Well this one is sure to leave PETA confused on whether or not they should protest.
There’s legislation that’s rapidly expanding across the United States to allow people to turn their roadkill into dinner.
At least 27 states have made it legal, and lawmakers in many other states like California are rapidly moving towards allowing it.
“At the end of the day, it just makes sense to put to positive use the animals that were just going to end up decaying and creating problems alongside the road,” said Oregon state Sen. Bill Hansell, whose bill legalizing the eating of roadkill went into effect earlier this year.
Proponents of laws like Bill Hansell’s say it doesn’t just provide free food for those who want it, but it also helps clear the roads of large animals in rural areas. It’s a heavy workload, and in many states, clean-up crews are sparse.
But opponents say there’s a risk of diseased meat. They also worry that legalizing it would lead to “over-eager drivers striking down animals just to get a free steak”.
Yes. Because drivers are going to take their vehicles into the woods to hunt down animals. Perhaps the solution isn’t just to ban guns, but also ban cars? (That was a dose of conservative sarcasm, in case you missed it.)
The roadkill thing sounds gross if you’re imagining a rotting racoon laying on the side of the road in the hot summer heat for days.
But it sounds more like dinner bells and a consolation prize for those of us who’ve had thousands of dollars of damage to our vehicles after hitting a big ass deer.
Despite the concerns of those who hate meat and love government overreach, many state legislators are hungry to allow the roadkill cookoff to grow.
Hansell is a Republican representing what’s a largely rural district in northeastern Oregon. His law unanimously passed both Oregon state chambers last year and became effective on January 1.
It allows drivers to take home the carcasses of deer or elk they, or others, have accidentally struck and killed while driving.
Here’s how it works.
You’ve got to get a permit – but it’s free and can be picked up through a mobile app within 24 hours of the accident.
When getting it, you have to agree to properly dispose of the unused parts of the animal, provide the location of the accident and eat at your own risk.
Within five days, drivers also have to give the head and antlers of the dead animal to their local Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office for research purposes.
It’s working. Since January 1, more than 200 animals have been salvaged, Hansell said. It’s being dubbed the new “meals-under-wheels” law.
But Oregon isn’t alone.
The law was modeled after one passed in Washington State in 2016. Back in 2012, Idaho legalized it. Tennessee has been doing it for 20 years now.
A Los Angeles Democrat, Senator Bob Archuleta, has proposed a nearly identical bill for California.
“All of this done together will lead to safer roadways and more data for…state agencies to identify where roadway defenses can be enhanced and future wildlife highway overcrossings can be identified,” a spokesman for Archuleta said.
It failed in both 2015 and 2017 in Wyoming, when similar proposed legislation was opposed by the state’s Game and Fish Department.
“What we find is that animals that become roadkill have a higher prevalence of diseases,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokeswoman Rebekah Fitzgerald said. “We want to ensure that people are eating edible and healthy meat.”
Fitzgerald pointed to Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and Brucellosis in elk.
Chronic Wasting Disease can’t be transferred to humans, but Brucellosis can be. It can cause joint and muscle pain and profuse sweating.
Then again, so can lifting an elk carcass into your truck. Just sayin’.
Wyoming officials were among those who said the laws would incentivize drivers to intentionally strike wild game with their cars.
Animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States agree. Shocker.
“Our concern really is where people might intentionally hit animals for trophy or food. Like an elk or something large. It’s incredible dangerous. For both species,” said John Griffin, the senior director of urban wildlife programs at the Humane Society of the United States.