State Rep. Steve Lavin, R-Kalispell, who drafted the bill signed into law by Gov. Steve Bullock earlier this year, said he also works as a captain with the Montana Highway Patrol and he was inspired to write the legislation after years of watching the carcasses of animals struck by cars go to waste, The New York Times reported Friday.
"If there is some good stuff there, why not use it, rather than throw it away?" Lavin said. "If someone has suffered damage to their vehicle, why not let them use that animal for some food?"
Lavin said he used to have to tell motorists they were not allowed to keep the carcasses of deer or elk they struck on the road, but he and his fellow peace officers now have the authority to issue free permits for the motorists to claim the carcasses within 24 hours.
Ron Aasheim, spokesman for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, said those taking the roadkill must dispose of the entire carcass.
"You have to take the animal in its entirety," he said. "And you have to dispose of it."
Several states have similar laws on the books, including Colorado, which allows people to take the edible potions of roadkill with permission from the Division of Parks and Wildlife.
"The goal is to make sure that meat doesn't go to waste, while making sure people don't poach with their vehicles," division spokesman Randy Hampton said.