HELENA, Mont. - Salvaging roadkill for the dinner table is not only legal starting this month in Montana, but state officials plan to let drivers who accidentally kill big game to simply print out permits at home that allow them to harvest the meat.
Later on, there will be an app for that.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission is expected to approve regulations Thursday that allow people to go online for permits to salvage for food the animals they hit and kill within 24 hours of the fender-bender.
No need to present the carcass to a law-enforcement official in person within a day of a crash, as was originally planned. Now drivers will be able to apply at a website and print out permits from their own computers.
And a request for bids is being issued to develop a smartphone application for roadkill permits, said Ron Aasheim, spokesman for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency.
"With all the advances in technology, why not allow people to do that," he said.
Montana lawmakers earlier this year passed the bill allowing motorists to salvage deer, elk, moose and antelope struck by vehicles. Supporters who didn't want to see the meat go to waste won out over skeptics who wondered whether the meat would be safe for human consumption.
Other doubters stewed over whether drivers would intentionally gun their engines whenever they spotted an animal in the road.
The Legislature left it to the state agency to sort out the details and how to issue roadkill permits. FWP released its proposed rules this summer, among them: the salvaged meat has to be eaten, not used for bait. Also, the whole carcass has to be taken, not just the choice bits with the rest left on the roadway for scavengers.
The agency received 86 comments on the proposed rules, most backing them. But many said they wanted the permit system to be as simple as possible, prompting FWP to develop an online system.
Under the new system, a person would go to the FWP website, complete an application, agree to terms and conditions and print out the permit within 24 hours of the crash. For serial strikers, one permit per animal is required.
People can still present the carcass to an officer or an FWP office during regular business hours to get a permit, if they prefer.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission was meeting in Miles City Thursday, where it was expected to finalize the rule.