Quandary: Understanding Colorado’s roadkill rules (column)
July 15, 2017
Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.
I hit a deer on Highway 9. Is it true I can keep the meat?
It seems a little heartless to ask a goat about roadkill, but it is true: Only a few tire tracks separate Bambi from brunch. Colorado is one of about 20 states — Oregon just joined the fold — to allow people to harvest the meat from roadkill. This isn't the Wild West, though, and the whole process comes with plenty of paperwork. To discourage would-be hunters from using their Buick to bag a buck, depending on the type of animal you hit, you might even get to meet a Colorado Parks and Wildlife employee.
If you do find yourself one pronghorn into the kill column, CPW asks that you call immediately to notifiy the office that an animal has been struck and is on a roadway. Once you've handed over all of the pertinent information to a field officer, you'll be given a permit to harvest the meat. If you happen to go on your murderous rampage on a weekend, you can harvest the meat, and have 24 hours to notify CPW. Like I said, a field officer will likely come to the scene to ensure that the animal really was killed by an auto and not a hunter that didn't get a permit this season.
If you aren't a hunter, or at the very least, don't know how to field dress an animal, do yourself a favor and just walk away. Once an animal is killed you want to quickly discard the meat from where you struck the beast. The flesh in this area gets bloodshot quickly and is not good to eat. After that comes the work of skinning and butchering the meat — you didn't think that handy steak diagram was really printed under the fur, did you? Now, I'm not saying you should troll the highways as a replacement for the grocery store, but there is quite a bit of meat you can harvest from roadkill: an elk can get you 200 pounds; a deer will be far less than that, but varies depending on which member of the family you take out.
It's estimated that cars kill twice as many animals as hunters do every year, and insurance companies pay out an average of $3.6 billion a year because of wildlife collisions. That number does include if you accidently back over Sparky in the driveway too, though, so wildlife collisions cost slightly less than that figure. Estimates vary greatly as to how many animals are actually killed and how many are reported, but no matter what numbers you go off of, there is a lot of meat rotting on the side of the road. So if you fancy yourself a zero-waste advocate, maybe it's time to put your scavenger skills to the test. This naturally harvested bounty is GMO free and, for the most part, organic, though who knows what a bear might have been eating before his untimely demise.