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As California Passes ‘Roadkill Bill,’ Nevada And Wyoming Remain Holdouts

In most of the West, a deer killed by a vehicle, such as this one in Idaho, could be harvested for its meat. But not in Nevada and Wyoming.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
In most of the West, a deer killed by a vehicle, such as this one in Idaho, could be harvested for its meat. But not in Nevada and Wyoming.

Most states in the Mountain West allow people to harvest roadkill, and California passed its own “roadkill bill” earlier this week.

But Nevada and Wyoming are holding out. They are the only states in our region that don’t allow the harvesting of meat from animals killed by vehicles.

“Some of the game wardens were saying that there’s always a possibility that someone could try to cover up a poaching by making it look like roadkill,” said Aaron Meier with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “But for the most part, there’s no real pushback for roadkill harvest. It’s just not something that’s come up.”

Wyoming’s reasoning is similar. As the Wyoming Game and Fish Department states on its website, “If the laws were more liberal, a person who poached a big game animal could claim ‘I found it,’ or ‘It was a road kill.’”

In Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Utah, harvesting roadkill requires some form of prior authorization such as a salvage permit.

Meier says for a roadkill harvesting law to pass in Nevada, it would start with county advisory boards and commissions, before working its way up to the state legislature. That body doesn’t meet again until 2021.

In any case, Meier acknowledges some benefits to the practice.

“If a deer gets killed and they were able to harvest the meat and drop it off at a food bank or something, that would go a long way,” he said.

According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, more than 5,000 wild animals are killed on roadways throughout the state every year. And a federal study reports that up to 2 million large animals are hit by vehicles on American roadways annually.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
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