You don’t have to like the taste of road-killed meat to appreciate some new state regulations that will allow citizens to collect carcasses along Wyoming’s roads and highways. While the …
You don’t have to like the taste of road-killed meat to appreciate some new state regulations that will allow citizens to collect carcasses along Wyoming’s roads and highways. While the new rules aren’t exactly revolutionary, they will prevent some meat, antlers and other materials from dead animals going to waste — and that’s a good thing.
Of course, the change in the law won’t change the fact that crashing into a deer or other animal is a lose-lose situation: You get a damaged vehicle — and maybe even some bumps, bruises or worse — while the local wildlife population takes a hit. But the fact that those dead animals must be left on the side of the road to rot has always added an insult to those injuries.
Crews from the Wyoming Department of Transportation wind up having to pick up the bloated carcasses along state highways. That’s not great for taxpayers, as the task eats into the department’s time, and it’s certainly not great for WYDOT crews, who have to pick up a stinking, decaying animal.
“You know, it’s not something that our guys enjoy,” regional WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers told the Tribune earlier this year.
The changes stem from House Bill 95, which the Wyoming Legislature passed in March. It was a concept that state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, faithfully pushed for years before finally getting it through the House (44-16) and Senate (19-11).
Not everyone loved the idea. Critics wondered if the proposal was just a waste of time — and whether it could embolden poachers to crash into prized game and claim it was an accident.
However, if someone is OK with smashing their vehicle into an animal, they probably felt just as free to run one over before the new rules were issued. There’s also the fact that a collision risks trading thousands of dollars worth of vehicle repairs for an animal that’s probably not in tip-top shape after getting walloped by a multi-ton hunk of metal.
“... I really don’t anticipate that to be a significant challenge,” Rick King, the state’s chief game warden, said of the poaching issue.
As for the burden on state employees, the rules approved by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission last month seek to limit their time. People who crash into or come upon a road-killed wild bison, deer, elk, pronghorn, moose or wild turkey will be able to simply request authorization to harvest an animal via WYDOT’s 511 cellphone application.
“They’ll get an electronic authorization back on the app and away they go,” King told the commission. “So our folks shouldn’t be burdened with a big workload. And it should be really easy for folks who want to collect road kill.”
There are some restrictions for safety: Animals will need to be collected between sunrise and sunset and the state’s busy interstates are off-limits. Collectors also need to take the whole animal instead of just the most desirable parts. It all seems like a common sense way to keep some meat from going to waste and hopefully get some carcasses cleaned up more quickly.
However, keep in mind that the regulations have not yet been finalized — so if grandma happens to run over a reindeer coming home from your house on Christmas Eve, she’s going to have to leave it for the time being. But we’re glad a better option is coming in 2022.