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Not every dead elk can be saved

An elk was struck by a vehicle five miles out on Highway 140 and it is still laying in the ditch. Why was it not removed and the meat salvaged to feed people in need? That poor elk gave his life for nothing! With drivers stopping on both sides of the road to view the dead elk and others making U turns on the highway, there was the potential for another accident.

— Romelle H., Central Point

Well, Romelle, the Oregon Department of Transportation had a hiccup in its usual schedule of quickly responding to roadkill incidents: Thanksgiving.

ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming said the call about the elk came late enough Wednesday night, Nov. 22, that a crew to remove it wouldn't have been dispatched until the next day. Moving it late at night was more of a hazard than necessary, since the elk was already in the ditch. But Thanksgiving added a day's delay to the removal.

"With deer, we can pretty easily remove them," Leaming said. "An elk requires a truck with a winch to hoist it into the vehicle. They’re big animals."

ODOT crews removed the elk using a crane on Friday, Nov. 24, and deposited it in a landfill. You're right that sometimes authorities do collect the meat and distribute it to food banks. This time, the carcass had been laying there for too long to allow for use of the meat.

As for the gawkers, Leaming said despite the "wow factor" of seeing a bull elk so easily, pulling off to the shoulder and especially stopping in the street are both discouraged.

Those interested in collecting meat from big game killed by traffic will have to hold out until the state's roadkill salvage program begins issuing licenses to do so. The scheduled beginning is January 2019.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.