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.