Dec. 23, 2019 – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds the public it is still illegal to collect or possess roadkill animals and violators could face citation, even after Jan. 1, 2020. SB 395 – Chapter 869 (Archuleta), also known as the “Wildlife Traffic Safety Act,” was enacted with the intent to eventually make available for utilization the roadkill meat of deer, elk, pronghorn antelope or wild pig.
However, the legislative language does not permit the general public collection and utilization of roadkill animals, but rather authorizes development of a program for what the bill describes as “salvageable wild game meat.” Such a program is not yet in place, contrary to many news articles and social media traffic.
SB 395 only authorizes the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt regulations, in consultation with the California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, to establish such a salvageable wild game meat utilization program. It would mandate any such program to include a permit and a reporting process.
“Many Californians think it will be legal to possess and utilize roadkill on Jan. 1, which is the technical effective date of the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, but that’s not the case,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “There is no collection or utilization program in place. We are trying to avoid any confusion by misinformed citizens who think it is lawful to collect roadkill animals.”
In addition, SB 395 authorizes CDFW to create a roadkill reporting database to help wildlife managers identify the places where wildlife/vehicle collisions are most common. Data from such a reporting system could support wildlife conservation efforts conducted through regional conservation investment strategies. That program is also not yet in place. However, the University of California, Davis has a public reporting system called the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS) that is currently operational. Any citizen can contribute roadkill data and photos to CROS, either anonymously or as a registered user.