Food Freedom

It's Roadkill Season, and That Tasty Carcass Isn't Getting Any Deader

New laws allow Americans to belly up to the asphalt buffet.


Across much of America, spring heralds the arrival of flora, Cadbury Crème Eggs, baseball, halter tops, and the rotting carcasses of dead animals along the nation's roadsides. Yes, folks, it's roadkill season.

Colorado officials say thousands of deer were killed in vehicular accidents in the state last year. Missouri officials are busy stepping up their response to roadkill. And in Michigan, officials in sparsely populated Isabella County say they received nearly 900 calls to report dead deer along county roadsides last year.

These officials are concerned about roadkill because the millions of dead animals scattered across America's highways every year pose a deadly hazard not just for drivers but also for scavenging animals that prowl roadways in search of an easy meal. Roadkill begets vehicular accidents and more roadkill.

There's an easy solution to this problem: eat roadkill. Demand certainly exists. Bizarrely, though, many states prohibit the practice. In fact, as I detail in my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, nearly half of U.S. states prohibit harvesting roadkill. Nevada, for example, conflates roadkill harvesters with poachers. Last year, a Louisiana man faced a fine of up to $750 and up to a month in jail for harvesting a dead fawn.

But help is on the way. Oregon's roadkill law, which I discussed in an earlier column, was adopted in 2017 and took effect this January. Subject to certain conditions, the law allows anyone who obtains a permit to harvest a deer or elk, which a person can eat, share, or give away. (Sorry, no skunk meat; though it's fine to harvest stink steaks in Idaho.)

The Oregon law has proven popular but—contrary to the imaginative concerns of some critics—not too popular. So far, the state has issued more than 200 cost-free roadkill-harvesting permits issued since the beginning of this year.

Roadkill is gaining acceptance in more and more legislatures. For example, a California bill introduced this session would legalize the harvesting of roadkill in that state.

So just who opposes efforts to harvest roadkill? An NBC News report last month on the loosening of roadkill laws cites folks who "worry that legalization efforts could lead to over-eager drivers striking down animals just to get a free steak."

"Our concern really is where people might intentionally hit animals for trophy or food," says John Griffin, senior director of urban wildlife programs with the Humane Society of the United States. "Like an elk or something large. It's incredibly dangerous. For both species."

Such fears are not exactly rational. Consider that hunting animals (e.g., with a firearm) is legal in some form or other in all fifty states. A hunting permit allowing you to shoot and kill Griffin's hypothetical elk—an animal that could weigh 900 lbs.—might cost you a few hundred dollars, depending on the state. That's a lot less than your funeral would cost, or—if you're somehow both stupid enough and lucky enough to survive an intentional vehicular collision with a 900 lb. animal—the cost of replacing the car or truck you destroyed when you collided with said elk.

In short, legalizing the harvesting of roadkill is probably no more likely to encourage road-rage hunting than moving deer crossing signs to areas with crosswalks is likely to reduce deer vehicular deaths.

Legalizing roadkill salvage is a win for everyone and everything involved. As I told Atlas Obscura last year, it's "a way to get people the protein they want and need and to cut down on food waste and dangerous highways."

Oregon State Sen. Bill Hansell, a Republican who sponsored his state's law, says support for legalizing roadkill harvesting transcends not just state borders but also the partisan divide gripping our nation.

"It stretched the political gamut," Hansell told the Statesman Journal. "You had liberal Vermont to conservative Wyoming." To Hansell's point, both hunters and PETA are also keen on the policy.

If anything can unite a divided America, maybe it's roadkill.

NEXT: The Telegraph Was America's First Singularity

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  1. Honey, I’m home. What’s for dinner?

    1. Possum, possumibly, if’n ah ken git all o’ that them thar ground-in gravel outta thar…

    2. Roadkill Helper.

  2. “Our concern really is where people might intentionally hit animals for trophy or food,” says John Griffin

    What if that animal is orange? Asking for a friend.

  3. OT:
    Bosa got clued on on San Francisco ‘tolerance’:

    “NFL draft: Nick Bosa deleted pro-Trump tweets because he ‘might end up in San Francisco'”
    ” [Bosa is] also more politically minded. Last year he seemed to delight in posting political takes, including his support for President Trump, on Twitter and needling dissenters.
    As the combine drew near, though, his online behavior grew increasingly bland. I asked why he seemed to abandon something he had previously embraced.
    “I had to,” he says. “There is a chance I might end up in San Francisco.””

  4. It’s hilarious how almost the entire “mainstream” media is completely ignoring the fact that Catherine Pugh, the corrupt mayor of the corrupt city of Baltimore is fleeing the federal authorities for tax scams (and probably other crimes as well) and nobody has any idea where the hell she even is.

    1. Maybe the dingoes ate your baby.

      1. I don’t know what that means.

        Apparently Baltimore has no 25th amendment type law to remove her, so in theory Baltimore could be stuck with a missing mayor on the lam for the next year and a half, ROFLMAO.

        My tip to the feds: check the secret underground bunker in Block Yomomma’s lavish Kalorama mansion. I wouldn’t put it past him to harbor one of his soul sisters as a fugitive.

        1. “Maybe the dingoes ate your baby.”

          “I don’t know what that means”, either.

          For me personally, it was the dingleberries that ate my baby! The dingleberries road-killed my baby, maybe deliberately, maybe not…
          I COULD explain to you (as you would, to a child), but trust me, you do NOT want to know!!! TMI!!! Don’t ask!!!

    2. The Washington Post said feds are investigating a children’s book deal she made. Why would the feds worry about a children’s book?

      1. Vox says:

        This all started with “Healthy Holly,” a children’s book about a young black girl who promotes self-improvement. Holly is the ideal kid: She exercises regularly and eats her veggie and fruits. She’s the main character of three books by Pugh: Healthy Holly: Exercising is Fun!, Healthy Holly: Fruits Come In Colors Like The Rainbow, and Healthy Holly: A Healthy Start for Herbie.

        Pugh said she had the idea to write the series about a decade ago, when she was still a Democratic state senator, in order to encourage healthier lifestyles for children, according to the New York Times.

        That sounds innocent enough. Wait a minute. Let me look at the e-book version online. Yeah, this book looks fine. “Vegetables are good to eat.” … “I love cucumbers.” … ummm … Did you guys see that pic on page 56?

        Houston, we have a problem.

    3. But they know exactly where she is. The “she’s missing” story was known to be false a day before your post

      1. Bullshit, you’re a liar. Nobody knows where the hell she is.

  5. Let’s Take another Chain meant for The Federal Government and wrap it Around Our Necks until we all Scream for Death.

  6. “A hunting permit allowing you to shoot and kill Griffin’s hypothetical elk—an animal that could weigh 900 lbs.—might cost you a few hundred dollars, depending on the state.”

    Just because you can buy a permit if you win the lottery doesn’t mean you’ll win the lottery. I’ve met people who have applied for years and never won the lottery–while other well connected people seem to win the lottery year after year.

    And I’m not sure people purposely driving their trucks into a 900 lbs. elk is the concern so much as people accounting for how they acquired the carcass after the fact.

    Game Warden: “Nice elk you got there. Do you have a permit?”

    The Dude: “No, but I found it by the side of the road. Someone hit it. I just put it out of its misery”.

    Regardless of what we think of licensing hunts, poaching is already an issue, and this probably would provide cover for it.

    1. The Dude: “No, but I found it by the side of the road. Someone hit it. I just put it out of its misery”.

      “I was taught that the finishing shot goes in the lungs, why do you ask? And yes, I do believe this elk was hit by a new sort of “ghost vehicle” that kills without breaking bones or any bruising at all”

      Unless you are a poacher that can consistently nail shots in the back of the head, this is a situation unlikely to come up as any game warden worth anything isn’t going to fall for it. *Proving* a crime might be more difficult, but I don’t think game wardens are idiots.

    2. Many states have over the counter elk tags, no lottery needed. I have lived in Alaska, Idaho and Montana and they all have meat salvage laws similar to Oregon’s (in fact in Alaska you can actually register with the state and they’ll call you when an animal is hit so you can harvest the meat). I actually hit a deer three years ago and salvaged the meat. Half of it wasn’t any good because when you hit a deer at 70 mph with a Jeep liberty it tends to be damaged. I had $2500 worth of damage and all I got out of it was about 40 lbs of venison. Not what I call a fair trade but at least half the deer didn’t go to waste.

  7. Ever see a Semi plow into a herd of elk?

    1. I was following that story. From what I can tell, Oliver North was on the wrong side of that. It looks like he was getting paid a ridiculous amount of money to make pro-gun rights shows that somehow never got made. When the NRA started asking about the billing, North came back with allegations of his own–which look to be baloney. I’m not as a big a fan of the NRA as I am of gun rights, but it looks like the NRA wins by getting rid of North as president. Regardless, it doesn’t have anything to do with anything gun activists have done–far as I can tell. Looks more like Oli shot himself in the foot again.

      P.S. I’ve never been a fan of Oliver North. Because I’m no fan of the Sandinistas doesn’t mean we have to be . . .

      P.P.S. I’m also no fan of Sandinista!!

      1. Hey Ken take it easy, SOME of us understand that the idea that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is full of Oliver North byproducts… Yes I agree, that Oliver North makes my hackles heckle me, does NOT mean that gun rights (right to self-defense) is bad!!! IMHO!!!

        On the other hand, I do understand that you, Ken, have been known to breathe oxygen! Adolf Hitler breathed oxygen!!! You are just like Hitler!!! So I am NOT going to listen to a DAMNED thing you say!!! Nah-wah-bah-wah, not listening!!!

        1. You know who else was a gun owner?


            “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA — ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.”

            ― Heinrich Himmler

      2. Sandanista! has an EP worth of good songs on its 6 LP sides.

          1. It’s a great track.

            Only one on the record–out of 36 tracks.

            . . . and it’s a cover, a pretty faithful cover, too.


    2. The New York attorney general just announced that they’re launching an investigation of the NRA following this story.

      The NRA is based in Virginia. Why is the New York attorney general have the authority to investigate the NRA?

      I don’t know. How ’bout, “Fuck you, that’s why.”?

      1. The NRA is chartered in NY State. Back when it was founded by Yankee officers who, despite their relatively recent victory, were ashamed of the piss poor rifle skills of their slaves cannon-fodder conscripts.

        1. Chartered? What difference does that make?

          The NRA is headquartered in Virginia. Did the offense occur in Virginia or New York?

          This might look to me like when New York decided to go after the oil companies for global warming, but at least there’s some precedence about New York state going after people for allegedly perpetrating crimes against investors on Wall Street–which is in New York. On what basis does the New York state attorney general have jurisdiction over private charities headquartered in Virginia? I might understand if the U.S. Attorney’s office in the southern district of New York went after them, but the attorney general of the state of New York is just trying to get his name in the news to make a career for himself. I see no reason why New York state should have any claim to jurisdiction in this case.

          If there were an extradition hearing for La Pierre or North from Virginia to New York state, how would they justify their jurisdiction? Are the Virginia state troopers about to execute a search warrant issued by a court in New York state? This goofball attorney general is just trying to get attention. He probably just wants to be known in progressive circles as the guy that went after the NRA.

          1. Considering that New York is being sued by the NRA over their unconstitutional letter to finance companies that support the NRA, threatening then with prosecution (a case they likely will lose if it makes it all the way to the USSC) then this investigation could easily be ruled as malicious. That would be one of the angles I’d seek as the NRA attorney.

  8. I understand why some people might prefer to run down an elk rather than obtain a hunting licence and shoot one. First off, some people have an irrational fear of guns. Furthermore, there is nothing quite like staring an elk in the eyes from behind the wheel of your pickup truck on a lonely country road as it speeds towards you trying to maintain control of its motorcycle.

    1. Well, you and I both know darned well, WHO it is (Government Almighty maybe?) that is trying to wrest away control of that mo-bike, away from the innocent elk, as it is “…trying to maintain control of its motorcycle…” as it comes careening towards you!!!

      Methinks it has to do with Y2K!!!

      Now I the SQRLSY One am actually John Kerry (I trust you not to tell anyone, ‘cause I observed y’all pinky-swearing not to, and breaking my trust would be a NAP violation, and I know y’all are all good Libertarians).

      Anyway, after I served in ‘Nam on that “swift boat”, the CIA implanted a radio bug in one of my molars, in 1976, to try and make sure I didn’t blab too much about all the top-secret things I did over there. They thought I didn’t know about this “CIA mole”, but I did.

      Did y’all know that a “CIA mole” is a molar implant, made out of 6.02 X 10-to-the 23d-power atoms of unobtanium? Only VERY important people (like me) are important enough to get one of these “CIA moles” implanted in our teeth… People like MEEE, unlike you common low scum-dogs, ya know…

      Well anyway, from 1976 all the way to 2000, for 24 long-long years, I searched high and low for a dentist to take out my “CIA mole”, and they ALL denied me; they ALL denied that I had one!!! Simply ‘cause they ALL are owned by Government Almighty, what with this licensing thing!

      The story DOES have a good ending though… At Y2K rollover, the micro-chip in my “CIA mole” stopped working!!! I have been free for 18 years now!!!

      1. Sure you are, newbie, until a certain Presbyterian finds you.

  9. John Griffin, senior director of urban wildlife programs with the Humane Society of the United States.

    The HSUS is a radical animal rights organization. They’re as, if not more extreme as PETA , only their tactics differ. They’d criminalize fishing, meat-eating, animal research, horseback riding and pet ownership if they could.

    HSUS is profoundly anti-human.

    1. “HSUS is profoundly anti-human.”

      So then does HSUS, or does HSUS not, bless the eating of human meat? Human-riding, human-leather-wearing, etc.?

      Because I as a human or self-declared human? I feel pretty severely ridden (and put away wet to boot!) by Government Almighty!!!

  10. Hey, kids! Is you father some right-wing fanatic who doesn’t approve hormone therapy so you can be more like another sex? Canadian judges will let you get the therapy anyway.

    And does Dad keep whining about this to right-wing publications? Does he show you a video questioning your choice of sex? Don’t worry, Dad is in the wrong – he has practiced “family violence” and will be ordered not to discuss your case in public.

  11. I’m not sure what Pennsylvania’s official stand is on the issue, but a friend of mine hit a deer one night near a township park. Cops arrived, assessed the situation, and were happy to let him keep it.

    When another friend showed up with a flatbed tow truck (the car’s radiator was another casualty of the encounter), they found a five gallon beer ball under a tarp on the back of the truck. Apparently a home behind the gas station had been hosting an underage party that got raided, and the host had stashed the ball in the nearest off-property hiding place. Not exactly a premium brand, but my friend had basically gotten manna from heaven to offset his repairs.

  12. Vermont liberals and Wyoming conservatives are a surprisingly similar group.

  13. Growing up in the country, I’ve eaten road kill. It’s not even considered unusual in rural areas. In Michigan it’s considered a sort of consolation prize for having your car totaled.

    But normally you don’t eat road kill unless you actually saw it get hit, or it was still twitching when you arrived. It spoils fast, you know, especially if the intestines bust.

  14. […] Source: It’s Roadkill Season, and That Tasty Carcass Isn’t Getting Any Deader – […]

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