The Real Roadkill Cafe

Roadkill has been the subject of innumerable jokes, but Idaho is treating animals killed on the road as an asset.

According to estimates from the Federal Highway Administration, between one and two million large animals are hit by vehicles every year, resulting in 200 deaths and nearly $8.4 billion in damages. Since 2012, Idaho has had a system that tracks the kills and allows residents to salvage the carcasses with the intent of reducing the number of collisions and feeding hungry people.

Anyone who wants to claim a roadkill victim is required by state law to visit the Idaho Fish and Game website within 24 hours to report what species was salvaged, its gender and where and when the animal was found.

The information is used by the state to identify animal migration patterns, feeding areas and dangerous road sections. The goal is to protect both animals and people and their vehicles, said Gregg Servheen, Idaho Fish and Game wildlife program coordinator. “We’ve built an entire transportation system across the whole United States, and for decades it’s been, ‘Flattened fauna, who cares?’ You hoped you didn’t hit one. You drove by them all the time. It was just a given. Now we’re getting to a point where maybe there’s a better way.”

Not every animal is legally salvageable; forbidden categories include nongame wildlife, threatened or endangered species, migratory birds and other animals that are not legally hunted. But everything else is “fair game,” and in the first two months of 2019, Idahoans salvaged more than 300 animals from the road, adding to the more than 5,000 animals retrieved since 2016.

There are some health concerns and critics fear some people may deliberately try to hit animals, but now more than half of states have some version of a roadkill salvaging law.

“I really hate to have something that’s potentially salvageable go to waste,” Jerry Myers of North Fork, Idaho said. “We appreciate the animals where we live.”

Taken from “Why Eating Roadkill Makes Roads Safer For People And Animals” by Matt Vasilogambros (

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