ENTERPRISE EDITORIAL: Here’s to roadkill on your dinner plate

Quick: What meat is 100 percent organic, free of antibiotics, free of MSG and flat-out as lean as you can get?

Grass-fed beef? Free-range chickens?

No. Roadkill.

Montana began allowing the harvesting of roadkill in 2013. Last month, Oregon became the latest state in the union to legalize it. Last year the state of Washington also decided to allow folks to gather this alternative food. Today, around 20 states permit salvaging roadkill.

The program is going strong in Montana. The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks reports that last year, 1,202 roadkill permits were issued.

Here’s how the program works in Montana: If you come upon deer, elk, moose or antelope — sorry, you can’t collect any other animal, so no opossum stew for you — that has been roadkilled, or if you accidentally kill an animal yourself, you are free to salvage it and take it home for dinner. However, within 24 hours, you must obtain a permit, which is free and easily done by filling out a form online at fwp.mt.gov/hunting/licenses/salvagePermit.html. Or, if you are on the scene with a law enforcement officer after having struck an animal, he or she can issue you a permit on the spot. A note: Either way, you can’t leave parts of the animal behind — you must remove all of it.

“It does seem popular,” Karen Speeg, administrative assistant in FWP’s enforcement division in Helena, said of the roadkill program. “I haven’t had any negative feedback. A lot of people … appreciate the fact the roadkill isn’t going to waste — they are able to benefit from it.”

And that’s a good thing. While some elites might turn up their nose at getting their dinner on the road, as it were, when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. It really is organic food. It for sure is not going to have additives you might not like. And in an ironic way, it fits into the modern trend of healthy, all-natural, grass-fed, free-range protein.

Ironically, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is OK with consuming roadkill.

“Eating roadkill is healthier for the consumer than meat laden with antibiotics, hormones and growth stimulants, as most meat is today,” PETA said, according to an Associated Press story.

So even on a political scale, roadkill is a winner, with folks of all stripes in favor of it.

And they should be. It makes no sense to let good, nutritious food go to waste. So way to go, Oregon. And kudos to all those folks out there who don’t mind exactly where that delicious elk steak came from.

— Dwight Harriman
Enterprise News Editor