Brickbat: Drop That Deer


Don't go scraping that opossum up from the middle of the road just yet, not if you live in California. Under state law, anyone caught taking roadkill faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. But some officials say they are concerned people may be misinterpreting a new law that took effect Jan. 3. That law calls on the Fish and Game Commission to set up a pilot program by 2022 that would allow people to take roadkill. Until that program is in place, it remains illegal to harvest dead animals from the road.

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  1. Those are the King’s deer, peasant. There are government employees paid to pick up dead animals along the road and you’re threatening their paychecks. Never mind that dead animals and the scavengers they attract are road hazards, you have no more right to remove carcasses than you do to fill potholes.

    1. But… But… But possum tastes SOOOO good!

      Leroy Troy, 5 pounds of possum in my headlights tonight

  2. If you really want to piss off the King, use a dead animal to fill a pothole.

  3. What is the rational basis for such a law? Do they give any reason why they think picking up roadkill is a bad thing?

    1. It’s the same reason as for every other piece of legislation: FYTW.

      Or, if you prefer the PG translation: We’re in charge, so we make the rules. Do not question your superiors.

    2. Discourage poaching is my guess. “Ah just found this here deer, in the middle of the road. I didn’t want it to keep suffering, so I shot it. I was just heading to the fish cop to turn it in…” That sort of thing. I thought most states had a similar law?

      Guess California wants the mountain lions to end up with all of the deer.

      1. Oh, and while Pronghorn antelope are pretty, are there even any in CA that aren’t in a zoo? Odd picture for the story.

        1. The Reason style guide prohibits photos that actually relate directly t o the article.
          On the other hand, having the deer showing their butts to the readers may be just a bit of what is now considered subtle.

          1. Pronghorn are in no way deer.

            1. Maybe they are deer that identify as pronghorn (and in drag).

            2. Well, they are all ungulates.

          2. “The Reason style guide prohibits photos that actually relate directly t o the article.”

            I’ve long suspected this to be the case.

        2. Southern CA is part of the natural range of the pronghorn.

          1. You’re right. Though this claims you can find them in SLO and eastern Monterey counties:

            I guess there are some up in the far NE of the state too, like the Plumas and Lassen area

            I had no idea.

      2. In Michigan you can keep road kill. You have to inform the King’s men when you do, but you can do it. Not sure the exact steps, since I’ve never had the urge.

        1. Yeah, many states have similar rules. You notify them in order to get a tag identifying the take as lawful. Mostly because processors/butchers will not accept it without one.

        2. Around here it’s turkeys everyplace. I’ve been wondering what to do when one of the damn (stubborn!) things trots out in front of me. Sure wouldn’t mind a nice turkey roast, even if it were a bit mangled. It won’t pay for the damage to the car, but it might be a nice moral victory at least.

      3. re: “Discourage poaching” – Unlikely. At least, not if you assume that your legislature is rational and well informed (dangerous assumptions, I know). Any game warden worth his salt can easily tell whether a deer was hit before being shot. Anyone attempting to use that excuse would be quickly caught out.

        More rational arguments against it include:
        1. People are stupid and won’t discriminate between the deer that just got hit and the opossum that’s been decaying beside the road for the past week. Easier to just ban it all on “public health” grounds.
        2. People are stupid and won’t watch for traffic while they are collecting their precious roadkill. This will lead to additional roadkill but the anti-cannibalism laws prevent us from making use of those Darwin Award winners. Easier to leave it to the Highway Department – who are also stupid but have lots of orange road cones.

        Of course, the most rational approach is to let people pay the consequences for their own actions. I believe about 1/3 of states do this or something similar.

      4. In Wisconsin you can keep any deer, black bear, or turkey that you roadkill (or someone else roadkilled). You have to call the DNR or register it online before leaving the scene. Other game species can be taken if roadkilled during the open season and taken by someone with a hunting license for the species involved.
        It used to be that a law enforcement officer had to be called to the scene to issue a tag. They moved away from that because it was considered a waste of time.
        Not all roadkill is mashed flat. Most of a deer will be usable — my mother got one that was in very good condition.

    3. It prevents poaching and circumventing hunting laws.

      Eg, my state has a law that allows you to request a salvage tag for deer hit by a car. I have a friend who has, for years gone off the road to hit deer with his truck so he can get more in his freezer. It’s never an accident with him. I stopped riding with him the first time he did it with me in the truck.

  4. Of course they have to regulate roadkill.

  5. I know most of you are city folks but geesh.

    Some states criminalized collecting road kill because “collecting road kill” was used as an excuse by hunters and people using vehicles to kill wild animals to then collect the “road kill” when it was not road kill.

    Hunting from roads is illegal in most states because others drivers tend to get hit with bullets on the open road, roads create an easier open area for a shot, and grass near roads attracts animals.

    Government owns roads, so for those reasons.

    I think the rules are becoming more lax because of the SoyBoyz who dont eat meat and less hunters in general.

    1. Has it always been this way? I seem to recall my buddy in northern Maine (a.k.a. “the county”) keeping his rifle in the back seat so that if he saw something from the highway, he could pull over and get it. Of course, that was 40 years ago; maybe different now?

      1. 40 years, it was VERY DIFFERENT. Some states might be more lax depending on overpopulation of certain animals. Commifornia seems to be leaning this way.

        I suspect there are so few hunters in Taxifornia now that a small lobbying group for this issue got it passed without anyone noticing.

  6. Collecting a bloated rotting dead animal from the shoulder of the road that has been there for 4 days is a health hazard and should be discouraged, but illegal? A freshly ran over raccoon, however, is perfectly edible, and if the fur isn’t torn to hell the pelt is probably worth $10.

    1. We have a lot of raccoons in this (urban) area. A healthy market for pelts might encourage people to cull the herd, so to speak.

      Now if we could also get a market for Iguana meat and skins going, then we’d really be on to something. Those things are everywhere.

      1. Central and South Americans eat Iguana. I haven’t tried it yet but there is a market.

        1. I wish I was in Tijuana, eating barbecued iguana.

        2. Yep, had it on my last trip to Roatan. Bland is a good word for it.

      2. Urban raccoon pelts are generally not wanted on the fur market because the milder climate does not promote heavy coat growth and the more crowded conditions leads to more wear and tear on the pelt.

        Same goes for coyote, fox and most larger fur bearers. About the only things financially worth harvesting in the urban interface are muskrat and stoat.

    2. And larger animals such as deer or elk often remain mostly or completely intact even after a fatal collision. As long as you get them to a meat locker in a timely fashion, they’re perfectly safe to eat. Considering how much damage they can do to a car, if you hit one you might as well get some good eating out of it.

      1. Seriously. I don’t think folk who live in urban areas get it. Out in deer country they have a whole segment in driver’s ed class about what to do when a deer or moose jumps out in the road….. people actually die or get seriously injured in crashes caused by swerving to avoid large animals quite frequently. Pretty much everyone I know up in northern Wisconsin has a “deer totaled my car” story.

        1. “…people actually die or get seriously injured in crashes caused by swerving to avoid large animals quite frequently…”

          Or actually hitting them. Moose, and maybe elk too, are tall enough that hitting them with a car just cuts their legs out from under them. Which leaves the rest of the 600 pounds and up body of the animal to slide over the hood, and through the windshield and cabin of the car. With frequently fatal results for the driver and passenger.

          1. Been there, done that. 20 miles from the Capitol in Augusta.

            Cow trotted out in the road in front of me, heavy traffic so I was only doing about 25. Just the same, it was going to happen no matter how hard I hit the break. I figured I was about to kill “Bessy” the family cow, but the last thing I saw as I put my head down behind the steering wheel was made me think “that’s now moo-cow, that’s a a frickin’ moose-cow!”.

            We met, she got scooped up by the front end as I jammed on the breaks, thrown up onto the hood, broke the windshield, pushed the roof back, then she rolled off. Passerby told me she got up, shook herself off and headed into the woods. The game officer who showed up tracked her for 3 hrs before figuring she was not in need of the coup-de-grace.

            I got a lesson in how auto repair works for a car that is “totalled”.

            1. What happened to preview?!?

            2. You’re lucky, as you well know. Tough, big, ornery creatures. I’m glad it turned out as well as it did.

              It’s so frustrating when you hit something with your car, and the thing doesn’t even have the common courtesy to die right there. At an old job, we had a problem with a bunch of raccoons getting in the road (and the dumpsters, naturally), getting hit, f’ing up cars’ alignments and shocks, and then slinking off in the woods.

      2. Yeah, but only the off side, the side that takes the hit is usually bloodshot something awful.

    3. Depends on what you are collecting it for. Certainly eating it wouldn’t be healthy. However, the dead rotting corpse sitting at the side of the road is itself a health hazard.

      1. There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about eating a freshly road-killed animal, at least any part of the meat that’s undamaged.

    4. Not if you cook it well enough.

  7. Don’t go scraping that opossum up from the middle of the road just yet

    What if there’s a Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road?

  8. That was the law around here for a while until someone said “If can’t harvest the deer that just wrecked my car because it belongs to the government, well then the government is responsible for the damages to my vehicle!” The state quickly said you can keep that bug game that you hit, but you so need to find a cop or warden and get a transportation permit before moving it.

  9. Hey Reason photo pickers, those pronghorn are taxonomically more closely related to giraffes, than deer.

    1. “Hey Reason photo pickers, those pronghorn are taxonomically more closely related to giraffes, than deer.”

      I wonder if giraffe taste as good then as pronghorn do? Feed probably has a lot to do with it though.

      1. Pronghorn are to this article as Reason authors are to libertarianism.

        1. +100

  10. That’s an antelope asshats.

    1. Damn, you beat me to it. “Asshats” seems remarkably fitting.

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