Bill Legalizes Eating Roadkill: The Health Benefits of Crashed Carcasses

02/23/2013

Road photoLet’s start by getting the giggles out of the way. Yes, the title did say roadkill and no, it's not a joke. 

And now onto the facts: Last week a Montana bill that allows motorists to eat their road kill passed the state senate. It's what ABC News called “the ultimate drive thru experience.” How I wish I had thought of that one.

State Rep. Steve Lavin introduced the bill that will allow game animals, fur-bearing animals, and migratory game who had been killed by a car to be harvested for food. The bill includes deer, elk, moose, and antelope but excludes big horn sheep and bears for fear of the exploitation of their collectible parts. 

According to ABC News, “Lavin said that in his "day job" as a state trooper he sees a ton of animals hit on Montana's roadways that could potentially be repurposed to provide meat for people in need. State troopers already alert food banks to viable bumper banquets. This bill would simply make the practice legal.”

Road kill is no small deal in a state where open roads and free roaming wildlife lead to 1,900 wild animal crashes per year and 7,000 carcasses collected. The numbers show that many of the wrecks go unreported. 

Colorado, Illinois, and Indiana already have similar bills on the books. 

Why It's Not So Bad

After a few belly laughs, I can see more than a few benefits of the bill. First of all, the animals go to waste if the meat is left there to rot. Although one wouldn’t advise stopping for any roadkill but your own. What’s more, roadkill meat is free of the hormones and antibiotics found in factory farmed meats. 

But you can also see the safety concerns that would come from picking up day old roadkill and hauling it off the road. Not to mention, the danger of being hit by oncoming traffic. 

"The risk is relative depending on the condition of the animal and how it was killed," said Benjamin Chapman, a food safety specialist with North Carolina State University to ABC News. "In roadkill if you happen upon the animal, you don't know its condition, which makes it riskier than eating regulated food or an animal you've hunted."

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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