‘You Going to Eat That?’ New CA Law Permits Drivers to Collect and Eat Roadkill


Roadkill – it could be what’s for dinner courtesy of a new law in California allowing drivers in the state to collect and eat roadkill.

In an effort to stop wasting wild game meat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 395 into law on October 13. In addition to eliminating the waste of game meat, this new legislation was implemented to start collecting data on where/how most wild game is killed.

“Each year it is estimated that over 20,000 deer alone are hit by motor vehicles on California’s roadways,” the legislation reads. “This potentially translates into hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthy meat that could be used to feed those in need.”

California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will soon get to work on developing a permit system for “persons desiring to recover, possess, use, or transport, for purposes of salvaging wild game meat for human consumption which has been accidentally killed as a result of a vehicle collision on a roadway within California.” Those individuals will then be required to apply for a permit “through a user-friendly and cell-phone-friendly web-based portal” and report where/how the animal was killed and where the carcass is being taken. The bill specifically mentions deer, elk, antelope or wild pig as potential game meats, however the bill authorizes the department to restrict certain roadways and/or species where wildlife salvage may be conducted.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has until 2022 to develop a salvage permitting process to set terms and conditions for drivers taking home the roadkill.

California joins a list of 28 other states with similar laws permitting those who fatally hit wildlife with their car to take the animal home for food. Here’s a list of states where salvage tags are available:

  • ALABAMA (Only non-protected animals and game animals during open season may be salvaged)
  • ALASKA (Individuals are not allowed to salvage animals, but moose, caribou, and other species may be distributed through volunteer organizations)
  • ARIZONA (Permit required; only big game animals may be salvaged)
  • COLORADO (Proper authorization required)
  • GEORGIA (Native species may be salvaged; State notification of road-killed black bears required)
  • IDAHO (Reporting of time of salvage required)
  • ILLINOIS (Proper Hunting or Trapping License and/or Habitat Stamp required)
  • INDIANA (Permit required)
  • MARYLAND (Permit required)
  • MASSACHUSETTS (Permit required; Must submit roadkill for state inspection)
  • MICHIGAN (Permit required; only deer and bear may be salvaged)
  • MONTANA (Permit required)
  • NEW YORK (License or Tag may be required, depending on species)
  • NEW JERSEY (Permit required; only deer may be salvaged)
  • NORTH DAKOTA (Permit required)
  • NORTH CAROLINA (DNR staff phone registration required)
  • OHIO
  • PENNSYLVANIA (Reporting to State Game Commission within 24 hours required)
  • SOUTH DAKOTA (Proper notification and authorization required)
  • UTAH (Permit for non-protected species required)
  • VERMONT (Possession Tag for big game and furbearers required)
  • WEST VIRGINIA (Reporting within 12 hours required)
  • WISCONSIN (DNR staff phone registration required)
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