Roadkill Taste Test

Would you or have you ever picked up a fresh roadkill to butcher and toss in the freezer?

By: Todd Smith, Special to

deer roadkill

Though collisions with wildlife can rearrange the front end of your car or truck, these accidents also can fill your freezer with healthy protein. (Photo courtesy of Carlos Gomez, Oklahoma Game Warden)


As deer populations rise, so do your chances of colliding with one in your vehicle. Sadly, the consequences can be fatal. A recent post on Bank Rate quotes a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute that says “during the most recent year for which statistics are available, 191 people were killed on U.S. roads in collisions with animals.”

As you might expect, deer are the biggest culprits, but depending on where you live, it could be elk, moose, antelope or even bears. And with the rise in auto/animal collisions, we’re seeing more wildlife lying by the roadside than ever before. In some cases, the animals are destroyed beyond measure, but many times they’re not, which means an awful lot of potentially great-tasting game meat is going to waste.

Now, before you start breaking out the barbeque, be forewarned. Laws regarding the recovery of road-killed animals are governed by individual states and they vary widely. Some states outlaw picking up roadkill completely, while others allow road kills to be recovered provided you get a permit from the state DNR agency within a specified number of hours.

An interactive map on Market Place ranks West Virginia as the state in which you’ll have the highest likelihood of colliding with a deer (chances in WV are 1/39.9). This may explain why West Virginia is among the most liberal states when it comes to picking up roadkill. Section 20-2-4 of the West Virginia code states, “Wildlife, except protected birds, elk, spotted fawn, and bear cubs, killed or mortally wounded as a result of being accidentally or inadvertently struck by a motor vehicle may be lawfully possessed if the possessor of the wildlife provides notice of the claim within twelve hours to a relevant law-enforcement agency, and obtains a non-hunting game tag within twenty-four hours of possession.”

In fact, roadkill is so loved in West Virginia that the Pocahontas County Chamber of Commerce in Marlinton has been hosting an annual roadkill cook-off for years, attracting media attention from such luminaries as the Food Network and Discovery.

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