Greed, shady business dealings and disregard for the law have resulted in severe consequences for a Montana man.

Shed hunting is a popular activity among Montana's outdoors enthusiasts. But there are rules and regulations that hopefully most of you who participate in the hobby respect.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Joshua Anders Rae of Bozeman has pleaded guilty to collecting antlers outside legal dates for areas west of the continental divide in Wyoming. Mr. Rae is the owner of “Old West Antlers,” an on-line elk antler dog chew dealer.

The USDA says that officers patrolling a winter range outside of Jackson, Wyoming, "encountered Mr. Rae hiding illegally collecting antlers under the cover of darkness." The area has a history of being seasonally closed to protect wintering deer and elk.

USDA further states that "Rae, who entered the closure by traveling cross country a significant distance, was present in the area the day before the legal opening date, thus depriving numerous shed hunting enthusiasts of equal enjoyment and opportunity during the highly regulated opening day event."

The investigation found that Rae had cut approximately 44 pounds of illegally collected elk antlers into short sections, some of which were consistent with those sold through his online dog chew business. And these violations occurred while he was on federal probation for a 2019 misdemeanor Lacey Act conviction for the same offense in the same area. In that case, Rae was sentenced to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, subjected to a five-year ban from entering the National Elk Refuge, and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, plus five years’ probation and a five-year worldwide ban on hunting.

Apparently, that didn't send a clear enough message. Sentencing for the most recent felony charges for Mr. Rae include 90 days of home confinement, five years of supervised felony probation, a five-year ban from entering federal public lands, and as a five-year ban on hunting.

The 123-year-old Lacey Act is a U.S. conservation law that "prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold."

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