TEXAS (NEXSTAR) – If you accidentally kill a wild animal with your vehicle in Texas, do you have the right to take it home for dinner?
Many states, like California, have certain exceptions about what animals can be picked up off the road and whether drivers are legally protected in doing so. Other states, like Louisiana, have made it illegal to collect roadkill entirely.
Texas belongs to the latter camp, having completely outlawed the practice of picking up roadkill.
Wildlife Public Information Officer Lerrin Johnson explained when an animal is killed by a vehicle on a roadway, that animal was killed by illegal means and methods and is illegal to possess.
“The reasoning behind this regulation is to discourage hunters or other constituents from specifically targeting animals along the roadway,” Johnson said. “Prior to this rule, poachers could claim that their illegal kill was collected on the road as salvaged roadkill. This rule change removed the possibility of a false defense.”
Another important reason the regulation exists is for safety, as neither the state of Texas nor the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department can assure that salvaged roadkill is safe to eat. Johnson said this is due to both the chance that the animal was diseased, which may have contributed to it becoming roadkill, and the migration of bacteria due, which can make the carcass unsafe to eat or possess.
Before the rule change in 2007, it would have been legal for hobby collectors to collect nongame wildlife from the road surface if they were not doing so from a vehicle, which posed a severe safety hazard.
Before you laugh off the idea of eating roadkill consider this, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) suggests roadkill is preferable to store-bought meat in an online posting. The organization points to the lack of antibiotics, hormones, and growth stimulants that they claim can be found in most supermarket meats today.
PETA also argues that picking up roadkill for dinner is a more humane option than purchasing supermarket meat. This is because the animals were not “castrated, dehorned, or debeaked without anesthesia, (and) did not suffer the trauma and misery of transportation.”