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Mineral County road killed animals can be collected

by MONTE TURNER
Mineral Independent | December 30, 2020 12:00 AM

A few years ago, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks developed a system for people to legally recover road-killed animals for human consumption.

It has become a legitimate program which has benefited many people in the Big Sky state.

In Mineral County, one can have their name added to a list to be called when an animal is available that you may be recovered at the scene of its demise.

Hundreds of deer, elk and moose are hit by vehicles on Interstate 90 but also Montana 135 and many access roads where the speed limit is over 50 miles per hour.

While many are saddened by the sight of a animal killed on the road that may go to waste, the gloom may be eased knowing crows, eagles, coyotes and other scavengers are alive because of roadkill.

But for those capable of moving past the thought of how the animal was killed and know that not all of the venison is damaged, it can be a good reason to salvage and use the meat.

“I can vouch that since this started, there have been many families that have used this program to feed their families. The funny jokes of the Roadkill Café on T-shirts have actually benefited quite a few, so it’s far from a joke anymore,” said Patti Curtin, former Mineral County dispatcher.

Here is how the program works for those who would like to participate: Call the Mineral County Sheriff Office dispatch at 822-3555 and asked to be added to the Carcass Retrieval list.

You specify what mile markers you are able to retrieve from along I-90 or other roads in the county. Some people take from their exit area plus-or-minus 10 to 20 miles and some say anywhere.

You can also specify what type of animal you care for with options being deer, elk or moose. Some only want larger animals and do not want to arrive at the scene to find it’s a deer as there is some hefty work involved at this point.

Bears are ineligible in the program and will be reported for removal by Fish Wildlife and Parks. The animal cannot be field dressed on the side of the road at the scene so it must be loaded whole and taken to a proper area for this process.

Plan on a few of your friends and a come-along to assist in lifting and loading. After the evisceration has taken place, it is up to the individual to go online to the FWP website and print out the permit which will ask the species, male or female, location, etc. but then it’s legally yours and ready for butchering.

If you receive a call from dispatch and you are not at home or haven’t the means to retrieve the animal, dispatch goes down the list to the next person until someone agrees and then their work begins.

Anna Day, Mineral County Dispatcher, said this is not a one-time deal.

“Once we have your name and contact information on our list, you remain on it until you ask to be removed," Day said. "We go through it about once a year to see if we recognize anyone that has left the area and remove their name. But people can be called numerous times over the years.”

If you discover the animal, you have first rights to load it, take it home yourself and print out the permit. The deputies, troopers, Department of Transportation have been the primary informants to dispatch that there is a viable roadkill at a certain location and to have someone pick up.

But still, not all are reported so when you discover an animal, they ask that you report it as they would rather have too many call-ins than not hear about it at all. If the animal is too damaged just by the sight of it, then the scavengers will be grateful.