The headlines proclaiming that people who crash into a deer or an elk on an Oregon road can now partially offset the cost of a new bumper by filling their freezer with fresh venison were, it turned out, premature.
It’s true that the Legislature has passed a bill allowing people to salvage meat (but not antlers) from roadkilled deer and elk.
But the wheels of government, as we (and headline writers) ought to have remembered, turn slowly.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the agency that will oversee the new roadkill law, has until Jan. 1, 2019, to approve rules under which drivers can actually turn an unfortunate collision into a savory dinner.
This strikes us as an awfully generous deadline for lawmakers to give ODFW.
It’s not as if Oregon is setting a major legal precedent. About 20 other states already allow drivers to salvage animals killed by vehicles, after all. And although we understand that Oregonians have a certain iconoclastic pride (our aversions to self-serve fueling and a sales tax, to name two prominent examples), we doubt our state has any special circumstances, when it comes to deer and elk that stray onto highways at just the wrong time, that justify such a long rule-writing period.
To be sure, the Jan. 1, 2019, time is not absolute — ODFW can proffer rules to the Fish and Wildlife Commission for its approval any time before that.
We hope the agency sets itself a more ambitious target. To do otherwise amounts to wasting both time and, potentially, nutritious meat.
We have perhaps the most unlikely of allies in our campaign to get ODFW moving on this matter. Even PETA — no fans of hunting — advocate salvaging roadkill deer and elk because the meat, unlike the typical grocery store fare, does not contain antibiotics and artificial hormones.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of publisher Kari Borgen, editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.