Legal Briefing - Roadkill roast? Think twice, Chef Boyardee


Dear John, If I accidentally hit a deer with my car and it dies, am I allowed to take it home and eat it? I believe that it would be a complete waste of the animals life to just leave it by the side of the road. If I at least use its body for nourishment, then it will not have lived and died for nothing.


Hit and Serve Harry


It is unfortunate that any life is taken by accident. I understand your desire to give meaning to the animal by honoring it through the consumption of its body. However, it would be in direct violation of Washington state law to do so.

The Fish and Wildlife Department is authorized to establish the limitations and conditions on disposal of wildlife killed because they were threatening human safety or causing property damage.

The rules of the commission go on to say that an animal killed needs to be reported within 24 hours and turned over to the department or its designee with all of its parts. Perhaps, this is better than eating the animal yourself because the department may be better able to properly dispose of the animal. They are the experts. Even if the animal is only moved to the side of the road, it will be consumed by other animals. Isn't that giving its life meaning too?

While it is tempting to dispose of the animal in the barbecue, doing so would subject you to penalty. I would not recommend even putting the animal in your car.

Happy Motoring,


John Hartzell is a practicing Walla Walla attorney. No attorney-client relationship is established via this column, which is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. Any information given is to illustrate basic legal concepts and does not state how any court would decide any matter. Have a question? Ask John at


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