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Californians Will Have To Wait A While Longer Before Harvesting Roadkill


Some California drivers eager to adopt the motto “You Kill It, You Grill It” are counting the days till January 1st. But the state Department of Fish and Wildlife says, “Not so fast!"

In October, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 395. Under that law, drivers who accidentally hit deer, elk or other large game will eventually be able to legally collect the animal and take it home to eat. But Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer Captain Patrick Foy says there’s a widespread misunderstanding ...

"A lot of people think that the bill authorizes people to use roadkill as of January 1.," he says. "All it does, is it authorizes the Fish and Game Commission to enact a program that would ultimately authorize the use of roadkill."

Drivers in Oregon, Washington and Idaho can already pick up roadkill, with a free online permit. In California, the Fish and Game Commission has until 2022 to put such a program in place. And until then, it’s still against the law to pick up roadkill – yours or anybody else’s – in California.

Captain Foy says one major benefit of an online permit program is that it will allow officials to see where roadkill incidents are happening.

"If we can conclude from looking at some of this data that deer are getting killed in one particular part of the freeway as opposed to a different part of the freeway," he says, "that might open up some management decisions that can address that problem and try to prevent these animals from being hit." 

Foy says wildlife bypasses or other methods can be used to discourage animals from crossing the highway 

Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for three decades. He served two stints as JPR News Director and retired full-time from JPR at the end of 2021. Liam now edits and curates the news on JPR's website and digital platforms.