If Jed Clampett’s clan ever decided to ditch the Beverly Hills lifestyle for the Big Sky Country of Montana, they’d feel right at home … now that it’s legal to salvage road-killed critters, as long as you plan to eat them.
Especially Granny Clampett, the lovable and eccentric backwoods culinary practitioner from the popular 1960s television sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies, would be pleased to hear about Montana’s new statute regarding the acquisition of road-killed critters.
The new law that became effective Nov. 25 permits citizens to salvage deer, elk, moose or antelope killed in a motor vehicle collision. Anyone salvaging roadkill must obtain a free permit within 24 hours, either from law enforcement officers or online from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) website.
The agency reports nearly two-thirds of the 45 roadkill salvage tags issued the first week of the new permits were for whitetail deer, with three issued for elk and 13 for mule deer.
“To me, it’s a surprise,” Ron Aasheim, longtime MFWP spokesman, said of the high volume of permit requests.
While the idea of harvesting roadkill might be met with disbelief by the uninitiated, salvaging road-killed game is quite common across the United States, with more than 14 states permitting the practice, including populous Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan.
Further, a recent report from State Farm Insurance ranked Montana second in the nation for the likelihood an accident involving deer. The odds for Montana drivers are one in 65, which is much greater than the national average of one in 174.
Among the provisions in Montana’s law is one requiring salvaged meat to be used for human consumption, and not for bait or other purposes. Meat may not be sold and those who salvage an animal must take the entire animal, including entrails if it’s gutted on site.
For those roadkill-cooking novices who don’t have Granny’s expertise (or Jethro’s gastronomic preferences), Aasheim offered some sage advice: “People need to be aware that if [the roadkill has] been there awhile, you may not want to eat it.”
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