(CBS4) – The Wyoming governor signed a bill earlier this month that would require state highway and wildlife agencies to establish rules for processing animals killed for consumption by motorists.
According to an article in the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon’s policy includes guidelines for harvesting “road kill,” a term commonly used to describe wildlife that has been fatally struck by vehicles on roads.
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It’s an activity that is already legal in Colorado and about half of the states in the country.
“We are approaching the time of year in which the animals will migrate quite a long way.” Jason Clay of Colorado Parks and Wildlife told CBS4, “In general, they move from the lower elevations where they hibernate to higher elevations for the summer. Although wildlife underpasses and overpasses are enormous, there are still high numbers of street kills each year. “
In Colorado, 522 animals were reported to the Colorado Department of Transportation as street killers in 2020. June and July were by far the worst months of the year – a total of 175 deer died as a result of collisions with vehicle traffic.
Wyoming Department of Transportation chief engineer, Mark Gillett, reports an average of 3,000 wildlife vehicle collision reports each year.
“Montana has received an average of 1,000 salvage permits a year,” Wyoming Game ranger and fish chief Rick King told the Jackson Hole Daily.
Colorado travelers who fatally strike an animal or come across a recently killed carcass can process the edible meat immediately. However, in accordance with CPW regulations (Article X, No. 106), you must purchase a permit or a street kill label within 48 hours of taking possession of the animal.
“The permits are good in that they allow the resource to be used instead of the meat to be wasted,” CPWs Clay clarified, “and a way for people to get food when it can be saved.”
Getting a roadkill for a trophy or other marketable exploit is subject to different rules.
Wyoming authorities have attempted to legalize roadkill harvesting in the past and remain somewhat skeptical. Officials told the Jackson Hole Daily the new rules could limit crops to hours of daylight to help keep motorists safe. There is also concern that some drivers may purposely hit trophy animals in the form of poaching.
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Current Wyoming regulations state, “If the laws were more liberal, a person who poached a large game could claim I found it or it was a street murder.”
WYDOT’s Gillett went so far as to voice his concern about government personnel who are tasked with keeping the highways clean: “I don’t want anyone chasing us to get their animals back.”
Grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats are unlikely to be made available in the new harvest rules.
Wyoming officials plan to submit a draft of the new guidelines by July.
Durango-resident Matt Kenna told the Durango Herald in 2010 that he processed 150 pounds of meat from a cow’s elk and saved hundreds of dollars.
“Everyone realizes what good meat it is, how valuable it is,” he said. “I really only make the best of a bad situation.”
Colorado tags can be obtained by contacting CPW or the Colorado State Patrol.
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