Legalizing Road Kill: Montana Permit System Opens Next Month

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is finalizing a permit system that will allow people to retrieve and process big game road kill beginning next month.

Montana's legislature passed a road kill bill in early 2013 that made the Big Sky state one of 18 others allowing people to salvage animals dispatched by vehicles. An article from the Missoulian explains the intricacies of the new law and offers a few road kill harvest dos and don'ts--including some advice from wild-meat aficionado and author Steven Rinella.

In 2012, motorists in Montana hit 4,754 whitetail deer, 1,977 mule deer, 220 elk, 72 antelope and 28 moose--all salvageable animals under the new law. Black bears, grizzlies, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, wolves, birds of prey and furbearing mammals, however, remain off limits. The law also prohibits the processing of road kill along the road, and claimants must take the entire animal--ditching entrails off the side of a road or extracting only antlers isn't allowed.

While the FWP has yet to create a smartphone app enabling users to register road kill at the scene, anyone with a smartphone or internet access will be able to visit fwp.mt.us and fill out an online form. FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency will use the after-the-fact permits for tracking purposes and to investigate repeat offenders.

"We will spot-check some for sure," Aasheim said. "The law says all animal parts shall be made available for inspection by a peace officer. If we suspect something, we can follow up."