General Question

brownlemur's avatar

What rules exist as far as picking up roadkill is concerned?

Asked by brownlemur (4081points) November 14th, 2007

As a geeky science type, I enjoy looking at skulls and bones and such. Are there any laws prohibiting me from scraping random animals off the side of the road? Does it vary by state? I live in Texas, where I think I am required to own firearms by law, so maybe there’s more I can get away with here. Any thoughts?

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10 Answers

syz's avatar

There are federal and state laws about what kind of animal parts you can have in your posession. You must have a permit to have any part of a Bald or Golden eagle, for example. As far as I know, the only restrictions are for federally or locally protected or threatened species. Please keep in mind zoonotic diseases, though (rabies, etc).

And as an aside, ant hills are great for cleaning up skeletal remains. Just drop the remains on the hill, and check back in a week or so.

hossman's avatar

I myself prefer chopsticks, but I’m betting Ms. Manners would suggest a serving fork.

sjg102379's avatar

I would suggest taking a look at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code http://tlo2.tlc.state.tx.us/statutes/pw.toc.htm
I know that Texas has statutes that say that you can’t hunt alongside of the road because of safety concern about hunters getting hit by cars while trying to pick up their game. That may also apply to roadkill hunters.
On a side note, from a public health perspective, touching animal carcasses is really not a good idea. Who knows what kind of diseases the bodies can contain? Someone got bubonic plague recently in Arizona from handling a cougar carcass.http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Arizona_Biologist_Died_of_Plague_10501.html

brownlemur's avatar

Yes, this is all true, I read the plague article earlier in the week. I’m not so worried, as I take care when handling things like this. I’m not planning on dissecting cougars and getting exposed to viscera, just gathering a carcass and burying it so it decomposes properly and I can examine the bones.

gailcalled's avatar

Make sure you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s THE LAST AMERICAN MAN. He (Eustace Conway) considered road kill as part of his regular plats du jour; he hasn’t been to a doctor in years, and sutures his own wounds w. needles and fiber made from deer remains, after the venison stew.

syz's avatar

Ewwww

gailcalled's avatar

Read the book…an absolutely AMAZING story about a real, alive and well, guy.

christybird's avatar

It’s not just eagles that are federally protected – all native birds (and bird parts, including feathers) are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Most of the time you won’t get in trouble for having a few feathers, but just be aware that technically you could get fined for having any bird parts without a permit.

Starlings, pigeons, house sparrows and other non-native bird species are not protected in this way.

I totally understand your roadkill thing – I currently have a really cool raccoon skull sitting on my desk that I found on the side of the road. It was really well picked over by the time I found it, and just had a few wisps of hair clinging to it.

My recommendations: be careful and use gloves if it is fresh, especially with mammals, and maybe leave it in a safe place for “nature” (i.e., burrowing beetle & other insects) to clean it up for you. For example, if you wanted a fox skull from a road kill, you could stick it in a wire cage outside so scavengers can’t drag it away or destroy the skull but insects can clean the flesh off for you.

Okay I’ve probably grossed-out everyone on this site by now…

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