From Aberdeen to Zillah, Camano Island to Rock Island, Naselle to Newport, folks far and wide took advantage of the first full year of Washington’s roadkill salvaging rule.
More than 1,600 dead deer and elk were hauled off the sides of the state’s highways and byways between the time the program began on July 1, 2016 and June 30 of this year.
True, that’s just a small fraction of last fall’s hunting harvest and not meant to replace it any way.
But the meat that otherwise would have fed coyotes and crows or just rotted in the ditch or a DOT dumping ground instead provided nourishment to families around Washington.
And hopefully, data reported by salvagers will help the state better focus its efforts to prevent roadkill and improve highway safety — the program is the brainchild of a state Fish and Wildlife Commission member who lives near a very bad stretch of US 97 in Okanogan County.
In the meanwhile, a WDFW spreadsheet for all 1,610 deer and elk also provides interesting details on the agency’s most popular move in recent years.
PERMITS BY MONTH
The month with the highest number of salvage permits issued was November 2016, with 319, followed by October with 293 and December with 141.
The lowest months were the last three, May 2017 (51), April (63) and June (72).
Salvagers reported collecting 20 roadkilled deer and elk on November 18th, 19 deer on Nov. 10th and the same number of deer and elk on Nov 13th, as well as 18 deer and elk on Nov. 6th.
(Oct. 17 also had 18 roadkills.)
People undoubtedly were concerned with other things on the 24th of the month — Thanksgiving — but two animals were collected and four reports filed that day (you have 24 hours to record a salvaging).
(Someone in Okanogan also went home with a deer on Christmas.)
No sooner had the program gone into effect last year than did Naselle and Sequim residents collect the first elk and deer — the former outside their hometown on the morning of July 1, the latter near the Dungeness River bridge that afternoon.
Hard to say when the first whitetail and muley were salvaged, but likely between July 5 and 7 when reports were filed by residents of Cheney, Kettle Falls and Moses Lake.
According to WDFW, among the 1,610 deer and elk were:
1,427 blacktails, whitetails and muleys and 183 elk.
Note that deer in three Southwestern Washington counties — Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum — can’t be collected because of issues with ESA-listed Columbian whitetails there.
833 does and cows, and 691 bucks and bulls.
43 were marked down as unknown sex.
BY ANTLER POINTS
A bull elk reported by an Auburn resident was written up as having “25” points.
Salvagers are asked to input the location of where they picked up their deer or elk.
They came from just about everywhere inside Washington, but also the very edges of the state — from the southernmost spot east of Washougal, to just south of the British Columbia border in Blaine and Oroville, and from the mouth of Hells Canyon at the easternmost point of the state, to the Quileute Cemetery by La Push at its western edge.
Seattleites have little appetite for roadkill, and the same goes for residents of other cities in the core of Pugetropolis.
Hard to say why that might be — perhaps just a function of availability of roadkilled deer and elk along typical travel routes and/or the ability/facilities to butcher any … or we’re just weak-stomached wusses.
But outside those parts, boy howdy, did folks take advantage of the opportunity!
Here are how many salvage permits were filed by city:
Port Angeles: 43
East Wenatchee: 22
Bonney Lake: 15
Buckley : 14
Maple Valley: 13
Oak Harbor: 13
Port Orchard: 13
Moses Lake: 12
Walla Walla: 12
Cle Elum: 11
Mount Vernon: 10
Port Townsend: 10
If your hometown isn’t listed here, nine or fewer residents obtained a salvage permit.
OUT-OF-STATE COLLECTORS TOO
Of note, five Oregonians collected a roadkilled deer or elk in Washington, as did two Idahoans, one Californian and one New Yorker.
When folks fill out their forms, they include humdrum details about the wheres and whens, but also sometimes poignant information about the circumstances. Some examples:
“She was about 3 miles north of Duvall on west side of 203, just north of a barn with two large silos. She had been eating apples.”
“By Peshastin pinnacles”
“Just up river from reds fly shop about .25 miles ”
“Male & female elk killed on 452nd St North Bend”
“Yearling hit by a passing pickup salvaged at once”
“Deer was hit right after the 35MPH sign going into electric city from grand coulee.”
“was driving outside Naches towards bald mountain and hit a doe with my truck.”
“The deer was hit directly in front of my house. The same address where the meat will be stored as listed above”
“I-90 East Bound, South Side of highway, about 2 miles past the WSDOT ‘Elk Ahead’ Readerboard.”
“Officer Kit Rosenberger responded to call of injured deer. He euthanized the deer and gave permission for salvage.”
“A white honda civic hit the deer on north bound I-5 about 5 miles outside of Bellingham.”
“when hiking up at a friends. me and a friend of mine found a mule deer buck hit by a car off the road a ways. ”
“I was driving on hwy 12 just west of the oak creek feeding station. I was going to pull the elk off the road when a WSP Trooper showed up and I decided to salvage the elk, so we went from there.”
“I did not hit the deer but it was very fresh. I did not witness the deer getting hit but it was not badly damaged. It is a very small deer but I did not want to let it go t waste. The mile marker I saw was 411.”
“Deer was struck by an unknown vehicle in front of my home, there were pieces of the vehicle’s front end on the ground nearby. I arrived and found the doe to be deceased but still warm. ”
“A lady hit the deer with her SUV about 2 miles west of Darrington. I was on my way home from work and stopped to assist the driver. She informed me of the deer and said the accident was reported, and a tow truck was on it’s way and she was not injured. I asked if she was interested in the salvage of the doe. She was not. I loaded the animal between 6:30 and 7:00 pm. I hope I was able to give you all the information needed. Thank you for your time, and happy holidays.”