SB 613: Changes to Animal Salvage Tags, Meals from Under Wheels?

Currently in Michigan, a person having an unfortunate run in (literally) with a deer or other game animal while in their vehicle, that person must request a salvage tag from a law enforcement officer (DNR, local, or State Police) in order to keep the animal for food, the hide, or bait. Hunters may also collect it and tag it with their valid hunting license if its during an open season for that game. This salvage tag system has been in place since 1989 to close a “loophole” that poachers exploited, where people could claim they hit the animal in their possession with their vehicle rather than admitting they shot it out of season or without a license.

Senator Darwin Booher (R-Evart) wishes to change this process through new legislation, Senate Bill 613, to make it easier for people that hit game animals with their vehicle to keep them, while still giving the DNR some record of the kill. The newly proposed substitute bill (S-1) says that people would still not be allowed to keep:

  •  Birds that are migratory
  • Elk and moose,
  • cub bear,
  • spotted fawn deer, and
  • wolf

People who want to possess roadkill will either have to get a salvage tag as before OR  1) call the DNR or a local law enforcement agency or 2) fill out a form on the DNR website. However, this reporting requirement would not apply to small game, which remains a concern. Hunters will all now carry a base license which would allow them to legally keep small game killed, so there is little reason for this exemption. Turkey and deer hunters and trappers may also be concerned that people could keep a vehicle hit animal with only a phone or online report, rather than direct oversight by law enforcement.

Under the amended bill, the DNR would maintain the ability to restrict salvaging dead game animals in the event of wildlife disease or public health concerns. A person could still be charged with poaching if an animal is intentionally killed or injured by a vehicle.

We will continue to follow this bill, which may be reported out of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee next week. If you have concerns or suggestions, we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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  • Nancy0327

    The actual language of the bill only excludes a bird. The substitute bill is not posted on the legislative website. Can you post it here? Why isn’t the current process working? How will this stop poachers who claim it was killed by a car? Looking for insight.

    • Amy Trotter

      The Senator’s concern is that people are not trying to salvage these animals because the current process is too cumbersome to get a salvage tag. This will not stop poachers and could give them a loophole to use to keep illegally taken animals, but the Senator’s office feels that we have created stiff penalties for poaching and that we shouldn’t penalize law abiding citizens from having a streamlined process for keeping roadkill and making use of this animal in some way.

      • Nancy0327

        Thanks Amy. I think the hassle is far overblown. I have hit 3 deer over the years (in different counties) and each time the officer asked me on the spot whether I wanted the deer – no hassle. Another time, I wanted a road kill, called the county sheriff, was told to take the deer, a few hours later, the officer dropped off the tag at my house. Penalties have been increased for some animals not all. You are right, this creates a loophole for poachers, shoot an animal, then claim car collision (and had to shoot because it was injured). No questions asked.

        • Nancy0327

          The main reason not salvaging is because after being hit by a car/truck, the deer is usually quite mangled – and/or in my case, wasn’t prepared to strap a deer to the hood of my car and drive to a meeting with it!

      • Andy Evans

        Now that we are going to have another 30 CO’s hired, you would think it would become easier to get a road killed permit now? Maybe just have people call the RAP line and then the local CO could contact them, just a thought.

        • Nancy0327

          Good point. I realize not everyone reports car collision with wildlife. But, I think most people notify police, so they have a report for an insurance claim. Responding officer issues a permit, what is the problem. I can think of a few reasons why people don’t report…not enough damage to vehicle or no insurance…

          • Andy Evans

            And another good point on your part, Nancy. All these factors combine to make the actual numbers of “salvagable deer” fairly small, I would think. If the vehicle damage is minor, I tend to avoid making a claim because sometimes the insurer will (try) to increase my premiums. In those instances often the deer can still be edible (if the abdomen isn’t busted up). But perhaps they could just call RAP, get verbal permission to possess/gut the deer (with a followup inspection prior to butchering)? Just thinking out loud a bit :-)

    • Amy Trotter

      I have the S-1, but I hesitate to post it as I know they are still working on further amendments for next week. You can request it from Senator Booher’s office.