By Graham Winch
(CNN) — If the citizens of Montana find turkey to be boring fare for Thanksgiving, they can now spice things up by legally serving roadkill to their loved ones.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks began issuing the state’s first wildlife salvage permits Tuesday, which allow people to consume the carcasses of deer, elk, moose and antelope killed as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle. The department will not issue permits for any other type of animal carcass.
Mike Korn, assistant chief of law enforcement for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told HLN people should be cautious when consuming meat found on the side of the road, because it could be rancid.
“We assume no liability whatsoever for the quality of the meat,” said Korn. “The conditions of the permit say you take full liability and responsibility for the quality of the meat you salvage.”
Eating spoiled or undercooked meat can cause food poisoning that can be life-threatening in severe cases, experts say.
There are two ways for Montanans to get a permit to salvage roadkill. They can apply online for a permit on the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks website. Law enforcement responding to an accident with an animal can also issue a permit at the scene. If someone fails to get a permit when taking meat home from the side of the road, they could be ticketed for illegal possession, according to Korn.
The permit application says people can possess all parts of the animal, including “meat, hide, hoofs, horns and antlers.” People also assume the risk involved in recovering a carcass from the side of the road.
“Vehicles shall be parked off the roadway and out of the line of traffic. The permittee acknowledges that collecting vehicle-killed animals on state highways is inherently dangerous and is undertaken at the permittee’s own risk,” reads the permit application.
In the spring, the Montana legislature passed the law creating a permit system for salvaging roadkill, joining at least 14 other states that have similar laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Korn said it took his department until now to get the permit system up and running, and it is just a coincidence that the system launched two days before Thanksgiving.
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