Backroad carnivores will have to wait until 2019 before partaking in Oregon's new meals-under-wheels program that for the first time will allow salvage of road-kill deer and elk for human consumption.

The Oregn Legislature earlier this month passed a road-kill salvage bill. But Senate Bill 372 kept a lid on its implementation until Jan. 1, 2019, to give the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission a chance to craft rules and create a program to get salvage permits to people looking to partake in this grille-to-grill program.

Until then, no one in Oregon may possess or transport any game mammal or part of a game mammal that has been illegally killed, found or killed for humane reasons, such as after getting hit by a vehicle. The law's only exemption is for shed antlers.

While there have been no reports of early dent-to-dine incidents, "we've certainly had calls from people asking about it and some confusion of when it starts and what's going to happen," says Michelle Dennehy, Wildlife Division spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The new law states that only deer and elk can be salvaged for human consumption, that any antlers must be returned to ODFW, and that any road-kill dining be done at people's own risk.

As with all new regulations, ODFW will have to draft proposed rules that are presented to the commission and then go out for public comment before the commission considers adopting them.

Exactly what that will look like now is unknown, but the agency likely will look into some sort of web-based permitting system so people who want to salvage a deer or elk they hit off-hours can do so in a timely fashion, Dennehy says. 

For years, Oregon has swerved around similar laws in other states that allow road-kill salvage, largely to discourage people from deliberately hitting deer or elk just for the meat and/or antlers.

So any new rules will have to allow the legitimate salvage of road-struck deer or elk while discouraging poaching, says Doug Cottam, ODFW's Wildlife Division administrator.

Elderberry Flat Campground opens

The Bureau of Land Management this past week opened its small but popular Elderberry Flat Campground along the West Fork of Evans Creek.

The campground is free to use and sports 11 campsites and a pit toilet. However, no other services are available, and large motor homes and travel trailers are not advised because of tight turns in the campground.

BLM typically waits until mid to late June to open this campground until seasonal workers are hired and have time to prep it for opening, BLM spokesman Jim Whittington says.

Though free to the public, there are restrictions.

Campers are restricted to no more than 14 days at Elderberry Flat, and then they must camp more than 25 miles from the campground if they move, Whittington says. Because there is limited assistance, campers are encouraged to follow Leave No Trace principles by not leaving any garbage behind nor altering the sites.

Campers are encouraged to stay within designated sites and trails there.

To get there from the town of Rogue River, go north on East Evans Creek Road for about 18 miles, then turn left on BLM Road 34-3-24. The campground entrance is about nine miles from the intersection.

— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtfribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.