Montana State Senate Votes to Legalize Donating Roadkill to the Poor

On Thursday, the Montana State Senate voted 28-21 to pass the roadkill salvage bill, which "would allow residents to harvest for food big game animals like deer, elk and moose killed by vehicles." Of course, all that is dependent on Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, who has to sign to into law. Bullock hasn't indicated his support or objection to the bill, which, unsurprisingly, is divisive among Montana politicians, apparently along party lines.

Some see the bill – which would rely on permits issued Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks -as a good thing, a natural way to help those in need by using a food source that would otherwise be destroyed.

"It seems like a waste," said Representative Bill Lavin, the Republican sponsor of the bill, who is also a Montana Highway Patrolman. "This bill ... would allow me to legally call the food bank or allow somebody else who requests it to take it and use it," he said.

Other people, those who value things like modern science and not feeding the poor possibly rancid meat from the side of the road, view the bill a potentially dangerous.

"Are highway patrolmen and law enforcement experts in meat inspection?" Asked Democratic Senator Kendall Van Dyk. "I have not seen anything in the bill ... that indicates to me that the safety parameters are in place to let me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is a safe food source for those in need, or anyone else for that matter."

But Rep. Lavin doesn't need any of these so called "experts in meat inspection" because Montanans know rotting flesh when they see it.

"It's pretty easy to tell when meat is rotten," he said. "In Montana, we have a lot of common sense."

Common sense or not, what Montana doesn't have are many places that would accept the donated, car-killed meat. The Montana Food Bank Network sent Van Dyk a letter saying they oppose the bill and would reject any roadkill.

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