Every time I see roadkill on the side of the highway or road I wonder what happens to it. Does it stay there? Does someone come and pick it up and dispose of it? Do other animals eat it? Is it even safe to eat? Well, apparently, roadkill can be safe to eat, even for humans.

There are currently thirty states that allow for roadkill consumption by humans according to Wide Open Eats. Most states have restrictions including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Pennsylvania law states that the incident must be reported to the state Game Commission within 24 hours, otherwise it is not legal to consume the animal. In New Jersey, however, the only roadkill that is legal to consume is deer and you must have a permit to do so. Some neighboring states that join PA and NJ in this list are New York, Maryland, and Ohio.

Live Science reports that animals that die from injuries sustained after being hit by a car can be eaten safely given that you follow basic precautions. Nicole Meier, an information and education specialist at the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife provided some helpful information on how to determine if the animal you pick up is safe to eat.

Meier explains that if an animal has been sitting on the highway in high temperatures for more than 10-15 minutes you should be wary about consuming it. According to Live Science, she says, “when the weather is warm, roadkill flesh becomes a potential hotbed of microbes that could lead to illness.” Other factors to consider include placement of the animal. If the animal is in a dirty puddle, you should think twice about eating it Live Science says. Meier also says, “even if the carcass is cool, dry, and relatively clean, you would still need to make sure that the stomach and intestines weren't punctured; leaking gut bacteria could make the animal’s flesh inedible.”

On another note, if you don’t want to consume the animal, simply report it and call the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at 1-800-FIX-ROAD. I think I'll stick to eating meat from the grocery store though.


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