If you want to take home some tasty roadkill from the side of the highway, there’s now an app for that — at least in Wyoming.
Most states in the Mountain West have legalized salvaging roadkill. Wyoming’s law just took effect in January, and now that state’s officials want the process to be as easy as possible using a phone app.
“We’re extremely rural, and cell phones are kind of a way of life out here to communicate,” said Cody Beers, who works with the Wyoming Department of Transportation in northwest Wyoming.
Beers says if people download the agency’s free app, called Wyoming 511, they can both monitor weather conditions and get a permit to pick up roadkill. But they can’t leave any parts behind.
“They can’t just cut a leg off and take it home and BBQ it,” he said. “They have to take the entire animal.”
Beers says using fresh roadkill for food can reduce waste and cut costs, “and with tougher times coming, and a downturn in our economy, people are finding it more difficult to buy groceries.”
State officials can also use information from the app to learn more about animals struck by vehicles, and raise awareness about them. Wyoming lands include some of the largest ungulate migrations in the nation, including mule deer and pronghorn.
Wyoming is one of many western states building wildlife overpasses and underpasses to help animals by-pass busy roadways altogether. But it’s an ongoing process that requires infrastructure funding.
Beers said it is ultimately best to avoid hitting the animals, driving carefully around dawn and dusk, but that’s not always possible. He said if it seems that you won’t be able to stop before hitting something, try to aim a vehicle towards an animal’s hind end.
“If you can aim at the rear end of the animal, you still might avoid that collision because generally, animals don’t back up. They keep going forward,” he said.
People can also use the app to report roadkill so WYDOT employees can pick it up. Beers said that task is a lot easier to do when an animal hasn’t been sitting in the sun for long.
“The gagging, I’ve seen it from my maintenance guys. And then you go back to work and you still can’t get that smell out of your body. You’re smelling it for the rest of the day,” he said.
Nevada is the only state in the Mountain West without a way to legally salvage roadkill. A proposal to change that failed in the state legislature last year.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.