California Governor Gavin Newsom must be getting writer’s cramp with all the legislation he’s signed recently. Within the last week, he’s banned school lunch debt shaming, outlawed production of new fur coats, and given Californians the thumbs up on eating roadkill. That latter piece of legislation, Senate Bill 395, makes California the most recent of more than 20 states that allow motorists to salvage and eat animals killed by vehicles—and it’s a great idea.
Having eaten roadkill myself, I can attest that if salvaged and prepared properly, it’s a safe, delicious, and economical way to enjoy wild game. Like other states with roadkill salvage laws, California’s pilot program will require citizens to obtain a specific permit within 24 hours of collecting the animal. A special app will be developed to enable citizens to apply for these permits. Eligible animals include deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, and wild pig; animals covered under Endangered Species protections are not eligible, obviously.
Legislative text explaining the pilot program—which will cover three geographic areas known to have high wildlife-vehicle collision rates—say it will “translate into hundreds of thousands of pounds of healthy meat that could be utilized to feed those in need.” Motorists who strike and kill an animal may apply for the permit, as can motorists who did not strike the animal themselves but who come upon it while driving. The bill would not cover the intentional killing of animals with a vehicle for the purpose of salvage. Additionally, if a motorist severely injures but does not kill the animal, that meat can only be salvaged “if it is subsequently killed by the [Fish and Game] department… or a law enforcement officer authorized by the department to kill injured wildlife.”
This all seems like a fine way to ensure that at least some edible meat that would have otherwise gone to waste could now be used to feed Californians. If a motorist hits a deer—or damn, an elk—that could yield enough meat to feed a family throughout much of the year. If the prospect of eating roadkill doesn’t sit right with you, of course, just leave it. Surely one man’s roadkill is another man’s filet mignon.