In January, collecting roadkill was legalized in Wyoming. For residents interested in claiming the carcass of an antelope, deer, elk, moose, wild bison or wild turkey, the state now has an app for that.
A new feature to report and request permission to claim animals hit by vehicles was added to the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Wyoming 511 app, a road conditions and traffic information app for the state. Roadkill that can be claimed include antelope, deer, elk, moose, wild bison and wild turkey.
"I think this tool will be a great asset to road users wanting to collect roadkill on our highways, allowing them to do so in a manner that is as safe and efficient as possible,” Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) Director Luke Reiner says in a statement.
Users must get authorization from Wyoming's Game and Fish Department before picking up an animal, which the department says can be done on the app even without cellular service.
However, collecting roadkill is only legal in certain areas and roadways in the state. Busy interstates are off limits, as are active construction sites and national parks. Animals must also be collected during daytime.
“Safety is our main priority with any roadkill collection,” says Rick King, chief of the wildlife division, in a statement. “Anyone who picks up roadkill should operate with a safety mindset, remain cautious on the roadway and follow all guidelines.”
Those salvaging roadkill must take the whole animal to help prevent the spread of disease, including chronic wasting disease, and follow procedures for carcass transport and disposal.
“They can’t just cut a leg off and take it home and BBQ it,” Cody Beers, who works with the WYDOT in northwest Wyoming, tells the Mountain West News Bureau’s Madelyn Beck. “They have to take the entire animal.”
Around 6,000 big game animals, including moose, bighorn sheep, elk, deer and antelope, are killed each year on Wyoming roads, resulting in between $20 to 23 million in wildlife costs and $24 to 29 million in personal injury costs, per the department.
“That’s quite a lot. And we know that the majority of those are mule deer,” Game and Fish Department spokesperson Sara DiRienzo tells the Associated Press’ Mead Gruver.
Approximately 85 percent of Wyoming’s wildlife collisions are with mule deer, which accounts for a 4 percent mule deer population loss each year.
The app will collect data for wildlife managers and will help the state come up with better strategies for putting up wildlife crossing signs and other preventative measures to curb the number of animals killed on roadways, per the AP.