Salvaging Wild Game After a Motor Vehicle Collision

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Fresh meat from a wild game animal is for many of us something that is tough to pass up. It is because of its appetizing nature that wild game is sought year after year by hunters who spend time pursuing such a feast. When hunting season rolls around, we outfit ourselves in camo and set out with our weapon of choice in order to secure some meat for the freezer. Although actually hunting wild game is a deliberate process, sometimes mere happenstance brings it into our lives in a much hastier and unexpected manner, that being as roadkill.

When you hear the word 'roadkill' you may think immediately of a dead and bloated raccoon on the side of the road. It is pretty unlikely that anyone would view that as appealing to eat, but roadkill is a term with a much broader spectrum. You see, despite that bloated raccoon being roadkill, so is every other animal that happens to die in connection with a motor vehicle, some of which can quite easily be salvaged and are actually perfectly fine to eat as long as the idea is one you personally can wrap your mind around.

We've all driven down a road somewhere that had deer crossing signs. These bear the image of a deer in movement, its position one of taking an apparent leap, quite possibly into the grill of your vehicle. It is safe to say no one wants to hit a deer due to the catastrophic damage it may cause to your vehicle as well as possibly yourself, but why add insult to injury and let the meat of that animal go to waste? Truth be told, there really is no good reason not to eat fresh roadkill from the result of a collision. Granted some meat may be damaged by the impact, but more often there will be plenty remaining that can go to good use in terms of survival and sustenance for you and your family.

Salvaging Wild Game After a Motor Vehicle Collision - GPS1504 - untitled-883.jpg
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If the possibility of retaining a deceased wild game animal that you hit will your vehicle sounds too good to be true, there is a catch that could make it so. Depending on where you live, it may actually be illegal to take this action. Although many states are hip to the idea of consuming game animals that met an untimely death via collision, some are not. In fact, the states of Alaska, California, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, and Washington do not permit the salvaging of animals that died where the rubber meets the road. Other states require things such as a salvage permit or carcass receipt and some even insist a wildlife agent inspects the animal to confirm a vehicle was the source of its demise. It is important to know your local laws in order to avoid any unwanted fines, so be sure to brush up on those that apply to you should a time come that you might actually need to know them.

When it comes to a collision involving vehicles and wildlife, the first place your mind may go is to a deer. However, there are many other animals that are involved in accidents. It could be that you hit a wild turkey, black bear, bighorn sheep, wild boar, or any other species of cervid such as elk or moose. Whatever the case, the animal does not necessarily need to go to waste when it can instead go on your plate.

Do you live in a state where the salvaging of roadkill is permitted? Have you made the best of a bad situation and consumed some yourself? Tell us about it in the comments!

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January 20, 2016  •  02:07 PM
My wife was driving home from work, a few years ago. Smacked a deer with our truck. Darned thing flipped up and over the cab...and landed in the bed! How thoughtful!
September 1, 2016  •  10:15 PM
Alaska does salvage moose kills.The trooper on scene radios for a pickup crew which generally uses a flatbed trailer with a winch to pull the remains into the trailer (moose can weigh 1000 lbs or more. The crew takes the animal from the site and it is gutted and butchered elsewhere. The meat is given to homeless shelters, native Americans, and who ever signs up for it. The accident victim is not allowed to keep the meat. I do not know if a similar plan is in effect for carbon, bear, or dear, but logically they would.
October 20, 2016  •  10:41 PM
We only salvage a deer if we are the ones to hit it or see it get hit. Here in Missouri, you have to notify the State Troopers and let them know where you hit it, if anyone was hurt and if you want to keep the deer. If you plan to take the deer to a meat locker they'll notify which ever one you say you're going use, but we always do ours at home.
February 26, 2017  •  09:51 PM
In Alaska to get on the slavage list you have to signup and be able to take any animal at any time of day. Here in the Mat-Su Valley we have killed 248 moose since July. That is a lot of moose meat?
March 30, 2017  •  10:34 PM
I certinly can not speak about all states but, I know the trend has shifted away from the "good ole days', that 264Win speaks of. In my state that was once the way. In fact, many of the road kill deer and moose, went to the county farm to be used in the county nursing home. Not any more. Today, you have to hit it yourself or, hope you happen to be in the right place at the right time or, some one who knows you and does not partake, calls you. I did grab a couple that drivers did not want back when I was on the job...but they were few and far between. So it's back into the woods....and do it the OTHER, good ole way!!
July 6, 2017  •  09:26 AM
NYS is pretty decent about this issue, only requiring that you have a carcass tag for any dead deer or bear you hit. You can also take possession of a road kill animal that someone else hits as long as you have the tag signed over to you. I keep a call roster of people who are interested in the road kill deer from accidents I respond to. I hate to see the dead critter laying by the side of the road waiting for its final trip to the DOT compost heap when someone could have made use of the meat. Usually about half the meat is still good unless the impact was at extremely high speeds,