As of Sept. 28, road kill became fair game for pickup by anyone who is inclined to pick up dead animals alongside the road. What started out as ‘Booher’s Bill’ in July is now an actual law on the books that makes it easier for anyone, licensed or not, to pick up road kill.
The bill amends Part 401 (Wildlife Conservation) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to allow an individual to possess game killed because of a motor vehicle collision. It grants the vehicle driver first priority to take possession of killed wildlife.
For deer, the bill requires an individual who takes possession to obtain a salvage tag, by notifying the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or a local law enforcement agency via telephone or website, or when reporting the accident to 9-1-1 in case of a collision with vehicle or personal damage.
For small game, the bill requires an individual who takes possession of small game to prepare a written record and show it to a law enforcement officer upon request. The record must include the date, time and location of possession, the type of game, whether or not a salvage tag will be requested (which isn’t needed for small game), the individual’s name, date of birth, mailing address, telephone number, driver’s license number, and intended purpose.
Originally, you needed a small game license to pick up small game, and needed to wait for a police officer or Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer to show up with a salvage tag for deer. This new law makes it quicker and easier to claim road kill.
Dean Molnar, assistant chief to DNR Law Enforcement Division (LED), said that the DNR has been enlisted to make sure the new laws are being followed, but that the original intent was to make it easier for citizens to be able to salvage deer without waiting for the permit. It also will work to help keep roads cleaner.
Nevertheless, why would you want road kill?
There are many uses for road kill, not the least of which being for human consumption (see road kill stew recipe in the sidebar). Taxidermists use road kill for practice, trappers use road kill for bait, and there are many other uses.
“Anytime salvaging game from the road, make sure it’s fresh,” suggested Molnar. This is especially important if the game is being picked up to use for human consumption. Even cold weather is not a guarantee of freshness if you don’t know whether it’s a fresh kill or not.
There are laws as to certain animals that cannot be claimed, such as migratory birds, without special licensing. There are also laws pertaining to the proper disposal of dead wildlife. The Michigan DNR is in charge of keeping track of this new law, and can be contacted for more information on proper disposal and what wildlife can and cannot be collected.
Repurposed Road Kill Stew
• 1 lb. fresh road kill (raccoon, opossum, squirrel, rabbit, etc.)
• 12 fluid ounces beef stock or 12 fluid ounces vegetable broth or 12 fluid ounces vegetable stock
• 4 fluid ounces low-sodium tomato sauce or 4 fluid ounces V8 vegetable juice
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1½ cups onions, chopped
• 1½ cups carrots, diced
• 2 cups potatoes, diced
• Worcestershire sauce, to taste
• Seasoning (pepper, garlic and other spices and/or herbs)
Place in Crockpot in the morning, on low, and it will be ready by dinnertime.