Most drivers who hit roadkill leave the carcass on the ground, but several thousand Pennsylvanians in 2017 wanted to make the dead animal their next meal.
As of mid-December, the Pennsylvania Game Commission had received more than 3,300 inquiries from drivers seeking a permit to eat roadkill, spokesperson Travis Lau said.
“Those are valuable food sources,” he said. “And it is a valuable use of our wildlife resource to allow that animal that’s been killed to now get to somebody who might be in need or who otherwise wants it for food.”
By law, residents who pick up a dead deer or turkey from the road can carry the animal home to eat, but they must give their regional game commission office a call within 24 hours to obtain a permit. The permit is free, but the inedible parts of the animal must be returned to the game commission or thrown out, unless the person in possession of the roadkill wants to purchase them.
Lau characterized the number of people requesting a roadkill permit in 2017 as fairly typical for a given year. The game commission’s offices in the southeastern and southwestern parts of Pennsylvania received the most inquiries.
“Those places do face different challenges than much of the state as far as deer management is concerned,” he said.
Lau said there is less public land in those regions, which means fewer hunting opportunities to keep the deer population at bay.
Collisions with deer occur most frequently in fall months during mating season, and they also tend to spike in the spring when young deer leave their mothers, he said. A report from State Farm backs this up. The insurance agency in 2017 ranked Pennsylvania drivers third most likely in the nation to hit a large animal, like a deer. State Farm estimates one out of every 63 drivers in the state hit a deer this past year.
Pennsylvania routinely ranks among the worst states for deer collisions in State Farm’s annual deer claim studies.