That’s right, some people actually want it. Whether it’s for taxidermy, valuable parts such as antlers or the tasty meat, roadkill can be a sought-after commodity.
Roadkill meat is said to have many benefits, including being void of artificial hormones and chemicals found in the meat at your local grocery store. It’s also thought by some to be a more ethical choice, as these animals weren’t raised to be dinner — it was simply accidental.
In Canada, deer and moose are prime targets for roadkill eaters, although black bears, beavers and rabbits are also easily edible. Roadkill is safest when its fresh, so look for clear eyes and the presence of fleas (but not maggots or flies). When preparing the meal, make sure to cook thoroughly to kill off any pathogens or parasites carried in the meat.
The laws around roadkill vary by province, so make sure to check the following rules before pulling over for that curbside charcuterie.
Ontarians are the lucky ones in Canada, as they can keep pretty much any roadkill they find, so long as they register it with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. A list of animals they can keep includes the following:
- large mammals (e.g., black bear)
- birds of prey (e.g., bald eagle)
- furbearing mammals (e.g., coyote)
Animals on the endangered list are the only exceptions.
To register an animal, roadkill enthusiasts have to either mail in a form — called a Notice of Possession — to the MNRF or, for the more tech-savvy, create an online profile on the ministry’s website. If everything is OK, the MNRF will issue a Confirmation of Registration (usually within a week) that allows the holder of the roadkill to legally consume the meat.
Most large animals need to be registered before being eaten. Registration is not required under these scenarios:
- the animal was lawfully killed (e.g., with the appropriate hunting licence).
- the animal was received as a gift from someone who lawfully killed it.
- the animal was lawfully possessed before its death (e.g., in a licensed zoo).
- you are a taxidermist or butcher possessing it in the course of your business.
The roadkill laws in B.C. are more rigid, forcing would-be collectors to immediately contact the nearest Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations office when they find an animal they want to bring home. They must then set up an appointment to get a Certification of Wildlife Specimen form completed by a ministry employee.
Like in Ontario, ministry employees will not give away any endangered species. They will also not give away any animal they deem has an “auction value” of more than $200. The department also has a fee on permits, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 for an animal’s permit plus tax.
People from Saskatchewan looking for free wild meat will be disappointed, as their Ministry of Environment only allows retention of roadkill for personal uses like mounting and displaying or to use for pet food.
If a person sees a dead animal they want to keep, they must notify their local conservation officer within seven days, who will issue a temporary holding permit, if it’s not an endangered species. Once granted, the applicant may be asked to get the animal X-rayed (at their own expense) so the officer can determine why the animal died.
If the officer is satisfied that the wildlife died of natural or accidental causes and not by illegal activities, a permit to retain for personal use may be issued.
Roadkill isn’t as big of a problem in Canada’s north, where there are far fewer cars on the road. Still, the province’s Ministry of Environment has policies for dead animals its residents find in the wild. To claim the animal, people in the Yukon must bring it to an Environment Yukon Conservation Officer to obtain a permit. Like all other provinces, endangered species are prohibited from being kept, but naturally-shed antlers from moose, caribou, elk and deer may be kept without a permit.
For more information on roadkill laws, check out the following links:
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Yukon Ministry of Environment