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Roadkill: Takin' it from grille to grill

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Oregonians looking to dine on the bumper crops of road-killed deer and elk are about to get fresh grille-to-grill regulations for this new roadside salvage program.

If you accidentally hit it and kill it, you can take it home and eat it — and even share it with your friends — but you can't sell it.

Just get an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife permit within 24 hours and drop off the animal’s head — and antlers, if applicable — to ODFW within five days.

Bears, squirrels, turkeys and other Oregon wildlife remain off the table. And if you get sick, don’t come blaming ODFW.

“They’ll have to do it on their own risk,” ODFW spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy said.

That’s the guts of the draft rules for this meals-under-wheels addition to Oregon wildlife law that will be up for consideration Oct. 14 when the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission meets in Klamath Falls — ironically along Highway 97, the mother lode of Oregon roadkill.

The program is in response to Senate Bill 372, passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2017, the most recent of several roadkill bills legislators have found on their plates during sessions dating back to the early 1990s.

Each time, however, the Legislature left the practice illegal, leaving deer and elk killed on Oregon roads to furry or feathered scavengers.

Thousands of Oregon deer and elk are killed by vehicles annually, with by far the most coming in October and November, when the animals are mating, Oregon Department of Transportation statistics show.

Current law allows only trained ODFW biologists or Oregon State Police troopers to salvage road kill after first conducting a game-meat inspection to certify the carcass is fit for consumption before delivering it to a charitable organization.

However, “most don’t pass the inspection,” Dennehy said.

The proposed rules say whoever picks up roadkill must take the entire animal home and not leave a roadside gut pile that could attract scavengers that could also get hit, according to an ODFW staff report.

Within 24 hours, salvagers must get a free permit from the ODFW website and provide their name, contact information, the species and sex of the animal, where it was hit and whether the salvager was the driver.

The permit also absolves ODFW or OSP from any loss or damage from the salvage, and ODFW biologists will not do game-meat inspections on salvaged carcasses, the report states.

Also, the proposed rules don’t give the driver first dibs on the animal his or her car killed, so a passerby can beat the driver to it.

However, the proposed rules specify only the driver may kill an injured roadkill animal for salvage, Dennehy said. In those cases, the driver must immediately notify law enforcement as required under a separate law enacted to reduce poaching, Dennehy said.

Five days after a carcass is claimed, the head must be brought to an ODFW office to verify the species and sex of the animal as well as test for Chronic Wasting Disease, Dennehy said. The salvager cannot keep any antlers.

The new rules that get adopted will go into effect Jan. 1.

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

Mike Slusarcyk, Jackson County Animal Services, prepares to remove a dear carcass from Beagle Road in White City on Wednesday. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch