Where in Canada are you allowed to eat roadkill?


Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Published Sunday, January 20, 2019 10:13 EST

Jeremy Vander Meer had his first experience with saving roadkill moose as soon as he moved to Alaska almost five years ago.

"It's actually very easy," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "That's rather perfect."

The 31-year-old man, who grew up in Oshawa, Ontario, said it happened in winter, not too cold or too dark and there was snow on the ground.

A pregnant cow moose has been hit by a car and must be shot by state soldiers, who call the next person in the roadkill applicant list. In this case, it was a friend of Vander Meer so that he and his colleague, Joanna Young, went to the scene to help clean the deer.

"We helped finish cutting it and taking it to the car and going home," said Vander Meer. "After that, a few nights slaughter and break it into steaks and cubes and hamburgers, and pack it and freeze it.

"Everyone takes part, depending on how many hours you work."

Eating roadkill is quite common in northern states where wildlife forces maintain a list of people who are interested in saving one of hundreds of deer and other games that are hit by vehicles every year.

In Oregon, the law came into effect January 1, which allows people to harvest and eat roadkill. Around 20 states allow people to take meat from animals.

Laws on collecting roadkill vary in the provinces and regions of Canada. One constant is that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does not allow meat to be sold.

"Federal regulations require that meat products can only be sold if they come from healthy animals that are slaughtered according to generally accepted practices," said spokeswoman Lisa Murphy.

"Roadkill and the sick are not permitted to enter the food chain."

In Alberta, people are required to contact Fish and Wildlife officers.

"They will need to contact the government to get permission to take it," Insp said. Richard Lyons from Alberta Fish and Wildlife. "No one can have wild animals unless there is authority to do so."

The clerk considered each request on a case-by-case basis, including whether roadkill would be used for food, he said.

"It is certainly normal for an officer to authorize ownership," Lyons said. "So that person will be allowed to own it and use the meat, but usually what we do with the permission of the authorization shows there that the meat has not been examined.

"In most cases, we cannot confirm that it is suitable for human consumption."

Lyons said it was difficult for officers to find out how long meat had been stored there or whether it brought illness so people would eat it at their own risk.

Similar to Alberta, anyone who wants to take dead wildlife in British Columbia must apply for permission.

"It will then be examined to ensure that it is not illegally killed," said Dawn Makarowski, a public affairs officer for SM. Ministry of Forestry, Land, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

If the conservation officer decides that the meat can be saved, someone who wants to save it can get permission.

Officials say the only rule around roadcill at the Yukon is that the person must have permission to have wildlife.

Ontario also has several laws regarding wildlife found dead on the roadside.

"In most cases, you can save this carcass without approval," Jolanta Kowalski, spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said in an e-mail. "But certain species must be registered online … before you can save them for personal use.

"This includes all large mammals, birds of prey and furry mammals."

Kowalski said no one was allowed to buy or sell roadkill, although there were exceptions to pelt sold by licensed trappers.

"Anyone who tries to take wild animals killed on the road is reminded to do so only in a safe and responsible way," he said. "Practicing proper carcass handling will help ensure quality food products for the table."

That includes keeping meat clean, using clean cutlery, wearing gloves and hanging and cooling properly.

Vander Meer said he had learned the practices from his friends by helping to save roadkill several times.

"I am not a very good hunter, so this is a great way to get a deer anyway, without having to hunt successfully," he said.

"Most of the year I get roadkill moose in my fridge rather than hunted moose, because that's how it works."


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