By CODIE WYERS/Montana State News
Those dead deer we see so often on the road side could end up on someone’s dinner table, if a state lawmaker has his way.
House Bill 247 would allow Montana residents to salvage an animal for food that they have hit with their vehicle. The animals allowed to be salvaged would be deer, elk, antelope and moose. Not only can the meat be taken, but also the antlers.
Each state has their own specific laws pertaining to roadkill. In some states it’s legal to take a roadkilled animal home to eat if you have a special permit. But not in Montana. The Department of Transportation is in charge of picking up roadkill and disposing of it properly. However, the Department of Transportation may not be in charge of roadkill for much longer.
This bill has its supporters and opponents. There are concerns that this bill will be taken advantage of – that people may hit an animal on purpose so they can have food for their freezer or hit an animal for the sole purpose for taking its antlers.
Another issue surrounding this bill is that poaching will become more difficult to investigate. If the bill is passed it would be hard to determine if someone took a pair of antlers fairly.
Some of the pros of this bill are that perfectly salvageable meat would not go to waste on the side of the road. Department of Transportation would save time and money and people who are hard up for food have another option. Currently there are a few organizations that use salvageable roadkill to feed the hungry, such as the Veterans Food Pantry in Kalispell, Montana.
If passed, HB 247 would enable a person who hits an animal or sees a hit animal on the side of the road to get a permit them to salvage the animal for meat.
– Edited by Alyssa Burzynski