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Governor signs bill allowing Wyoming road kill harvesting

(Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

CASPER, Wyo. — People will soon have an option to harvest the carcasses of animals they unintentionally hit or see get hit on Wyoming roadways with Governor Mark Gordon signing House Bill 95 on Monday.

The new law will take effect July 1, 2021 and includes rules that will allow people to harvest road killed animals by following rules which will be set by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

“Unless otherwise provided by rule of the commission, a person desiring to possess a road killed animal shall contact the department before taking possession of an animal to obtain a donation certificate,” the new law states. “The rules may provide that a person requesting the donation certificate may have to present the animal for inspection to verify its possession meets the criteria of the regulation.”

People harvesting road killed animals will not be allowed to donate the meat or parts to a nonprofit organization. They will be required to collect the entire carcass if they want to harvest a road killed animal.

The new law will not allow people to harvest any road killed:

  • bighorn sheep
  • gray wolves within any area of the state where gray wolves are classified as trophy game animals
  • grizzly bears
  • mountain goats
  • wildlife species covered under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • federal threatened or endangered species or those species whose possession is prohibited by federal or state statute or regulation

The Wyoming Transportation Commission will be allowed to request that harvesting road kill be prohibited on certain highway sections.

House Bill 95 in its initial form would have allowed people to obtain “certificates of prior authorization” to harvest road killed animals they come across on Wyoming highways. This was a provision that the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (Laramie County), explained was aimed to give people such as taxidermists or scout troops the ability to harvest road killed carcasses they come across and put animal parts to use.

But the Wyoming Senate adopted an amendment removing that aspect of the legislation with some senators expressing concern that people might use the certificates as an excuse to intentionally hit animals in order to harvest them as road kill.

The House of Representatives at one point had added a $40 fee for the proposed “certificates of prior authorization” as a way to generate some funding for projects aimed to reduce the number of vehicle-wildlife collisions. The Senate removed that fee when the bill was moving through their chamber.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says that the state averages about 6,000 collisions between vehicles and big game each year, that 15% of all crashes in the state are crashes involving wildlife and estimate that these collisions result in $20-30 million in wildlife costs and $24-29 million in personal injury costs.

The department is working on strategies to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions through the Big Game Animal Migration initiative (including constructing overpasses and underpasses, improving fencing, mowing along the side of the road and adding signage).

The House initially passed House Bill 95 on a third reading vote of 35-24 on March 5:

  • Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BANKS, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BURT, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, DUNCAN, EKLUND, GRAY, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HEINER, HENDERSON, HUNT, JENNINGS, BARLOW, MARTINEZ, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, OTTMAN, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, SWEENEY, WASHUT, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
  • Nays: BROWN, BURKHART, CLAUSEN, CRAGO, EYRE, FLITNER, FORTNER, GREEAR, HARSHMAN, KINNER, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, MACGUIRE, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OLSEN, PAXTON, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, STITH, STYVAR, WALTERS, WINTER
  • Excused: WESTERN

Thee Senate passed House Bill 95 on the following third reading vote of 19-11 on March 30:

  • Ayes: BALDWIN, BITEMAN, BOUCHARD, DOCKSTADER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, FRENCH, GIERAU, HICKS, HUTCHINGS, JAMES, KINSKEY, KOLB, MCKEOWN, PAPPAS, ROTHFUSS, SALAZAR, SCHULER, STEINMETZ
  • Nays: ANDERSON, BONER, CASE, COOPER, FURPHY, KOST, LANDEN, NETHERCOTT, PERKINS, SCOTT, WASSERBURGER

Because the Senate adopted changes to the legislation, the House needed to concur to those changes before the bill could move to Gordon’s desk. The House’s 44-16 concurrence vote on March 31 was as follows:

  • Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BANKS, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BROWN, BURT, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FORTNER, GRAY, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HARSHMAN, HEINER, HENDERSON, HUNT, JENNINGS, KINNER, BARLOW, LARSEN, L, MARTINEZ, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, O’HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STITH, STYVAR, SWEENEY, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
  • Nays: BURKHART, CLAUSEN, FLITNER, GREEAR, KNAPP, LAURSEN, D, MACGUIRE, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WINTER

The legislation does not change the ability for road killed harvesting to be conducted for scientific purposes as is allowed under permits which are legal under existing law.

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