in the Layton Market Center, off I-15 at Exit 335 (across from Barnes & Noble). For more information, call (801)525-8400 or visit the Bird Walk calendar at

February 26 Kaysville Ponds

March 5 Home & Garden Show, Weber County

March 12 Antelope Island

March 19 Riverdale Weber River Parkway

March 26 Farmington Bay Full Moon Walk in the Marsh (Depart at 7 p.m.)

April 2 Nature Conservancy Wetlands

April 9 Kaysville Foothills Wilderness Park

April 16 East Canyon, Sage Grouse Dancing Lek (leave the store at 5 a.m.)

April 23 Ogden Nature Center

April 30 Kayscreek Parkway

May 14 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival

June 4 La Plata (Leave from the store at 7 a.m.)

June 11 La Plata (Leave from the store at 7 a.m.)

June 18 Nature Conservancy Wetlands, Father's Day Bird Walk

June 25 North Arm, Pineview Reservoir

Utah Waterfowl Meeting scheduled March 12

Waterfowlers are invited to participate in the Utah Waterfowl Association Spring Meeting and Issues Workshop, scheduled March 12 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Division of Natural Resources building (1594 W. North Temple) in Salt Lake City.

A short general business meeting will include a review of UWA current issues, followed by a workshop addressing hunting pressure, wetland ecology, phragmites ecology, management, and wetland conservation funding programs.

Coffee and donuts provided to participants. For more information contact Jeff Richards Registration of $15 includes an annual membership.

Help birds with clean Bird Feeders

Nearly 350,000 Utahns enjoy feeding birds during the winter and evidence shows that birds, in general, benefit, but unfortunately avian diseases are easily spread, due to the large numbers of birds which gather at these feeders.

To limit the spread of avian diseases, Frank Howe, Nongame Avian Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, suggests that wildlife enthusiasts regularly clean their feeders. Howe comments that areas around the state have had reports of salmonella-infected birds in the past. He noted, "This is not a common disease in wild birds, but it is frequently seen in a few species at feeders. The disease usually occurs in localized areas and only affects a few birds at a time. Pine siskins, evening grosbeaks, American goldfinches and other birds in the finch family are particularly susceptible."

Avian salmonellosis is a disease caused by salmonella bacteria, according to Nathan Darnall, Environmental Contaminants Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This bacteria is spread when birds at feeders eat food that has been contaminated by fecal droppings from infected birds. It also may be spread by direct bird-to-bird contact.

Howe added, "This disease can be halted by simply cleaning infected feeders with bleach and water and removing waste grains. The trick is to let your neighbors know, so that everyone gets their feeders disinfected and the disease isn't harbored at somebody's feeder." Disinfecting feeders with one part bleach to nine parts water can prevent a number of common feeder diseases, including avian tuberculosis, chlamydia, conjunctivitis, and avian pox.

Darnall lists the symptoms of salmonella-infected birds as lethargy, thirst, fluffed feathers, and difficulty breathing. He noted, "Sick birds die quickly, usually within a day after first being observed."

If you suspect a bird has died from salmonellosis, the dead bird can be safely disposed of by placing it in a plastic bag and throwing it in the trash. This will prevent spreading the disease to children or pets. You should also avoid direct contact with the dead bird and wash with anti-bacterial soap if you handle infected birds or feeders.

If you notice a large number of dead birds (10 or more), please notify the Division of Wildlife Resources at (801) 538-4764 or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (801) 524-5001.

Wild Turkeys Find New Home Near Huntington

Thirteen Rio Grande wild turkeys were recently released near Huntington by the Division of Wildlife Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), with approximately 60 Emery High School (EHS) students participating in the release. These students are affiliated with the Future Farmers of America and are enrolled in agriculture and animal science classes at EHS.

"For the past seven years, Utah has been the number one wild turkey restoration state in the union," commented Brett Johnson, NWTF regional field supervisor. "In the past decade, the DWR and NWTF have brought nearly 7,000 birds into Utah from other states. Utah has come a long way from having virtually no turkeys to a current population ranging between 20,000 and 30,000 birds."

Jon Leonard, NWTF Utah State Chapter president, said the cost to release a single wild turkey from out-of-state runs about $188 per bird. This amount includes capture costs, transportation, veterinary expenses, interstate coordination and release efforts. In-state transplants cost about $25 a bird.

Two of the 13 birds released near Huntington were outfitted with radio transmitters, which allow biologists to monitor movements, nesting locations and possible flock migration. Marcy Curtis, president of Castle Country Gobblers, said more than 200 wild turkeys were recently observed in Ephraim Canyon in Sanpete County. This observation was odd, since no wild birds have ever been released in the county. Some flocks apparently travel great distances from their release locations.

"This is so exciting," Marcy beamed. "It makes me feel like a kid again!" Marcy became addicted to wild turkeys during her high school years. "I love to involve students!" she said. "When they get excited, they fire up a community, which pushes for more releases and release
sites." Marcy urged EHS students to honor and respect private property, which provides some of the best wild turkey habitat around.
Big Fish await at Flaming Gorge Reservoir

Ice anglers are catching large lunkers at Flaming Gorge this season, although not all of the reservoir is frozen over. The reservoir has been frozen from the Pipeline north with fishable ice from Anvil Draw north, but anglers are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions carefully.

Ice fishing from Buckboard to the Confluence has been good to excellent for 2 to 4 pound lake trout over the river channel. Many of these fish are suspended from 30 to 50 feet deep and a graph is invaluable to present the lure at the proper depth. Try three-inch jigs tipped with sucker meat or a minnow.

There have been reports of large lake trout caught in the Anvil Draw area, and good boat fishing in Linwood Bay and Stateline. Look for fish 50 to 90 feet deep over points and along the river channel. Techniques include trolling bottom structure using down riggers or steel line and flatfish, crank baits, or a flasher trailing a squid or small lure; or vertical jigging using tube or bucktail jigs with or without a minnow or sucker meat.

One angler reported pulling fish in from the deep100ft mark. He exclaimed, "Man would they slam the heck out of our bait! There were little cities of people all over but not much happening for them. I fished Thursday in a good spot and caught 11, lost 4 and can't count how many I missed. They were all from 12lb-29lb. On Friday we iced 11 again lost 6 and missed a few other's. The biggest of the day was around 33lb."

Lake trout can inhabit shallow water this time of year, so another effective technique is long lining a Rapala or similar lure on monofilament along shoreline areas as well as over traditional deep runs. There are many small and medium sized lake trout in Flaming Gorge and anglers are encouraged to take advantage of the six fish lake trout regulation (one over 28 inches) and harvest a limit.

Ice fishing for rainbow trout has been good in 10 to15 feet of water using ice flies tipped with a nightcrawler or meal worm. Shore fishing for rainbows should be good near Sheep Creek, Antelope, Linwood Bay, and Mustang fishing a nightcrawler/marshmallow combo or Powerbait just off the bottom, or casting spinners or jigs.

As of mid-February the Mustang ramp was open with no ice for several miles up reservoir. Sheep Creek, Antelope and Lucerne ramps were open, however boaters were breaking ice at Lucerne to reach open water.