States Are Letting People Harvest Roadkill To Keep Highways Clean, And It’s Working

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Washington and Idaho programs allowing people to collect dead animals from highways to keep roads clean and free of scavengers are both working and popular.

Wildlife officials in both states say the programs have yielded several benefits without any significant downsides, The Associated Press reports.

Idaho took the first step toward citizen roadkill-removal six years ago when the state Department of Fish and Game, in accordance with state law, began letting anyone harvest any part of an animal that was killed accidentally by a vehicle. The only animals exempted from collection are those protected under federal law.

“[Some officials] 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,” Idaho regional conservation supervisor Mark Carson told The Spokesman-Review in 2016. “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.”

Washington passed its own law more recently, taking effect July 1, 2016. It’s more restrictive, only allowing deer and elk to be harvested, but since the law was put in place at the end of 2017, 3,099 animals have been scraped off the sides of highways throughout the state.

Some Washington residents are making the most of the new opportunity.

“I can’t frickin’ believe it … The amount of time I put in hunting these things and I get four on the side of the road,” Washington hunter Tim Bento told The Seattle Times last year. “I’m like a fireman when it comes to roadkill. I got a text the other day and I was 13 minutes to the deer.”

The harvested animals are used for taxidermy, hides and other crafts aside from just food. Officials say the practice has not had any measurable negative impacts on wildlife or public health, TheAP reports.

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