UPDATE, July 1, 2021: Game and Fish continues to draft regulations to address the new roadkill law passed by the 2021 Wyoming Legislature.
These draft rules will be open for public comment in mid-August. While the law is effective July 1, members of the public will not be able to begin collecting roadkill carcasses until those regulations are approved by the Commission, presented for approval during their November meeting.
By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
If the idea of seeing a squashed raccoon in the middle of Interstate 80, picking it up with a shovel and putting it in your backseat, and then throwing it on the barbecue when you get home sounds like a great idea, you’re in luck.
Gov. Mark Gordon, earlier this week, signed legislation that allows citizens to scrape dead animals off of any road and then fry them up for dinner, put them in a blender for a smoothie, or consume the animal au tartare as they motor down the road.
That doesn’t mean you can turn your car into a killing machine and intentionally run over animals like a Bambi-version of the movie “Death Race 2000”.
But it does mean that if you see an 18-wheeler hit an elk at 85 mph, turning the animal into the equivalent of a Fourth of July fireworks show, you are allowed to scoop up the carcass, throw it in the back of your pickup, and then have a romantic elk-kabob dinner later that evening.
The question, of course, is should you?
Cowboy State Daily, of course, does not pass judgment on the eating habits of our readers.
As no one on our staff has expertise in roadkill preparation, we turned to BackdoorSurvival.com for answers.
The website provides eight basic tenets to follow when considering making a meal out of squashed rabbits or any other animal.
- Make sure it’s legal. Some animals in Wyoming do not qualify. For example, if you hit a grizzly bear with your Mini Cooper (or any other vehicle), you may not eat the grizzly bear. If a Mini Cooper was used, the bear will likely eat you. Regardless, if you hit a grizzly, you must report it to local officials (this does not apply if you have been consumed).
- Impact damage. How much of the animal is salvageable. “Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided,” it cautions.
- Clear eyes. If the eyes are clear, go for it. If the eyes are cloudy with creamy discharges, it’s not advisable. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone, it says.
- Stiffness and skin. If the skin moves along top of the muscle, you are probably OK. If the fur can be pulled off the animal, it’s been dead for too long.
- Bugs and blood. If you see maggots, it’s not a good idea to pick it up for dinner. But then, this should not be a newsflash.
- Climate and weather. It’s advisable to find roadkill during a snowstorm in Wyoming. Meat will decompose in hot and humid conditions, the website says.
- Smell. If it reeks, walk away.
- Collection and processing tips. You’ll want to put the animal in some type of bag. It is not advisable to put the animal in the back seat of the car like the elk in the movie Tommy Boy. And don’t field dress the animal in the middle of the interstate.
By the way, you do need a permit to collect the roadkill and you can’t harvest roadkill until July — that’s when the Game and Fish Department will create all the rules.
Until then, bon appetit!