Mostly Trapping

Roadkill on the menu? What California could learn from other states
Feb 25, 2019 21:47 ET
Comments: A California lawmaker has set his sights on saving “hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthy meat” from roadkill and using it to “feed those in need.”

It’s called Senate Bill 395. And it’s legislation that state Sen. Bob J. Archuleta, D-Montebello, believes will right a great wrong in the Golden State. By amending both state law and existing Fish and Game regulations, the bill would allow drivers of vehicles that fatally hit an animal to apply for a free salvage permit within 24 hours of the collision. And while existing law says you can’t harvest the thing you just killed, Archuleta’s bill would not only let you take it home for dinner — it would allow anyone else who comes across the animal to do the same.

With an estimated 20,000 deer, wild pig and elk killed each year on California roads, the bill says that amount “translates into hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthy meat that could be utilized to feed those in need.”

Of course, that got us thinking: What sort of roadkill legislation exists in other states?

As it turns out, plenty. Here’s look at some of the laws:

Oregon

Like Archuleta, state Sen. Bill Hansell had what he called an “a-ha moment” a couple of years ago when he spotted a dead deer on one of his rural district’s roads, according to a story in the Washington Post. “Could the carcass,” he wondered, “feed someone?” It could — and now, with the passage of its new law, it will. This year, Oregon became the most recent of about 20 states that let people salvage dead animals off the road and eat them for dinner. Note: The roadkill is only for human consumption, and Oregonians who pick up a carcass need to go online and apply for a free permit within 24 hours. Another note: The applicant must turn over the animal’s head and antlers to state wildlife officials within five business days, the report says. The state can then sell the antlers to collectors hoping to jazz up their living-room decor, while state examiners can test the head for chronic wasting disease.

The law also states that ”the entire carcass of the animal including gut piles must be removed from the road and road right of way during the salvage.” Only the driver of the vehicle that struck the animal is allowed to salvage the deer or elk if it’s “injured and then humanely dispatched to alleviate suffering.” Finally, “any person who salvages a deer or elk will consume the meat at their own risk.”

Oregon officials are quick to point out that salvaging roadkill is only permitted when the animal was accidentally killed. In other works, Hansell says, drivers are not allowed to “hunt with their automobiles.”

Alaska

Animals killed on the roadway belong to the state of Alaska, according to the Stone Axe Blog, a site devoted to issues around living off the land. “A person is not authorized to pick up any animal that is struck by a vehicle. Animals that are used as food (moose, caribou, etc.) are salvaged through a road kill program and given to charity groups that use the meat for food purposes.”

Colorado

According to state regulations, “Biighorn Sheep and mountain goats that are road kills will be picked up and retained by (officials). Meat may be donated according to Commission Regulation #016 (C). Head, hide, and horns may not be auctioned or bartered per Commission Regulation #018 (A), but may be loaned by a letter of authorization issued by a CPW supervisor to a school, museum or other facility receiving the items.”

Washington

In the first 12 months after legalizing the practice in 2016, Washington state issued 1,600 permits for residents to salvage roadkill. According to a report in the Seattle Times, the legislation was spawned by a conversation that wildlife commission Jay Kehne was having with some of his hunting buddies during a trip to Utah.

Kehne, from the rural outpost of Omak in the foothills of the Okanogan Highlands, said one of the guys said said, ‘’You know in Montana, it’s legal to pick up roadkill?” About the same time, the hunters drove past a cow elk lying dead on the road. “We thought, ‘Wow, we could pick that up?’ When he got home, Kehne started researching road kill salvage and found that about 20 states allowed it in some form,” the Times reported. “Montana had just set up a salvage program and officials reported few problems when Kehne called. And he did. After all, he said, ‘if you hit a deer and you’ve got a car with $5,000 damage, the least you could do is get a little meat in your refrigerator.’”

Before long, the state’s Fish and Wildlife Commission had tweaked the legislative language, and legally salvaging roadkill was now a thing.

Some rules must be followed: Scavengers are required to collect the entire dead animal “and print a free salvage permit within 24 hours that shows where the animal was found and where the meat is stored.” They also have to display the permit openly “until all meat has been consumed.” Finally, killing off a wounded animal is off a no-go. And salvaging deer is prohibited in a handful of counties that have federally protected habitat for Columbian White-Tailed deer.

North Dakota

“There are some smaller species that a Resident of North Dakota does not need a license to hunt,” according to the Stone Axe Blog, which tracks the various state laws governing roadkill salvaging. “They are considered ‘Non-game’ species, and a resident may pick them up whenever they see them. Non-residents would need the appropriate license to do so. These species include Prairie Dog, Skunk, Porcupine, Rabbits & Hares, and Ground Squirrels.”

Arizona

This state allows motorists to retrieve what they’ve killed, but only if they follow strict protocols. “A person who possesses the carcass of a big game animal pursuant to this section may place all or part of the carcass in storage . . . or may make a gift of the carcass or parts to another individual.”

Illinois

State law says that it is “legal to pick up any roadkill furbearing mammals that are in season if you have the proper hunting or trapping license and/or habitat stamp as required for each species. This includes raccoons, opossum, striped skunk, weasel, mink, muskrat, red fox, gray fox, coyote, badger, bobcat, beaver and river otter.”

Pennsylvania

In a state where more than 5,600 vehicle-deer crashes were reported in 2017, Chapter 147 of the Pennsylvania Code says if you hit a white-tailed deer (or a turkey), or find one already dead on the side of the road, you must contact your local Game Commission and request a Consumption Permit within 24 hours of taking possession of the carcass. You’ll also need to hand over any inedible parts of the animal to the Game Commission — antlers, here’s looking at you.

Radio station WESA reported that “collisions with deer occur most frequently in fall months during mating season, and they also tend to spike in the spring when young deer leave their mothers. A report from State Farm backs this up. The insurance agency in 2017 ranked Pennsylvania drivers third most likely in the nation to hit a large animal, like a deer. State Farm estimates one out of every 63 drivers in the state hit a deer this past year. Pennsylvania routinely ranks among the worst states for deer collisions in State Farm’s annual deer claim studies.”

Georgia

In Georgia, motorists may take home struck bears. And the state takes no responsibility of the salvaged bear meat makes anyone sick.

Kansas

This state’s regulations say that “No more than 5 groundhog could be possessed at any one time with a valid hunting license.”

According to the Stone Axe Blog, a site dedicated to living off the land, Florida allows motorists to possess deer, fox, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel that have been killed by a vehicle collision. “If the animal is being possessed out of season (deer), the protocol would be for the motorist to notify FWC and provide his or her contact information in case an Officer wants to inspect the animal. No other animal or bird can be possessed unless the possessor is permitted and notification has been provided to FWC.”
For a comprehensive list on which states allow roadkill to be salvaged, check out the Stone Axe Blog here (According to the Stone Axe Blog, a site dedicated to living off the land, Florida allows motorists to possess deer, fox, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel that have been killed by a vehicle collision. “If the animal is being possessed out of season (deer), the protocol would be for the motorist to notify FWC and provide his or her contact information in case an Officer wants to inspect the animal. No other animal or bird can be possessed unless the possessor is permitted and notification has been provided to FWC.”
For a comprehensive list on which states allow roadkill to be salvaged, check out the Stone Axe Blog here.According to the Stone Axe Blog, a site dedicated to living off the land, Florida allows motorists to possess deer, fox, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel that have been killed by a vehicle collision. “If the animal is being possessed out of season (deer), the protocol would be for the motorist to notify FWC and provide his or her contact information in case an Officer wants to inspect the animal. No other animal or bird can be possessed unless the possessor is permitted and notification has been provided to FWC.”
For a comprehensive list on which states allow roadkill to be salvaged, check out the Stone Axe Blog here (http://www.stoneaxeherbals.com/2016/06/here-are-roadkill-laws-in-all-50-states.html).