Idaho’s wildlife collision salvage rule: what can you salvage?

by KOREY OWENS Contributing Writer
| January 12, 2021 1:00 AM

In spring 2012, the wildlife collision salvage rule went into effect in Idaho. This rule allows individuals to keep road-killed wildlife species classified as upland birds, upland game animals, big game, fur-bearers, and predators that may be lawfully hunted or trapped. Unprotected non-game wildlife are also legal for salvage.

Protected non-game wildlife, threatened or endangered species, migratory birds (including waterfowl that are federally protected), and other wildlife species not lawfully hunted or trapped, may not be recovered, possessed, or salvaged. For a list of wildlife that can and cannot be recovered, possessed or salvaged please visit the roadkill/salvage/list.

Since the rule started, thousands of deer, elk, moose and other species that would have otherwise been wasted have been salvaged for meat, taxidermy and other uses. If you find a road-killed animal that you would like to salvage, here’s what to do.

Consider the safety of yourself and fellow travelers as you pull over and exit your vehicle. Always abide by traffic and safety laws.

Understand that wild game meat does not meet Idaho Food and Drug Administration requirements and that you consume it at your own risk.

After salvaging the animal, you must report it to Idaho Fish and Game within 24 hours and obtain a permit within 72 hours. You can fulfill both requirements if you self-report online within the first 24 hours at https://idfg.idaho.gov/species/roadkill/add. Be sure to print your free salvage permit and keep it with the salvaged wildlife. You can also self-report by contacting a regional Idaho Fish and Game office.

So what about dead wildlife not involved in a vehicle-collision? The salvage rule cannot be applied to any animal classified as big game, upland game, upland game bird, or furbearer unless it was killed in an accidental vehicle collision.

If you find wildlife that has died by any other means, and you would like to try to salvage the meat, you must contact Idaho Fish and Game prior to doing so. Keep in mind that meat, antlers and parts of wildlife that have been illegally taken, or that are from a suspected wounding loss, are not eligible for salvage.

However, antlers from big game animals that have died from natural causes such as winter mortality, predation, disease, etc. are legal to recover, and no permit is necessary to possess them.

When recovering or salvaging wildlife, some animals have additional mandatory check and report requirements. If you salvage a bighorn sheep, black bear, mountain lion, mountain goat, moose, gray wolf, or bobcat you must take it to your local Idaho Fish and Game Office within 10 days to fulfill the mandatory check requirement. River otters must be presented at an Idaho Fish and Game office within 72 hours of being salvaged.

Still have questions? Go online to idfg.idaho.gov/species/roadkill or contact a regional Fish and Game office for more information.

Korey Owens is a senior conservation officer for Idaho Fish & Game.