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Parks warns against antler collection

Parks Canada is reminding the public it’s against the law to take elk antlers.
Parks Canada is reminding the public it is against the law to take elk antlers.

Parks Canada is reminding the public it’s against the law to take elk antlers.

Male ungulates such as deer, elk and moose shed their antlers from late winter to spring and, while antlers might seem like interesting souvenirs to pick up, it’s a definite no-no in the national parks.

“Shed antler hunting is a pastime for some,” said Banff warden Greg Becic. “But, according to the National Parks wildlife regulations, it’s unlawful to possess or remove any wildlife or part thereof, including antlers, found within the national park.”

The issue has been somewhat of a concern in the mountain national parks over the past few years, with courts sending a strong message that removing antlers from Banff National Park is serious.

Anyone caught carrying or removing antlers could be charged, forced to make a mandatory court appearance and face a fine of up to $25,000 under the Canada National Parks Act.

In 2015, a Canmore man pleaded guilty and was fined $2,500 in Canmore Provincial Court for trying to remove elk antlers from the Carrot Creek area of the park on April 10 of that year.

Court was told at the time the man was seen at the Carrot Creek turnout along the Trans-Canada Highway by a warden on duty around 4 p.m. The warden returned at 6 p.m. and the vehicle was gone.

The warden then investigated the area with a K9 unit and found two sets of elk antlers stashed in trees nearby. A few hours later, after dusk, the warden parked and waited for the man to return for the antlers – and he did.

Elk antlers typically shed at a time when the animals’ testosterone levels are generally at the lowest. Low testosterone levels cause the bone connected to the base of the antler to deteriorate and eventually fall off.

Becic said shed antlers play an important role by being recycled back into the ecosystem.

“Shed antlers act as an important source of minerals, like calcium and phosphorous, for small animals, including squirrels, mice and porcupines, to name a few,” he said.

“Antlers also provide an exciting educational viewing opportunity for hikers and recreationalists.”

Wardens ask that any suspicious activity be reported to Banff dispatch at 403-762-1470.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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