(DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Two Michigan lawmakers are hoping to make it easier for drivers to take their roadkill home.
Sen. Darwin Booher, R-Evart, and Sen. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, have introduced a bill to simplify the process for taking an animal killed by a vehicle - currently allowed by the state but only after getting a free salvage tag from the state Department of Natural Resources or a local police agency.
Booher said his Senate Bill 613 would allow a motorist to take the animal for eating and other uses, such as baiting, and keep a written record of where and when it was hit and get the salvage tag later. Finding appropriate authorities to provide a salvage tag after raccoon runovers and deer dents is inconvenient, Booher said, noting that road-killed animals sometimes stay put for weeks.
"Constituents back in my hometown come to me and say, 'Darwin, why can't we pick up a deer off the road and use it to hunt coyotes?' " he said. "Or somebody who does composting wants to return it to the soil."
A number of other states have rules that allow for taking roadkill, and some have relaxed them to make the process easier. Montana's law allowing people to take road-killed game animals went into effect in November.
DNR spokesman Ed Golder said the department doesn't have a formal position on the roadkill bill. He couldn't say how many salvage tags his agency issues in a year.
"Our initial impression is that it is probably unnecessary," he said. "Right now, people can retain roadkill for food consumption. We are looking at expanding that to retain roadkill for the purpose of baiting, and believe that could be done through the authority of the Natural Resources Committee."
Mike Levine, an organic landscaper from Ann Arbor whose work frequently includes composting, expressed skepticism at first hearing of the bill.
"If you let people pick an animal up off the road and move it, that can be a disease vector," he said. "From the perspective of getting something that might go to waste, it kind of makes sense. But it also seems like it could be abused - you could essentially go out hunting with your car."
The bill is in the Senate's Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes Committee, with no hearing scheduled.
Detroit Free Press