Forget roadside diners; the latest hot trend in food is roadkill dinners. There’s a new state law in Montana that makes it legal for people who find dead deer, elk, moose or antelope, or happen to hit and kill one with their car, to haul the carcass home. Up until now, anyone who picked up roadkill because they didn’t want good meat to go to waste risked being arrested for hunting wild game without a license. 

But with the new “roadkill possession” permit, any dead game animal is up for grabs. The basic rules are this: 
  • You have to haul away the whole animal. You can’t just take the “good parts” and leave the rest by the side of the road.  

  • And authorities are keeping a database of roadkill “harvests” to make sure people aren’t deliberately running down animals with their cars. And several other states have similar laws, including Georgia, Colorado, and Kentucky. There’s even the annual RoadKill Cook-Off in West Virginia, which attracts more than 20,000 visitors. Cook-Off entries have included possum stew, venison teriyaki, whole rattlesnake with gravy. And last year’s winner was Stuffed Bear with Groundhog Gravy. 

But cooking up roadkill stews and steaks can get complicated. Wild game processor Nick Bennet says the meat has to be fresh and not too bruised. He suggests sticking with whole animals and to look for signs of freshness like clear eyes. After all, cooking a not-so-fresh animal could make everyone who eats it really sick. Montana legislator Steve Lavin says that nearly 8,000 animal carcasses are collected by his state’s Department of Transportation every year. And he says why not use the meat instead of throwing it away? Roadkill: It’s what’s for dinner.