CARSON CITY — The Nevada Department of Wildlife wants to get a handle on just how big the commercial antler business is in the Silver State.
The department is pushing for Assembly Bill 74 in the Nevada Legislature this session, which would require anyone who buys, sells or trades antlers harvested from a big game animal to have a state license. The bill would not affect the exchange of antlers that are shed naturally from ungulates like mule deer and elk. The license would cost $63 for residents, and $125 for nonresidents.
The genesis of the bill came about after a meeting between an NDOW warden and a person who had a sign on a trailer that said “Buying antlers,” Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed told lawmakers in the Assembly Natural Resources committee Wednesday.
“It brought to light that we don’t regulate those antler buyers,” Turnipseed said.
The bill would only affect 10 or fewer people, Turnipseed said, who added that brokers often drive between the Mountain West states like Utah, Colorado and Nevada on an almost daily basis looking for new antlers to buy from hunters. Elk antlers that haven’t been bleached by the sun, Turnipseed added, can sell for up to $14 per pound. Those elk antlers often weigh 20 pounds and the largest ones can weigh up to 40 pounds.
“So it’s not a huge segment of people, but they do a lot of business,” Turnipseed said.
Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Network-backed advocacy group, opposed the bill, saying that it is an example of “just how ridiculous occupational licensing has gotten in this state.”
“Just simply because you’re selling antlers for profit isn’t enough for a justification to ask for a government permission slip to do it,” said Marcos Lopez, Nevada field director for Americans for Prosperity.
The committee did not vote on the bill Wednesday.