REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Antler hunters are reminded that the Egin-Hamer winter range will remain closed until sunrise on May 1, 2017.
The closure, is designed to protect critical winter habitat.
"We work diligently with our partners and local counties to tell people why this closure is so important for wildlife," said BLM Ranger Jeff Roberts. "Unfortunately, harassment of the animals continues and we've already had 4 cases this year involving illegal horn collecting."
BLM used tips it received in March to recover approximately 80 illegally gathered sheds. They had a street value of $1,000. The antlers were returned to Idaho Falls this week after they were tracked to Kansas. Those responsible admitted illegally entering the Egin-Hamer closure area and transporting the antlers across state lines.
The antlers will be returned to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and sold at public auction.
The Egin-Hamer closure has been in place since 1987 and applies to both public and private lands. "The area provides critically important winter habitat for elk, deer, and other big game animals," said Devin Englestead, wildlife biologist for the Upper Snake area.
"Big game animals have definitely needed the Sand Creek desert area this year," said Englestead. "The no human entry closure is necessary to ensure healthy populations continue."
Violation of the Egin-Hamer closure can result in a class A misdemeanor with penalties of up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. People who transport illegally gathered animal parts across state lines are in violation of the Lacey Act, which can result in a misdemeanor of up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. The fines are even steeper for commercial violators.
More information on the closure is available here.