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Thursday, March 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Roadkill fair game in Washington starting July 1

The number of vehicle collisions with deer in the United States has increased by 18 percent compared to five years ago.  (File Associated Press)
The number of vehicle collisions with deer in the United States has increased by 18 percent compared to five years ago. (File Associated Press)

WILDLIFE -- Today is a big day for Washington wild game meat fans -- some ROADKILL becomes legal to collect along the state's highways.

Washington residents are now among about 20 states that allow salvage of road-killed deer and elk, according to a new program adopted in April by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

A salvage permit must be obtained from the Fish and Wildlife Department within 24 hours of taking possession of the animal. The agency has set up an online permit system on its "Salvaging road-killed deer and elk" web page.  A mobile app is not yet available.

Permits also can be obtained during business hours at department regional offices.

Among the specific rules that will be enforced:

  • The entire carcass, including entrails, of the animal must be removed from the road right of way.
  • Any meat an individual deems unfit for human consumption or unusable animal parts must be disposed of pursuant to rules published on the web page.
  • Individuals may not kill an injured or wounded animal that they encounter for the purpose of salvage. Only a law enforcement officer or people authorized by the department may euthanize an animal injured in a motor vehicle collision.

Salvage will not be allowed in three southwest counties because of federal rules for endangered Columbian white-tailed deer.

Don't get your hopes up too high until fall. During summer heat, the chance is slim of finding table-worthy fare on the road, unless it bounced off  your own bumper.

The department will not guarantee the fitness for consumption of deer or elk collected under a salvage permit, according to the adopted rule.

So use your common sense... or at least refer to this unofficial set of guidelines for road-ditch meat gatherers compiled by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman:

  • Sunny and hot? Stays on the asphalt.
  • Cold and cloudy? Load the Audi!
  • Eye sockets empty? Don’t risk dysentery.
  • Eyeballs clear? Dinner’s here!
  • If it’s bloatin’, don’t be totin’.

And I might add:

  • If legs are stiff or straight, you're simply too late.

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Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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