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Elk-Antler Poachers Busted At Wind Cave National Park


Rangers at Wind Cave National Park took possession of elk antlers and skulls that three Minnesota residents had illegally collected in the park. NPS photo.

Elk antlers wind up in art, are ground into perceived aphrodisiacs, and grace fireplaces. But they're also illegal to collect in national parks, as three Minnesotans found out when they were busted recently at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.

Each spring, elk antlers, some weighing as much as 25 pounds, drop off the elk in preparation of growing a new set. Poachers illegally sell the antlers for use in western decorations and in furniture such as chairs and chandeliers.

“Every year we cite people for antler collecting and this spring has been no different,” said Acting Chief Ranger Mike Wilson. On March 17-18 “three people from Minnesota were apprehended after they attempted to take numerous rocks, skulls, and more than 35 antlers.”

Elk antlers left in the wild eventually cycle back into the ecosystem where they provide a source of calcium and minerals for many animals such as mice, ground squirrels, bison, and even elk.

The possession, removal, digging, defacing, or disturbing of natural or cultural features from national parks is prohibited by law and subject to fines up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail. Anyone with information regarding antler poaching or other illegal activities occurring within Wind Cave National Park is asked to contact the park at (605) 745-4600.


I would note that there is the Jackson Hole Elkfest, which is capped by the Jackson Hole Boy Scout Elk Antler Auction. I believe the local chapter of the BSA gets a special permit from USFWS to collect shed antlers in the National El Refuge.

The town of Jackson has several elk arches. I'm not sure what the source for so many would be, but I would think they were either purchased or donated.

I would wonder why anyone would buy from illegal sources when it's not that hard to get legally taken antlers.

But those mice need the calcium, Y_P_W!!  How inconsiderate, really, lol!

Probably should stop all retrieval of back country fatalities that deprive the environment of all those minerals, compostable nutrients, fossil fuels and sound polution used to deliver to imbalming facilities, motorcades and the rest.  Just gets more and more crazy:)!

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