Motorists will be allowed to take dead deer and elk from grille to grill beginning New Year’s Day when Oregon’s roadkill salvage program goes live.
Beginning Tuesday, free online permits will be available for those looking to salvage a deer or elk killed or mortally wounded from an accidental vehicle collision, joining skunks, possums and other unprotected mammals on the list of legal meals under wheels.
“We definitely have a lot of interest,” said Michelle Dennehy, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The state of Washington issues more than 1,000 such permits annually, so ODFW biologists expect to be busy right away.
Permits and a laundry list of program facts will be available at odfw.com/roadkill.
But don’t download a permit to keep in the glove box. Because the permits require when and where the tagged carcass was hit, as well as what species and sex, permits need to be filled out post-salvage and within 24 hours, Dennehy said.
“You can’t carry one in expectation of using it,” Dennehy said.
Regardless of species, animals may be salvaged only for personal consumption and all heads must be checked in at a local ODFW office by appointment within five business days of the collision.
Also, carcasses are available at a first-come, first-served basis, because those who actually hit the animal don’t get first dibs on the meat. However, another state law allows only the driver to shoot a deer or elk wounded in a collision, so only the driver can keep the carcass of an animal that gets shot after a collision.
In any cases involving the shooting of wounded animals, Oregon State Police must be notified immediately.
Meat can be exchanged with others but not sold.
The Oregon Department of Transportation reports it receives about 6,000 reports of road-killed deer and elk annually.
For years, Oregon has swerved around similar laws in other states that allow road-kill salvage, largely to discourage people from deliberately hitting deer or elk just for the meat and/or antlers.
But state Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, introduced Senate Bill 372 calling for the program, and he insisted that he did not think allowing Oregonians to salvage roadkill would lead to intentional dent-to-dine on Oregon roadways.
Hansell shepherded it through the 2017 Oregon Legislature, earning himself the moniker of “Roadkill Bill” Hansell along the way. Its passage set the table for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt specific rules to implement the program, and the commission did so last June.