Roadkill Bill Passes Montana House
I remember asking as a kid what happened to the deer killed by cars. Would people take the deer home and eat it as if they had shot it hunting? Is there a deer removal company? Do they leave it for the other animals to eat? My questions were usually answered with a bit of laughter and an "I don't think anyone would want to eat roadkill!" At the time, it was not legal to eat roadkill, but times are a changing!
Steve Lavin, a Republican Representative of Kalispell, sponsored Bill 247 that allows the harvesting and consumption of deer, elk, moose and antelope that are killed by vehicles on Montana roads. The bill has passed the Montana House with a whopping 95-3 vote! Next, the bill will go to the Senate for a vote and if passed there it will go to Governor Steve Bullock to sign it into law.
Opponents of the bill argued the sanitary concerns involved with consuming road kill. Jennifer Pomichowski, a Democratic Representative of Bozeman, argued before Congress,
I understand the problem, I don't like wasting and I really hate seeing the animals on the side of the road but I think I would hate even more for someone to be picking up the animals and eating the roadkill."
Lavin responded with,
People can look. You can look at an animal and see whether it's good or not. It's pretty simple. I think you have a higher chance of finding E. coli in lettuce than having issues with this meat as long as you use your common sense."
I personally agree with Lavin and that if someone has the means to harvest an animal killed by a vehicle that they should. However, I am one of the few Montanans not educated much beyond the grocery store meat department and therefore I do not believe I could simply look at an animal and know if it is safe to eat. I do have a few ideas for novices like me though.
To fight the health concerns, people could report when an animal was struck to the Montana Highway Patrol and a passerby could then contact the highway patrol to get an estimate of how long it's been on the road. In the winter, I'm assuming the animals would keep for a reasonable amount of time.
Another idea is inventing roadkill tags that will inform a passerby of time struck, type of vehicle that hit it, and estimated speed! Will bumpers be modified to effectively kill and conserve the animal's meat at the same time? Maybe local chefs could host a "Know Your Roadkill" cooking class! I just hope to not see it on a restaurant menu any time soon!