If you want to scoop a dead animal off the highway and bring it home for dinner, you’ll be allowed to do that in Oregon beginning Jan. 1, 2019.
But there are some rules to follow when removing a road-killed deer or elk from the pavement to pass legal muster under a 2017 law that legalized salvage.
The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted the rules during a meeting Oct. 12 in Klamath Falls.
“It’s important to note that people are eating this at their own risk,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said. “It’s up to each person to decide whether the meat is appropriate to eat."
Here’s a breakdown of nine rules to follow if you want to dine upon filet mig-roadkill, courtesy of an ODFW news release:
1. Only salvage the animals for consumption
Deer and elk accidentally stuck by a vehicle may be salvaged for consumption only. Intentionally hitting a deer or elk in order to salvage it remains unlawful. Oregon State Police could follow up if a situation appears suspicious.
2. You must complete the permit
Anyone who salvages a road-killed deer or elk must complete a free online permit within 24 hours and provide information including their name, contact info, where and when salvage occurred, species and gender of animal salvaged, and if they were the driver who struck the animal.
“The permit system is intended to track the number of animals being salvaged,” Dennehy said.
3. Head and antlers must be turned in
Antlers and head of all salvaged animals will need to be surrendered to an ODFW office within five business days of taking possession of the carcass. This rule is intended to contribute to ODFW’s surveillance program for chronic wasting disease.
“A lot of people do collect and sell antlers, and that’s not what this program is for,” Dennehy said.
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4. Remove the carcass from the road
The entire carcass of the animal including gut piles must be removed from the road and road right of way during the salvage
5. If the animal is put down for suffering, only the driver can salvage
In cases where a deer or elk is struck, injured and then put down to alleviate suffering, only the driver of the vehicle that struck the animal may salvage the carcass. Law enforcement must be immediately notified.
6. Eat at your own risk
Any person who salvages a deer or elk will consume the meat at their own risk. The state will not perform game meat inspections for any deer or elk salvaged under these rules.
7. Selling the meat is prohibited
Sale of any part of the salvaged animal is prohibited, but transfer to another person will be allowed with a written record similar to transferring game meat.
8. The state is not liable
The state of Oregon is not liable for any loss or damage arising from the recovery, possession, use, transport or consumption of deer or elk salvaged.
9. Deer and elk only
This law only applies to deer and elk — not other animals. For information related to what to do about animals like bears or mountain goats killed by vehicles, see ODFW's roadkill page.
“If this leads to animals that are accidentally stuck not being wasted, that’s a good thing and the intent of the law,” Dennehy said. “The goal is to put the meat to good use, if possible.”
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for 11 years. He is the author of the book “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.