A bill before the Wyoming Legislature would allow people to take home roadkill.
House Bill 144 would allow people to take the food “if they’re going to eat it or process it,” Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said.
The bill would also allow people to collect roadkill if they’re going to use the carcass for scientific purposes, Zwonitzer said.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission would decide how to permit the process.
One possibility in the bill would be for people to carry an authorizing letter from Game and Fish to collect roadkill. To receive a letter, people would commit to “putting road-killed wildlife carcasses to a beneficial use,” the bill states.
Some type of formal license or coupon would be the most important part of allowing something like this, said Brian Nesvik, chief game warden for the Game and Fish Department.
Right now, anyone in possession of a game animal is required to have a coupon, license or tag. The formality allows wildlife officials to track how an animal died and investigate if anything appears illegal, Nesvik said.
Animals found dead on the side of the road are rarely still fit for human consumption. If an animal is injured and cannot be saved, wildlife officials can donate the meat, Nesvik said.
Game and Fish regulations already have a provision for anyone seeking dead animals for scientific use, Nesvik said. The bill would allow people to collect items from a road-killed animal, such as an elk’s ivory teeth or an antelope hide.
The proposed bill prohibits people from taking home bighorn sheep, birds under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and federal threatened or endangered species that people are prohibited from possessing.
It would take time for wardens to verify road kills and approve licenses, which would be more work for the department. But the Game and Fish Commission could regulate this type of law if the bill passes, Nesvik said.
Zwonitzer acknowledged that people may abuse the bill, take animals that they intentionally kill and claim the animals died from auto collisions.
“There’s some room for mischief,” he said. “I think it gives Game and Fish a little trepidation to support the bill. We have to think of all the angles and bad actors. People may not follow the law. But they’re also not following the law now.”
The Wyoming Wildlife Federation does not have any major concerns with the bill, said Steve Kilpatrick, the group’s executive director.
“To abuse the bill would be to abuse your vehicle,” Kilpatrick said.
The bill is sponsored by nine legislators from both parties: Reps. Zwonitzer; Stanley Blake, D-Green River; Kathy Davison, R-Kemmerer; John Freeman, D-Green River; Gerald Gay, R-Casper; Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne; and Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman, and Sens. Bernadine Craft, D-Rock Springs and Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette.