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Redneck or Resourceful? Montana Legalizes Roadkill

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When her family ran over a hog, Honey Boo Boo taught her TLC audience how to prepare and eat it with a recipe called "chunky pork and beans." It might be easy to pick on the South, but Georgia isn't the only state that allows roadkill for dinner. Montana, along with a number of other states, now allow permit holders to salvage roadkill just like Honey Boo Boo.

Republican Representative and State Trooper Steve Lavin says that at first, he laughed at the idea of legalizing roadkill, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense.

Is Roadkill Sustainable?

If roadkill is fresh, hit on a cold day for instance, or perhaps larger animal doesn't end up under the car, it’s considered to be safe for human consumption. "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."

In a time of horrifying food waste, should we really turn up our noses because it was killed on the open road instead of a slaughterhouse? In all, 1,232,000 deers were hit by vehicles in the U.S. last year. That's 20 million pounds of free range meat that accidentally met its demise on the highway. If someone wants to eat it, should we really stand in the way.

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From the Organic Authority Files

In Montana, 1,900 animal collisions were reported but nearly 7,000 animals were cleared from the road. So most of them go unreported. The new law not only makes it legal to eat roadkill, but encourages passers-by to clear it from the roads, which helps prevent additional vehicular collisions. Drivers stopping to pick up roadkill still need to be aware of oncoming traffic, however.

Issuing Roadkill Permits

If the idea of being able to pluck dinner from the roadside makes you uneasy, there will be some rules. Police officers can issue permits for the salvage of roadkill including antelope, deer, elk, and moose, but not bear and bighorn sheep (these two were deliberately left off the list because their body parts are worth money). The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet to start finalizing new rules with the legislature.

Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, and Georgia already allow salvaging roadkill while Alaska says that roadkill belongs to the state, which feeds needy families with it.

Curious how to cook roadkill? It’s game, so grab a game cookbook and consider salvaging some of this sustainable grub yourself.

Related on Organic Authority:

Sustainable Meat Production and Technology Join Forces at Hack//Meat Conference
Hipster Hunting for Sustainable Meat
Got a Beef With Meat Labels? How to Demystify Their Meaning

Image: ncbrian

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