Illinois Roadkill Bill Gets Squashed

August 9, 2011 | Erin Herbold-Swalwell


Earlier this spring, the Illinois House and Senate passed legislation amending the state’s Wildlife Code by adding a provision to §5/2.30 allowing Illinois residents without back child support obligations to take or possess “fur-bearing mammals” found dead or “unintentionally killed” by a vehicle along a public roadway. The amendment does restrict the carcass retrieval to open hunting season for that particular fur-bearing mammal and the person collecting the animal must possess the appropriate licenses, stamps, and permits to hunt the species of animal at issue.

Proponents of the “roadkill bill” argued that allowing licensed hunters to take (subject to the legal limits) a fur-bearing mammal from the roadside would ultimately save the state money, as fewer state employees (or inmates) would be needed to clean-up dead animal carcasses. Detractors of the bill argued that having hunters stopped alongside the roadway to collect dead animals would constitute a safety hazard for other drivers (apparently a dead animal on a roadway at night is not a safety hazard to those making this argument). Others simply argued that collecting roadkill for human consumption is disgusting.

The amendments were to become effective immediately. It’s an interesting amendment to the Illinois Wildlife Code. But, what if a vehicle does such significant damage to the “fur-bearing mammal” carcass that a properly licensed hunter cannot identify the type of mammal and whether the season is open for that species? Perhaps, one should err on the side of caution if it is difficult to distinguish from a beaver, weasel, mink or muskrat.

However, the Governor vetoed the bill.  He cited safety concerns as the reason for the veto, and instructed the legislature to send him a version that contains protection for motorists that stop to pick-up roadkill. 

So another version may be back next year.  In the meantime, remember that raccoon tends to be greasy and tough, and should be thoroughly cooked and prepared before it is consumed.  If USDA issues guidelines on the proper preparation of roadkill, or where roadkill fits in its newly revised food pyramid, we'll be the first to let you know.