You may not have heard, but there’s a four-year-old law in Idaho that allows residents to salvage roadkill and it’s pretty popular.
According to the roadkill salvage law, people must submit a report within 24 hours of picking an animal off the roadway, and obtain a salvage permit for it within 72 hours.
To get the permit one must visit the Idaho Fish and game website and fill out a Roadkill/Wildlife Salvage Report and then print the permit. The list of legal animals to salvage can be seen at the IDFG webpage and includes a fairly wide variety of wildlife. A roadkill can be simply reported on the site without a desire to salvage the animal.
Gregg Servheen of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Boise said, “There are lots of folks taking advantage of it all across the state in all of the regions on all of the highways. We have like 31,000 roadkill records (stored in the database). Of those, maybe we have 15 percent that are salvaged”
The most popular region for roadkill is the Panhandle where over 1,800 animals have been recovered, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
According to the IDFG more than 4,800 animals have been recovered from the state’s roadways in the 4 years since the law took effect. Included in those numbers are almost 2,000 whitetailed deer, over 1,400 mule deer, nearly 800 elk, and over 300 moose.
Since it is considered salvage, people recovering the animals can take whatever they want from the creature- as much or as little as they like. Servheen added that “It’s not a question of waste. It’s not a legal take, it was an accident take via collision”
But as hunters and outdoorsmen know all too well, the system can be taken advantage of. Poaching is a scourge to ethical hunters and wildlife biologists everywhere and it seems that this law is ripe for being abused. Mark Carson, a conservation supervisor with the Clearwater region at Lewiston sounded cautiously optimistic saying “They were concerned guys were going to be covering illegal critters and say it’s roadkill. That may be occurring some places, but it’s certainly not widespread. It puts thousands of pounds of game meat back on the table instead of on the side of the road, which is a really good thing”
One good thing about the program is certainly the information that state and local officials, and wildlife biologists will garner about where these vehicle and animal collisions take place.
Underpasses have been constructed for wildlife outside of Boise, north of Coeur d’Alene and north of Copeland in the Panhandle as protection for both wildlife and drivers. North of Moscow, a moose alert sign even flashes when an animal is sensed near U.S. Highway 95.
While this is a generally popular program and is well taken advantage of, here’s to wildlife and particularly human safety when it comes to the roads and highways in this and other states across the land. No one ever complained about not having a car/animal collision; in fact, the less, the better.