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You Can Now Harvest Roadkill in Washington State

The Evergreen State now allows the harvest of roadkill.

Washington state recently changed its laws to allow the harvesting of roadkill, which may or may not be to the delight of some Washingtonians.

The Evergreen State is part of a slow trickle of states that are starting to adopt a... shall we say, more "libertarian" attitude toward filling the freezer from the side of the road.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the rule change in April 2016. Washingtonians can claim and take home roadkill with a salvage permit from the WDFW.

The way it works is that if a citizen unintentionally strikes an animal or finds one that has been struck and has snuffed it, they obtain the permit within 24 hours of salvaging the animal. This can be ex post facto; the WDFW merely requires a person to keep a hard copy of the permit on hand until all edible meat has been eaten.

road kill

The permit is free and can be printed from the WDFW website or obtained in a WDFW office.

Any meat unfit to eat must be disposed of in accordance with the laws of Washington state (see RCW 246-203-121) and the WDFW makes NO guarantees on the meat.

The carcass must be removed whole, and gutted and processed at home.

This applies to any game species in Washington state, except for deer in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. These counties are home to the Columbian whitetail deer, which is endangered.

Roadkill Laws Slowly Getting More Lax

Washington's relaxed roadkill law is part of a slow trend, as a slow trickle of states in recent years have changed their laws regarding harvest of vehicular venison. According to Reason, fewer than 20 states allow roadkill to be harvested by citizens, though some states mandate that fauna felled by a Ford be donated to local homeless shelters or other needy, such as Alaska.

That state, though, has been known to give game meat to people known to authorities to be amenable to consuming car-killed critters when a shelter or other foundation is not nearby or accepting donations.

Montana, according to Reason, allowed harvest of roadkill beginning on 2013, followed by Michigan in 2014 and Wisconsin in 2015. Washington state brings the total to 18 states.

Washington's law is also similar to an Idaho law passed in 2012.

Montanans have been making the most of it, too; in 2014, they harvested 100 elk, 30 moose, 5 antelope and more than 700 dead deer from the ditch. Idahoans, according to the Seattle Times have as well, as roughly 2,000 whitetail deer, 1,400 mule deer, 800 elk and more than 300 moose have been harvested since the Gem State's law took effect in 2012.

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You Can Now Harvest Roadkill in Washington State