This photo was taken on February 22 near Pierce Point Ranch. The bull is sporting a pretty impressive 7-point rack. He won’t have those big antlers for long though. I saw one of the Limantour herd bulls with only one antler that day. It looks like antler-dropping season has begun. Last year I posted a photo of a bull on February 15 whose antlers were gone and new antler growth was already quite visible. To see that post click here.
Collecting antlers is illegal. That doesn’t stop people though. Antlers sold on the black market are worth a fair amount of money. The Park Service goes out and tries to keep ahead of the collectors. You may wonder what the Park Service does with the antlers. The answer is that it grinds them up and puts them back in the areas where they found them because they are an important source of calcium and other minerals for rodents and other wildlife. For a photo of an elk with a deer antler in its mouth click here.
It’s too bad people won’t just leave them where they’ve fallen, but they won’t. As long as people want animal parts (tusks, horns, paws, teeth, gall bladders etc.), and are willing to pay for them, there will be people who will hunt for those parts even if it means killing the animals (which it usually does). Unfortunately, this is the way it’s always been.