In First Year, Montana Roadkill Law a Big Hit

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Dec. 10, 2014
A new law that permits Montanans to harvest roadkill has proven enormously successful, with more than 800 game animals removed from the highways for human consumption in its first year! And speaking of meat, you’ll also read about a new study that shows vegetarianism is more fad than a permanent dietary condition.

Roadkill: In Montana, It’s What For Dinner!
The law that became effective Nov. 25, 2013 permits citizens to salvage deer, elk, moose or antelope killed in a motor vehicle collision. Anyone salvaging roadkill must obtain a free permit within 24 hours, either from law enforcement officers or online from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.

In its first year, 865 permits were issued statewide, with Flathead County residents acquiring the most of any county, with 135, according to figures released last week by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Absher's ONH 2 12-10-14Rep. Steve Lavin, R-Kalispell, primary sponsor of the bill, said its purpose was to fill the freezers of Montana families and food banks rather than letting road-killed animals and their salvageable meat go to waste. Lavin, who also serves as a captain in the Montana Highway Patrol, said his experience responding to wildlife-vehicle collisions on the state’s highways prompted his support of the measure.

Although the bill was the butt of jokes initially, Lavin said the high number of permits issued is evidence of the new law’s success.

“My intent when drafting the bill was to reduce waste and maybe help a few people out at the same time,” he told the Daily Inter Lake newspaper. “It became quite a joking matter, but that’s OK.”

While the idea of harvesting roadkill may be met with chuckles from the uninitiated, salvaging road-killed game is common across the United States, with more than 14 states permitting the practice, including populous Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

Further, a recent report from State Farm Insurance recently ranked Montana third in the nation for the likelihood an accident involving deer. The odds for Montana drivers are 1-in-65, which is much greater than the national average of 1-in-174.

Among the provisions in Montana’s law is one requiring salvaged meat to be used for human consumption, and not for bait or other purposes. Meat may not be sold and those who salvage an animal must take the entire animal, including entrails if it is gutted on site.

Bills Would Ban Drone Use For Hunting in Michigan
A pair of bills slated for a hearing in the Michigan House Natural Resources Committee would prohibit the use of remote flying devices by hunters to locate game animals. If passed, Michigan would join Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Montana, which have already banned drone use by hunters.

“This came from hunters and outdoor enthusiasts,” Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair), chief sponsor of one of the bills told the Detroit News last week. “They felt (the use of drones) takes away from the spirit and tradition of what hunting is supposed to be about.”

The measures are supported by the state’s largest sportsman’s group, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) as well as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A second bill, sponsored by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), would prohibit the use of drones to interfere with hunters. Penalties for violations could range from $100 to $2,000 and 30- to 180 days in jail, depending on the game animals involved.

Both measures were approved by the Senate with a unanimous 38-0 vote earlier this year.

North Carolina Marks First Felony Conviction for Ginseng Poaching
A Watauga County, N.C., man has pleaded guilty theft of ginseng from the High County Ginseng Farm, marking the first time a person has been convicted of felony larceny of the root in North Carolina.

The perennial herb is one of the most sought-after medicinal plants in the world. American ginseng occurs from Quebec, Canada, west to Minnesota and south to Georgia and Oklahoma.

David Eric Presnell of Boone admitted he took the root from the crop belonging to Travis Cornett.
“That’s the number one problem we have with growing ginseng is trying to keep people out of it,” Cornett said. “A dried pound is worth anywhere from $600 to $1,200. You can put five pounds in a backpack easy and walk out of the woods and never be noticed.”

Cornett and other ginseng farmers in the region said they hope the felony conviction will send a message to other potential poachers.

“Ginseng poaching is the main reason that there’s probably not more commercial production of ginseng here in the mountains,” said Jim Hamilton, Watauga County Extension. “It’s just too risky.”

Study: 86 percent of Vegetarians Return to Sirloins
New research indicates what most hunters already suspected — that veganism and vegetarianism are usually just passing lifestyle fads.

The study, conducted by psychologist Hal Herzog, determined that at least five out of every six people who give up eating meat eventually come back to eat it again, which breaks down to nearly 86 percent of vegetarians and about 70 percent of vegans returning to their carnivorous ways.

Herzog’s research found that meat avoiders said they originally gave it up for reasons of taste, concern for animals, social justice, and religious beliefs. Interestingly, “because it’s better for you,” wasn’t among the list of primary reasons.

“The proportion of true vegetarians and vegans in the United States is surprisingly small,” Herzog said. “Only about 2 percent of respondents did not consume any meat—1.5 percent was vegetarian and 0.5 percent was vegan. These findings are generally consistent with other studies.”

The study also found women more likely to attempt vegetarianism, as they are also more likely to concern themselves with animal rights. Further, the political liberals who gave up meat and then went back to it again actually remained more politically aligned with the conservative vegetarians.

Quote of the Week
“The ability to tell a good story may be dying, but if it is, it’s because the ability to listen died first.”
– George Reiger,
“Grayson Chesser, Decoy Maker,” Field & Stream, 1984


J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.