Montana Legalizes Salvaging Roadkill

Let’s say you’re driving on the road to the Catskills and accidentally strike an animal or find a dead deer by the side of the road. What would you do? When you grow up in New York City, the last thing on your mind would be to take it away and skin it or eat it. But in Montana, there is a much different perspective. The legislature has just passed a bill that legalizes the salvage of certain types of roadkill.

According to the government website Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the state will now permit the  “salvage” of deer, elk, moose, and antelope killed as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle.  This particular statute had me thinking of the Necromongers in “The Chronicles of Riddick” where “you keep what you kill.” Before anyone gets too carried away, the bill apparently only permits the salvage of deer, elk, moose and antelope and nothing else.

The Montana state government’s goal is to prevent the waste of some perfectly good meat. Several states have already passed roadkill laws, such as Alaska, Colorado, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia and others. And if you’re wondering one can do with a carcass, you may want to attend the great RoadKill CookOff in West Virginia. Yummy!

RoadKill Law Procedure

So what do you do if you find a dead deer on the side of a Montana road? The state of Montana will require a “salvage permit” in order to do so. However, if you want to get an instant salvage permit, the site informs you that permits will be made available upon request and at no cost by either requesting one directly from a page on the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website or from law enforcement officers on the scene of collision. So if you’re driving in Montana and low on food, you’ll certainly want to make sure you’ve got a data plan and a connection available with that smartphone you have with you.

What if you don’t have an Internet or mobile phone connection? The state of Montana is way ahead of the big game. You’ll have 24 hours after you’ve possessed the salvaged wildlife to obtain a salvage permit.

What if you’ve been in a collision directly with an animal? You’ll probably want to call police, especially since these animals are quite large. This is not the same as an incident involving a rabbit. Police officers arriving on the scene will have the ability to create a report and process a salvage permit on the spot and at no cost.

Now what are you required to do if you do decide to salvage wildlife you find lying dead on the side of the road? Apparently it’s an all or nothing affair. Unless the animal is intact, you may want to think twice about trying to stuff that moose in the back seat or the trunk of your car. Once you decide to salvage an animal, you must remove the entire animal from where it’s found. You may not leave body parts or internal organs (“viscera”) behind. It’s a violation of Montana state law and for good reason. Not only does the government not want you to leave a disgusting mess, but it could attract other wildlife to scavenge. Those animals will check out the goods and then potentially subject themselves to a higher likelihood of becoming roadkill.

I live in New York City at present, a place where both the old and new mayor support the banning of large soda drinks. I wonder how they feel about roadkill.

Michael M. Wechsler, Esq. – has written posts on The Law Professor.

Michael M. Wechsler, Esq.

Internet / Mobile entrepreneur since 1989, Intellectual Property attorney since the mid 1990s, former in-house counsel at iVillage.com, Senior Vice President of Business Strategy at Zedge, Co-Founder of the IDT Internet Mobile Group, E-Discovery expert and legal consultant with Kroll Ontrack, and owner and operator of TheLaw.com