Permit needed to remove dead deer, elk

By Marcy Stamper

As of Friday (July 1), it will be legal for people to salvage deer or elk killed in motor-vehicle accidents.

More than 3,000 deer and elk are killed on Washington highways every year, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The forager will be required to remove the entire carcass, including entrails, from the roadway, and to obtain a salvage permit from WDFW within 24 hours of taking possession of the animal.

Big-game licenses and tags cannot be used for the purpose of salvaging road kill and an individual may not kill an injured or wounded animal for the purpose of salvage. Only a law enforcement officer or individuals authorized by WDFW may euthanize an animal. After that, provisions may be made to salvage the meat.

Individuals salvaging and consuming this meat do so at their own risk. Meat deemed unfit for human consumption and unusable animal parts must be disposed of properly, by burial or a method approved by the local health officer.

Salvaging deer is still prohibited in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties, to prevent potential conflicts with laws protecting the area’s endangered Columbian white-tailed deer.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in April to allow salvaging of road kill.

Information about the law is available at, where there is also a link to information about safe butchering and consumption of wild game.

Salvage permits are available online at and at WDFW regional offices (but not at the local Methow Wildlife Area office).