Is It Legal to Take a Deer Home That You Hit With Your Car in CO?
Lots of drivers in Colorado have had close calls with deer or other wildlife crossing the road in front of their cars. This often happens unexpectedly and in the blink of an eye, leaving little to no time for the driver to react. Unfortunately, in many vehicle vs. wildlife collisions, the animal involved is left deceased on the side of the street.
When this scenario occurs, the driver may be left wondering what to do about the animal's body. Should someone be called to remove the carcass? Or can the driver legally take it home with them, if they wish to do so?
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for the rules regarding roadkill in the Centennial State. If an individual strikes and kills an animal with their vehicle, they are able to go to CPW to obtain a permit to legally take the carcass home. CPW should be called within 48 hours of hitting the animal. Some state patrol officers and county sheriff's offices may also issue permits depending on where in the state it happens. Information including the location of where the incident occurred and the gender and type of animal involved must be provided to the wildlife officer before a permit is issued. A field officer may be sent to the site, in order to verify that the animal was actually hit and not illegally hunted or poached.
Colorado is one of quite a few states that allows its residents to take roadkill home to harvest the meat. Permits for taking home roadkill are free.
If someone hits a deer and does not want to take the carcass, they are not required to call CPW. Although a call to the local streets department is an option, so that someone can come and humanely remove the body. It's never a good idea to approach a deer (or any other animal) after it's been hit by a car - whether they appear to be dead or not.
Oftentimes, CPW lets nature run its course. Officers will drag the carcass away from the roadway so that other animals can eat the remains.
As a measure to prevent animal-vehicle collisions from taking place, special wildlife fencing and bridges have been installed along some major highways and roads throughout Colorado.
According to data collected by the Department of Transportation and CPW, 778 animals were struck by vehicles on the roads in Colorado in 2022. Deer accounted for 451 of those accidents.