Roadkill salvaged for food

Wyoming Department of Transportation employees Richard Wilson and Shirley Weerhein pick up the carcass of an elk hit by a vehicle in December 2018 along Highway 191 between Camp Creek and Poison Creek. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission just approved rules to allow residents to salvage roadkill.

POWELL — Wyoming is one step closer to adding roadkill to the dinner menu.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously last month to adopt regulations that will allow motorists to collect certain species of dead wildlife from the road starting next year. Wild bison, deer, elk, pronghorn, moose and wild turkey could be on the menu for residents.

There was some hesitancy among the commission, due to the possibility a person could intentionally run down an animal for harvest.

“Do you expect problems with people taking their own truck out there just to smack one just so they can get one?” Game and Fish Commissioner Mark Jolovich, of Torrington, asked Rick King, chief game warden. “I’ve heard of some pretty unethical stuff that’s happened in my 65 years.”

King said there have been a handful of cases in the past where people have run down big game critters with a vehicle on purpose. However, “it’s been pretty few and far between and so I really don’t anticipate that to be a significant challenge,” he said. “I’m confident that this statute and other existing statutes provide plenty of coverage that, if it did occur, we’d have plenty of prosecutorial ability to address it.”

Wyoming Game and Fish officials queried two other states with roadkill harvest laws and both reported that occurrences of intentional roadkill were negligible.

The state’s new rules include some common sense restrictions for safety’s sake.

Some roadways will be off limits for collecting roadkill, including the three interstate systems in the state.

Carcasses can only be picked up from sunrise to sunset, and there will be both an app and a website on which residents can obtain a permit to collect roadkill.

The commission authorized spending about $17,000 to develop the system, which is intended to help ensure there isn’t a heavy workload placed on game wardens and law enforcement officials chasing down accidents with wildlife. The system, which will be integrated with the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s existing 511 app, can be used even when outside cell coverage; King said it works pretty “slick.”

“They’ll get an electronic authorization [to harvest roadkill] back on the app and away they go,” King said in his presentation to the commission. “So our folks shouldn’t be burdened with a big workload. And it should be really easy for folks who want to collect roadkill.”

The regulations were developed by the Game and Fish Department in cooperation with the Wyoming Transportation Commission in response to House Bill 95, which the Wyoming Legislature passed earlier this year.

With a unanimous vote, the Game and Fish Commission sent the regulations to the Legislative Service Office, where the Legislature’s Management Council will work to make sure the regulations meet the intent of the bill, said Ryan Frost of the LSO.

From there, the rules will move to the Secretary of State’s Office and then to the governor’s office for final approval.

Once the rules are signed, motorists will be able to harvest animals, but they must take the entire carcass and not just parts they want.

Once the usable parts are harvested, the carcass must be disposed of in a landfill or receptacle bound for the landfill in an effort to help control the spread of disease.

There are other rules for safe collection of animals, but don’t expect state-sponsored recipes in the near future.

“The $17,000 that you approved was not for cookbooks,” King told the commission.

The rules are expected to be finalized sometime in the coming weeks.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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