March 14, 2005
Tom Farrell, 605-745-4600
With the approach of spring and the time of year that elk shed their antlers, park visitors are reminded that these items are protected by law and should be left where they are found. Elk antlers, some weighing as much as 25 pounds, can then cycle back into the ecosystem where they provide a source of calcium for many animals such as voles, mice, ground squirrels and even elk and bison.
Last year, seven people were stopped with elk antlers in their possession. With the season just beginning, one person has already been caught and cited and four other people are under investigation. Poachers illegally sell the antlers for use in western decorations and for use in furniture such as chairs and chandeliers.
Chief Ranger Rick Mossman said, “The poaching of elk antlers is a reoccurring problem here. To help protect these resources, we’ve increased patrols and installed surveillance equipment in the backcountry to guard against the theft of these items.”
The destruction or removal of natural or cultural features from national parks is prohibited by law and subject to fines up to $5,000 or 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 745-4600.