September 25, 2022

Don't Harass Deer and Elk

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Colorado is reminding people that harassing deer and elk herds during the winter months can be deadly to the animals. To better understand how this is possible, let’s look more closely at the state of the animals during winter.

It should be known by most people that deer and elk spend the winter in herds living in a progressive state of starvation. When the temperature outside drops, the calories expended by the animals goes up eating away at the reserves of stored fat. When temperatures are persistently cold and brutal by human standards and remain in place for long periods of time, which is what most normal winters are like, the effort to survive becomes harder and harder. In essence, each animal gets closer and closer to death. Some don’t make it.

Often times we think that the bigger older bucks will be the first to survive. This is to the contrary. Remember that just prior to going into the harsh winter months, deer are completing the annual rut. During the rut, the bucks, particularly the dominant males, have expended huge amounts of fat reserves needed for winter survival. Because of this, it puts them at a higher risk.

With deer and elk in this state of near starvation, with little if any energy available other than to stay warm and forage of what little food there is, the last thing that is needed is for someone to come along and force the herd to run away to escape danger. This could be what puts some animals over the edge, resulting in death.

In Colorado, there are too many hunters and antler collectors decending on parts of the state looking for antler sheds. The deer and elk shed their antlers usually between January and March and hunters go there to try to locate where next year’s trophy buck can be found. Antler collectors also show up to scavenge for them.

It is legal to collect and sell antlers in Colorado but it is illegal to harass game. Walking into the middle of a wintering herd of deer and elk for the purpose of collecting antlers can and is considered harassment and fines can be levied.

It has gotten to the point where these antler hunters are now using trained dogs to locate and retrieve antler sheds. This can clearly be perceived as animal harassment. So please, don’t let your greed and selfishness put these animals at further risk of death.
Tom Remington