Auto Trophy: California Legalizes Roadkill Eating

In terms of legalization, California is long in the tooth, acting as a proving ground for the rest of the country. So it might come as a surprise that it's a little late to the "legalized roadkill consumption" party, having just become the 28th state to allow the harvesting of animals killed by car, according to The New Food Economy.

The Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, signed into law by California governor Gavin Newsom, will establish three yet-undetermined pilot regions where drivers can "salvage" meat from any animal accidentally killed by a vehicle. This "roadkill bill" will allow thousands of pounds of deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and wild pig meat to be put to use which might otherwise go to waste. The pilot program will last until 2029, and if successful, could see expansion to the entire state, according to the Orange County Register.

Sustainability is an important element of the bill, but according to California state Senator Bob Archuleta, it was authored with safety in mind. "When you look at the statistics, the number of injuries and accidents and fatalities, it's about time," Archuleta said. "If we can save one life, save one animal, I think we've done the right thing here."

Free app with your roadkill meal

Just how is this bill going to save anyone, man or beast? 

The California Highway Patrol has recorded over 8,000 accidents involving large game in the last six years, with more than 1,500 injuries and at least 24 human fatalities. Nationwide, Citylab reports that Americans collide with over one million large animals a year, costing $8 billion in damages — yet no California agency officially tracks wildlife collisions. 

The bill mandates that by Jan. 1, 2022, the California Fish and Game Commission must make a cell phone app allowing drivers to report big game collisions, which will grant them an instant permit to collect the meat. The information gathered will be collected by multiple agencies, then analyzed to identify ways to improve safety for both animals and humans such as road barriers, extra lighting, or wildlife crossing bridges. 

While the app won't be ready for a couple years, roadkill harvesting within the specified zones will be legal as of 2020. You'll just have to call it in old-fashioned to the Fish and Wildlife Department. Bon appetit!