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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