Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Oregonians Rejoice! You Can Now (Legally) Salvage Roadkill for Food

A new year brings new opportunities. And for Oregon residents, 2019 brings the opportunity to salvage deer, elk, and other animals slaughtered by automobiles, as long as that animal was hit on accident and as long as you intend to eat the meat.

Oh, and you'll need a permit as well.

This Is Not Florida -- There Are Rules

Lest you think Oregonians can now drive about willy-nilly, scooping up roadkill left and right, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission (ODFW) set some pretty strict salvaging standards:

  • Only deer and elk accidentally struck by a vehicle may be salvaged -- intentionally hitting a deer or elk for salvaging remains illegal;
  • You gotta get the entire carcass of the animal off the road and right of way, "including gut piles";
  • Roadkill must be salvaged for human consumption only;
  • Any person can salvage a deer or elk killed by a vehicle, but "only the driver of the vehicle that struck the animal may salvage an animal in cases where a deer or elk is struck, injured, and then humanely dispatched to alleviate suffering" (and you gotta notify law enforcement);
  • You can't keep the antlers and head of salvaged animals -- those need to be surrendered to an ODFW office within 5 business days of taking possession of the carcass;
  • You consume salvaged meat at your own risk (no game meat inspections for you), and the state is "not liable for any loss or damage arising from the recovery, possession, use, transport or consumption of deer or elk salvaged"; and, finally,
  • You can't sell any part of the salvaged animal, but you can transfer it to another person "with a written record similar to transferring game meat."

Roadkill -- It's What's for Dinner

There are also some restrictions regarding what species may be salvaged for your evening spread. The new statute only applies to deer, elk, and unprotected animals. So your cougars, bears, pronghorns, bighorn sheep, or Rocky Mountain goats are off the menu. What else can you salvage? Coyotes, skunks, nutria, opossum, badgers, porcupines, and weasels; along with bobcats, gray and red foxes, martens, muskrat/minks, raccoons, river otters, and beavers (as long as you're a licensed "furtaker" and it's the right time of the year). Oh, and white-tailed deer can only be salvaged from Douglas County and east of the crest of the Cascade Mountains because of the protected status for white-tailed deer in most of western Oregon.

So, happy salvaging, Oregonians! Just don't tell me how that elk sausage got made.

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