States take steps to simplify salvaging roadkill

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/31/2013

Ohio and other states are pursuing changes to rules that allow drivers to keep and eat roadkill.

In Ohio, the state’s House voted 94-1 on Wednesday, Oct. 30, to advance a bill that would lengthen the list of animals that drivers can salvage from roads in the state. Specifically, HB199 would add wild turkey, wild boar and feral hog to the list.

Ohio law now permits drivers to carry off deer for consumption.

During his floor presentation, Rep. Tony Burkley, R-Payne, playfully told lawmakers he didn’t want to get into a long discussion about the bill but he did want to provide them with “a flavor” of what it would do.

He said a constituent of Rep. Bob Hackett, R-London, brought the issue to their attention out of concern about not being able to claim a feral hog struck by vehicle.

“So off we went into the back roads of Ohio in search of a bill that would correct this injustice,” Burkley said while lawmakers chuckled in the background.

The change would require drivers to report the incident to a wildlife officer or other law enforcement officer within 24 hours. A certificate of legal ownership would then be provided.

Burkley said the bill has “many positive aspects.”

If signed into law, “we don’t have to wait days for local authorities, or buzzards, to clean up the roadway.”

Burkley’s bill also adds feral hogs to the state’s game list. The change would allow state wildlife officials to set rules for hunting season.

“It is seldom that we get to carry a bill that is fun to present and also serves a purpose that addresses a constituent request,” Burkley said.

The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Utah and Michigan lawmakers are also looking to ease rules on keeping animal carcasses.

The Wolverine State requires drivers to wait for a permit from the Department of Natural Resources before salvaging remains.

Michigan state Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, has introduced a bill that would give drivers the first crack at claiming the carcass. Claimants would only need to keep a written record of the time and place where they found the remains in case law enforcement requests the information.

The bill – SB613 – is in the Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee.

In Utah, one state lawmaker is working on a bill for the 2014 regular session that would simplify the process that allows drivers to keep their roadkill.

Utah law now permits people to take and bake animal carcass only after getting the approval of a Division of Wildlife Resources officer.

Rep. Dixon Pitcher, R-Ogden, is pushing for a change that would allow drivers to keep the carcass after police come to the scene and write up a report and issue a permit allowing the animal to be harvested.

A new law already on the books in Montana makes it easier to get permits necessary to salvage deer, elk, moose and antelope struck by vehicles. Since Oct. 1, people can go online and apply for a permit that allows them to eat the meat. The permit can be printed from their own computers.

The process is intended to be complete within 24 hours of the crash. One permit per animal is required.

Drivers still have the option of bringing the carcass to an officer or a Fish, Wildlife and Parks office during regular business hours to get a permit.

Harvesting of roadkill is supported by PETA. The animal rights group notes on its website that “if people must eat animal carcasses, roadkill is a superior option.”

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