Roadkill Deer In Illinois: You Can Eat It But There Are Rules
Deer and vehicles frequently meet each other in the most unfortunate manner in Illinois. Believe it or not, deer that are accidentally hit and killed in the Land of Lincoln can be eaten. It might sound disturbing but enough people asked about it for there to be laws about eating roadkill, according to TheSourthern.com (TS).
Illinois is one of about 15 states that allows residents to claim roadkill deer and other animals killed on the roadways for food or fur.
These rules for eating roadkill in Illinois, in this case, deer, are simple but one makes me scratch my head.
If the driver who struck the deer is an Illinois resident, he or she has first right of refusal in claiming a deer killed or injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Here's when the subject gets interesting. If the driver doesn't want the dead deer anyone can claim the carcass, unless you're behind on child support. An article from TS also shares confusion over this stipulation.
Depriving parents behind on payments rights to roadkill hardly seems like much of an impetus to pay up, but that’s what the law states. It also says non-Illinois residents are not allowed to take roadkill from Illinois’s highways.
There's another rule in place if you hit the deer and it is severely injured but not dead. If it isn't dead (but will likely die) you can "claim" it but you can not kill it.
It’s illegal to kill the deer yourself. In this situation, a call should be placed to the non-emergency line of the nearest law enforcement or Illinois conservation police office to put down the injured animal.
If you love venison so much that taking off the street (literally) how do you know it's safe to eat?
Your best bet for salvaging roadkill is if you witnessed the collision or hit the deer yourself, and you know the death is recent.
As you'll read in the TS article, if it's frigid weather the meat may last a little longer after death but there's still a concern. Perhaps this "golden rule" is the best to follow.
Use the smell test. Like with any meat, if it has an offensive odor or activates the gag reflex, by all means, walk away.
You can learn more about Illinois' roadkill laws here.