CA Officials Remind Public That Collecting, Eating Roadkill Will Still Be Illegal in 2020

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A deer wanders on the road on Oct. 12, 2017 in the hills above Santa Rosa. (Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

A deer wanders on the road on Oct. 12, 2017 in the hills above Santa Rosa. (Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

State wildlife officials issued a reminder Monday that come New Year’s Day, collecting and eating animals struck and killed by vehicles on the road will still be illegal in California.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife referred to the confusion stemming from the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, which Gov. Gavin Newsom approved in October.

Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) introduced State Senate Bill 395 earlier this year.

Under the law, the California Fish and Game Commission will be allowed to develop a pilot program some time before 2022 that would let people who wish to collect and consume “salvageable wild game meat” apply for a permit and submit to a reporting process online. Officials can start implementing the pilot program once it receives funding from lawmakers. It can only be run  at a maximum of three areas in the state that see a high concentration of roadkill, the bill says.

At the end of the program, officials will have to release the data collected and detail the feasibility of making a reporting system available statewide.

The law ultimately aims to make available to Californians the “tens of thousands of pounds of a healthy wild, big game food source that currently is wasted each year following wildlife-vehicle collisions.” It’s estimated that more than 20,000 deer are hit by cars in California, the bill said.

More than 20 states in the U.S., including Florida and Washington, have legislation similar to California’s Wildlife Traffic Safety Act. PETA has also expressed support for eating roadkill, calling it a “a superior option to the neatly shrink-wrapped plastic packages of meat in the supermarket.”

But with just a little more than a week until the new year, when SB 395 becomes effective, California’s Fish and Wildlife department moved to dispel misinterpretations of the bill.

The agency emphasized that the program allowed by the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act has not yet been established, and that those who collect or possess roadkill in the state could still face citations.

“Many Californians think it will be legal to possess and utilize roadkill on Jan. 1, which is the technical effective date of the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, but that’s not the case,” David Bess, the agency’s deputy director and head of the law enforcement division, said in a statement. “There is no collection or utilization program in place. We are trying to avoid any confusion by misinformed citizens who think it is lawful to collect roadkill animals.”

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