Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle wants to write the state’s current roadkill salvage rules into state law, and add an additional provision: That motorists can shoot a badly injured animal they’ve struck to put it out of its misery.
Right now, Moyle said, “The problem is the only person who can dispatch that animal is an officer. So we have members in this body who have been in a situation … where an animal, in one case, was lying there with three broken legs flopping around in the road. … They had to wait ’til an officer arrived to dispatch the animal.”
Moyle, R-Star, persuaded the House Resources Committee to introduce his bill on Wednesday; Idaho Fish and Game officials said they hadn’t yet seen it. The state Fish and Game Commission “will certainly review it,” said Sharon Kiefer, Fish and Game deputy director. Currently, she said, “We do not have a rule or a law that authorizes individuals to kill an animal and possess it, outside of commission-established seasons and rules.”
Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, asked Moyle if his proposal would put the motorist “in danger of having an officer decide that animal was going to be all right.”
“It may,” Moyle responded, but added, “You generally know. … If the animal’s well enough to live, it’s not going to stick around — you’re not going to find it, generally.”
Former North Idaho Rep. Dick Harwood began pushing in 2010 for Idaho to allow motorists with hunting or trapping licenses to salvage roadkill. At the time, he proposed legislation to allow retrieval of road-killed fur-bearing animals, such as mountain lions, bears or bobcats, in or out of season. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission opposed the bill, out of concern over how it would affect enforcement efforts when people have an animal carcass and claim they found it on the road.
Harwood withdrew his bill but kept pushing the issue. In 2012, the Department of Fish and Game adopted rules allowing the salvage of road-killed animals under certain circumstances, and lawmakers approved the rules. They require anyone who wants to salvage roadkill to notify Fish and Game within 24 hours and obtain a salvage permit within 72 hours. Only certain types of animals may be salvaged. They don’t allow injured animals to be killed by motorists.
Moyle said he wants to allow “the person that hit the animal … to dispatch the animal, and not let it suffer any longer.”
The committee’s vote to introduce the bill clears the way for a full hearing.