Pinedale Online

Cleaning Up on Roadkill: Washington Residents Take 1,600 Deer and Elk Home in Law’s First Year

The state's Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued 1,600 permits allowing the salvage of deer and elk hit by cars, and residents cleaned up.

In the first year of a brand new law designed to let people salvage accidental roadkill from Washington's many roads and highways, residents of the Evergeen State have being reaping a harvest of plenty.

With some 1,600 permits applied for and granted, deer and elk in the great state of Washington have been disappearing from the road sides to become meals instead of fodder for the local landfill.

WDFW Commissioner Jay Kehne, said:

"It's just a no-brainer ... you don't have to send people on road crews to clear the highways so much, that meat doesn't go to waste. 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."

And now people are taking proper advantage of the new law. Here's an infographic showing the regions where animals have been salvaged.

The process is pretty easy. Salvagers must take the entire dead animal, and print a free salvage permit within the first 24 hours that shows where the elk or deer was found and where that meat is now stored.

Salvagers must display their permit until all that meat has been eaten. Dispatching wounded animals is completely prohibited and should be left to authorities.  A permit can be obtained on the WDFW website.

North Dakota State University professor and food safety expert Julie Garden-Robinson said,

"If you hit the deer and you can immediately harvest it, I wouldn't have very many concerns. If you're not sure how long ago the animal was killed, it's pretty hard to gauge the safety, because temperature is the worst enemy to any protein food."

Animals hit in the fall or winter have the best chance to last until salvagers can reach them.

Cover photo via Pinedale Online