Roadkill-Scavenging Soon to Be Legal in Illinois

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Seal Good news, Illinoisans Illinoisians Illinoisites people of Illinois – it may soon be legal to retrieve the carcasses of certain unfortunate mammals commonly referred to as "roadkill" and retain them for personal use (presumably eating or skinning). HB 3178, passed unanimously by the state Senate last week and sent to the governor, amends the Wildlife Code to permit this under certain conditions.

I realize things are tough out there, but still.

As you know, it is unlawful in Illinois to hunt gray fox, red fox, raccoon, weasel, mink, muskrat, badger, opossum, coyote, or striped skunk out of season; to "trap beaver with traps" except as permitted; to take bobcat or river otter at any time; or, of course, to pursue any fur-bearing mammal with a dog at night during the 10 days preceding or following raccoon season. The controversy, apparently, was whether it was legal to get these mammals if you didn't "hunt" them, but just found them dead by the side of the road. HB 3178 puts an end to that debate:

Nothing in this Section shall prohibit the taking or possessing of fur-bearing mammals found dead or unintentionally killed by a vehicle along a roadway … provided [that] the person who possesses such fur-bearing mammals has all appropriate licenses, stamps, or permits; the season for [] the species possessed is open; and that such possession and disposal of such fur-bearing mammals is otherwise subject to the provisions of this section.

Note that the killing must have been unintentional, so you can't go create your own roadkill.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Norine Hammond. According to one report, she got the idea from a constituent who "came to her with the idea to assist the state with both roadkill and financial issues." Hammond said that due to budget issues, the state no longer had the resources to take care of the problem, and so apparently the idea is to outsource roadkill cleanup to private citizens. The law, Hammond said, will "help clean up our state at no extra cost."

At this point the report notes without comment that the state's budget shortfall is approximately $2.4 billion.

It seems entirely possible, though, that higher medical expenses stemming from a roadkill-based diet could outweigh any savings. "Anytime you have an animal product that would be meat or something," one health official said, "you've got the hazard of potential food-borne illness." (Especially with the "something.") The report reminds "roadkill takers" to always cook meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, after first checking their prize for "visible signs of bacteria and bugs." It also provides a handy recipe for "Pan Braised Squirrels."