Roadkill for dinner? New Oregon law allows harvesting

ODOT concerned about highway dangers

Roadkill for dinner

BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding that new law doesn't take effect likely until 2019)

A bill recently signed into law in Oregon allows drivers who crash into deer and elk on the road to harvest the animals' meat for food.

It's not as rare as you might think.

About 20 other states also let people take meat from animals killed by vehicles.  Advocates say roadkill can be high-quality, grass-fed grub.

Bill Littlefield, the Bend chapter president for the Oregon Hunters Association, thinks it's a good idea,

"Now you can salvage the animal, all the usable parts of the meat," Littlefield said.

And there is a lot of meat to go around.

"A typical harvest of a bull elk would be 325 pounds of meat," he said. "Well, if it got hit by a car, you might damage 30 pounds of it, but you still have 300 pounds of meat," 

Washington state began allowing the salvaging of deer and elk carcasses a year ago.

In Pennsylvania, people can take deer or turkeys that are killed on the road if they report the incidents to the state Game Commission within 24 hours.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown signed the roadkill measure with little fanfare last week after lawmakers passed it without a single "nay" vote.

ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy in Bend said Thursday the agency would recommend not stopping on a road to pick up roadkill. He cited the dangers of doing so on busy roads like U.S. Highway 97.

"We live in what we consider a deer and elk hot spot, and there's a lot of deer that travel over the highway," Murphy explained. 

"And what I would like motorists to do is not stop in the road to pick up a dead carcass. It's not a good idea," he added.

The new law doesn't take affect right away. In face, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has until Jan. 1, 2019 to set in place rules for permits that will hopefully deter poachers.

One issue some people worry about is the taste, but Littlefield from the OHA said it's not a problem,

"They say it's from adrenaline, but normally when you harvest an animal in the wild, they always have adrenaline, and it doesn't affect the meat," he said. 

While it might take a while to get used to, some people say it doesn't bother them at all, including Bend resident Richard Davidovich.

"It's edible food, I would take it and eat it. I would throw it in the back of my truck in a heartbeat," he said. 

It’s also the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll: Would you eat roadkill? Find the poll halfway down the right side of our home page.

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