Permit required to salvage vehicle-killed deer, elk, moose and antelope

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Recently during one of my many adventures here in our great state of Montana, I overheard a conversation at the next table over coffee from a few that weren’t from here complaining about how terrible and wasteful it was to just leave deer or elk along side the road to rot after being hit by a car.

Me, always seeming to be my insufferable self perked up and mentioned that here in Montana, we passed a law that seeks prevent much of the so-called waste associated with road kills.

I don’t know where these guys were from, but they seemed somewhat surprised that we had this sort of law.

With so many people moving here, and buying up so much recently unused property, the deer have got to have some place to go right? What better place to go than the highway. I once counted 16 road kills in at least the 15 or so miles it takes to get from Hamilton to Darby.

I’ve never collected a road kill. Any time I’ve ever hit a deer or a moose, I was always more concerned about being on the phone with my insurance company or calling for a tow than to be too concerned about collecting the kill.

I’m not sure just exactly how they do it all in other states, but here’s the skinny on how we do it in Montana.

In 2013, the Montana State Legislature passed a bill that allows for the salvage of deer, elk, moose, and antelope killed as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle.

Only deer, elk, moose, and antelope killed in a vehicle collision can be legally salvaged (MCA 87-3-145).

A person may pick up an animal that he/she did not hit. The process is the same and he/she must obtain a salvage permit.

Anyone who receives a permit and salvages a road-killed deer, elk, moose, or antelope is required to remove the entire animal from where it is found. Parts or viscera cannot be left at the site. To do so is a violation of state law and would encourage other wildlife to scavenge in a place that would put them at risk of also being hit.

Anyone wanting to salvage a road-killed deer, elk, moose are antelope must obtain a Vehicle-Killed Wildlife Salvage Permit. These are available at no cost and must be obtained within 24 hours of the time a person takes an animal into their possession. Permits are available either through law enforcement officers on the scene of collisions or online on the FWP website.

As a reminder, any salvaged animal must be removed in its entirety from the roadway by the permittee. The animal may be field dressed before it leaves the area but entrails or any other parts of the animal carcass must be removed from site to prevent attracting scavengers and predators.

Other things to keep in mind if salvaging a vehicle-killer animal:

Road-killed animals may not be tagged and possessed with carcass tags issued for the purpose of hunting.

Any person who is picking up an animal to be salvaged must comply with all highway rules and regulations while removing the animal. Vehicles shall be parked off the roadway and out of the line of traffic. The permittee acknowledges that collecting vehicle-killed animals on state highways is inherently dangerous and is undertaken at the permitee’s own risk.

A person may not kill an injured or wounded animal that they encounter for the purpose of salvage. A law enforcement officer may, however, when on the scene of a collision, kill an animal injured in the collision and that animal may be taken for salvage.

Meat rendered from salvaged animals must be used for human consumption. It may not be used for bait or other purposes.

Meat rendered from salvaged animals may not be sold.

Any meat that is unfit for human consumption or unusable animal parts must be disposed of at a legal disposal site. It is unlawful to dispose of animal carcasses or parts in or upon any highway, road, street, or alley or upon public property. It is also illegal to dispose carcasses or parts within 200 yards of a public highway, road street or alley or public property.

For complete information, visit FWP’s website fwp.mt.gov/buyandapply/vehiclekilledsalvagepermit.

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