Roadkill Meat is it Safe to Eat?

If you bump into something with your car and his ticker is no longer ticking then that critter can look like a pretty tempting free meal. 

No one wants to see good food go to waste when with just a little extra preparation it could be sitting on your dining room table and just waiting for you to come and eat. There are some very good roadkill and wild game recipe cookbooks on the market and it is always a wise idea to keep one close by. Let's face the facts. Salvageable roadkill meat can look just so much better on your table or in the freezer than it does left laying on the side of the street.

So what exactly is roadkill? Roadkill is any animal that has been struck and killed by a motor vehicle. It is estimated that 1.5 million deer are killed annually on U.S. highways. Other large roadkill animals include bear, elk, moose, and the occasional Caribou.

Smaller animals hit by vehicles include raccoons, skunks, possums, squirrels, chipmunks, armadillos, mice, frogs, snakes, fox, otters and many others. Fluttering, flying, waddling, and walking birds are also frequently killed on local highways.

Roadkill are also referred to as flat meats. Roadkill can be virtually any member of your local wild animal population. It is important to note that people who are struck by vehicles do not fall under the classification of roadkill.

The costs of removing roadkill from local highways is high. Not only must contractors be paid a fee for picking up the carcass but then comes the dilemma of how to dispose of all those dead bodies once they are gathered. With an estimated 1.5 million deer alone being killed on U.S. roads each year the costs of roadkill disposal world wide can be extremely expensive. Roadkill is burned, buried, rendered, eaten by scavengers, donated to local charities, used by trappers as bait, and sometimes gobbled up as roadkill by the person who hit it. Some states have even turned to composting the carcasses.

In Tennessee a republican senator named Ted Burchett wanted to pass a proposal which essentially would read ''Wild animals accidentally killed by a motor vehicle may be possessed by any person for personal use and consumption'' thus opening up roadkill for the taking by locals. Unfortunately for some unforeseen reason the local media had a hay-day with this concept and it quickly became known as the "Roadkill bill". Personally I think that if it were legal you can bet there would be more than a few cities which would feature a roadkill cafe.

Critters dash, flutter, fly, slither, scamper, and hop onto the road. Even our winged friends such as songbirds, ducks, geese, and pheasant show up as roadkill on our highways. Large animals such as moose, elk, and deer are frequent road kill victims and can prove very dangerous as such but even elusive creatures such as bear, beaver, and wolverine show up as victims on our roads. Yep, if a critter is out running around your neighbourhood then you are likely gonna find it laying on the side of the road one day. That is when a good old fashioned wild game cookbook comes in mighty darn handy.

Cooking wild meat often has very different flavouring needs than your traditional beef or pork pot roast does. I've heard that wild turkey taste a bit like pine needles. Deer, moose, and elk can also be a little gamie tasting so it is often nice to give these meats a special marinating to have them tasting like you want them to. Gnaw on that for awhile.

It is important to note that consuming roadkill can be hazardous to your health. All roadkill should be thoroughly examined and cleaned of embedded rocks, twigs, and dirt before cooking. Choking on a rock can be dangerous and those twigs can be mighty darn pokey. Wild animals may also have a parasite or two that you certainly want to insure is cooked to a crisp before you chow down on it.

How do you know which roadkill is safe to eat? While roadkill does have some advantages over commercial meat (the largest benefit being that it is free) there are also some definite safety precautions to take into account before you decide to chow down on that roadside carcass. This is where a roadkill cookbook can come in very handy.

1. Freshness is a major factor. Roadkill that you stumble upon may be best left where it is but if you killed the critter then the freshness of your meat is pretty much guaranteed and it is probably safe to it.

2. Always make sure that the animal really is dead before you strap it to the roof of your car, throw it in the back of your truck, or pop it into your trunk. Yes, animals have indeed woken up in a vehicle and not been too happy to discover that someone wanted to invite them home for dinner. 

3. How flat or smooshed up is it? Cause if the critter has internal gooshings mixed up in the meat then it is most likely not safe to eat. Get back in your vehicle and move on down the road.

It's important to recognize that wild meat is a little different from your tame variety. Does the carcass look like it came from a healthy animal. Fatter healthier animals are less likely to have some gosh awful disease lurking in their meat. Once you catch it then comes the challenge of learning to cook it. 

Roadkill is any animal or insect which is hit and killed by a bike, vehicle, or train on a route of transportation. Every now and then when a critter dashes out in front of your vehicle, well what's a person to do. It's a free meal waiting for a freezer to pop it into. Yep, some of the best meats to eat are those that creep up on you or jump out at you in the middle of the night. If you can't avoid them then you may as well eat them.

You can catch your own meat or pick it up as roadkill but either way it helps to know how to cook it up all nice and tasty. There is nothing like a really good recipe to set your taste buds to dancing on your tongue. Yummy. So grab a napkin and an apron and prepare to fix up some good old fashioned vittles.

Wild food is different from the processed commercial stuff that you purchase at your local department store. It doesn't contain preservatives but it may contain a few other surprises you weren't expecting. Reading through a wild meat cookbook may be a darn good idea so you'll be prepared.

Know the roadkill regulations for your area. Don't just presume that if you killed it that it is yours to keep. It is always safest to be aware of the regulations in your area for laying claim to roadkill. Although some provinces, counties, and states throughout Canada and the U.S. want you to contact them when an animal collision occurs they will often issue you a tag to keep it and once they do then that roadkill is officially yours to eat but be aware that there are some areas of the country where roadkill is completely off limits to those who create it. In these jurisdictions you are in no way, shape, or form, allowed to eat what you kill. Having a sense of humour helps with most issues including losing out on the free meat you thought was yours.

Although wild game generally has substantially leaner meat (without the antibiotics and other additives which often wind up in commercially processed meat) wild meat does come with other issues. Wild game meat can contain worms, or other disease, and not be safe to eat. Always cook wild game thoroughly before consuming it.

The following are a few weird and wacky road kill facts that you probably don't want to know but which I will still enlighten you with. Did you know that in Illinois you are not entitled to roadkill if you are delinquent in your child support payments. Things are worse in Texas where residents are officially discouraged from eating roadkill. Huh now who would have thought that?

In an average year in British Columbia, Canada there are 9280 reported animal collisions resulting in 4 reported human deaths and 4900 animal deaths. Actual animal roadkill death statistics are estimated to be much higher than those recorded.

Along bogs, swamps, and other wetlands the majority of roadkill (up to 95 percent) can be frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians.

Rednecks and Roadkill? Rednecks have long been associated with the term roadkill and with logical reasoning. Typically shunned by those who perceived themselves as being of a higher class than them these back country folks were forced to rely on their wits to make ends meet. They hunted, farmed, and scavenged the local countryside for their food sources. If a free meal presents itself to them it was a temptation that was difficult to simply pass by. 

Roadkill Cuisine Wikipedia Article contains a listing of the calories, fat, and cholesterol in common wild game that is most likely to show up as roadkill.

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