BOISE - Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, says a constituent of his in North Idaho complained that when he found a bobcat dead in the road near his place, Idaho Fish and Game threatened him with arrest if he picked it up.
“He wrote me, said you’re letting a $200 hide lay there on the road,” Harwood said. So Harwood today proposed legislation to allow people with trapping or hunting licenses to salvage “furbearers” whenever they find them, in season or out of season. The purpose: “To allow road-kill animals to be harvested for the purpose of obtaining the hide.”
Under current law, it’s illegal for anyone to pick up wildlife hit by vehicles; protected wildlife that has died of natural or accidental causes is considered the property of the state.
“Most of the time, the Transportation Department comes out and they throw ‘em away,” Harwood said. “Sometimes Fish and Game comes out.” When Fish and Game recovers a road-killed carcass, on occasion usable meat is donated to the poor, Harwood said. Sometimes, road-killed carcasses are among the items sold at Fish and Game’s annual auction of confiscated or found furs and hides, an event known as “The Fur Sale.”
Harwood said he’s heard some resistance from Fish and Game officials to his idea, because “they’re a little worried about people running it over to get the hide. But,” he said. “I hit a dog once and it cost me $2,000 just to fix my car, so I don’t think that’ll be that much of a problem.”
The House Resources Committee agreed unanimously to introduce the bill, but several members said they had questions about its wording. The measure doesn’t actually mention “road kill,” though its Statement of Purpose. Harwood said he was advised that by using the word “salvage,” he’d covered that.
“I’m sure we all have a lot of questions about this,” said Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, a former state Fish and Game commissioner, but he moved to introduce the bill and the motion carried. The next step for the measure is a full public hearing in the committee.