South Dakota bill seeks to speed removal of roadkill

| 2/22/2008

Concerns about the amount of time it takes to remove roadkill along South Dakota roadways has led the state’s Senate to pass a bill intended to speed up the process.

The Senate voted 25-10 to approve a bill that would give state officials four days to clear dead wildlife, namely deer, from roadsides. The House previously approved a similar version by unanimous consent.

The state contracts with people who scrape up animal carcasses. The only exception is in the northwestern part of the state where the South Dakota Department of Transportation collects them.

Rep. Dale Hargens, D-Miller, said he introduced the bill because of complaints he’s received from constituents. He’s hopeful the time limit will spur quicker pickup.

“Our mountain lions are not doing a good enough job of getting the deer off the highway. And, quite frankly, neither are the contractors we have hired,” Hargens told House lawmakers before the floor vote.

The bill – HB1293 – would require the terms of agreements with contractors to state that dead deer must be removed from state highways within 96 hours. Reports about dead animals can be turned into the Game, Fish and Parks Department or state DOT.

The state pays $380,000 annually to have dead animals picked up from roadsides, The Associated Press reported. People who are hired to remove roadkill are required to check their routes as much as three times a week.

Hargens’ bill would mandate contracts be rewritten to require all routes be checked for dead animals at least twice weekly.

The measure has been sent to a conference committee made up of select members from the House and Senate to work out differences in the versions approved by the chambers. The Senate version would include prompt roadkill retrieval from county highways.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Dakota in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor