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Roadkill removal made easy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- So I get this phone call. "I need your advice," said the woman, a family friend who, from time to time, draws upon my knowledge of outdoors- and nature-related things.

"There's a dead deer in our yard, a doe. I've looked her over and can't find any visible injuries other than some foam around her mouth. I think maybe she got hit by a car, ran down the hill and died in my yard."

I told her it sounded plausible. Her house sits just 100 yards or so off a busy stretch of four-lane highway, and the surrounding area is loaded with deer.

"What should I do about it?" my friend asked. "I can't just have a dead doe lying there in my yard. Does someone operate a deer disposal service?"

"No, there isn't one, unfortunately. Your best bet is probably to take the carcass and dispose of it somewhere out of the way."

"Could I get in trouble?"

"Hmm. Well, I guess that's possible. Someone could see you dumping a dead doe and assume you poached it. It probably would be a good idea to let the authorities know what you're planning to do."

"Well, I've already called the [Division] of Highways, so at least I'm on the record there," she said.

"If I were you, I'd call the Natural Resources Police and let them know, too," I advised. "They have law-enforcement authority over the state's wildlife, so it would be a good idea to call the district office and let them know what's going on."

"OK, how do I reach them?" she asked.

I had the office's number at my fingertips, and I gave it to her. She thanked me and signed off. I hung up the phone and went back to work.

An hour or so later, she called back, giggling.

"You're not going to believe what just happened," she said. "My son came home and found a truck parked half in our yard and half in the street. The truck didn't appear to have a driver, but someone had put the dead deer in the bed of the truck.

"[My son] looked around for a minute to try to find the driver but didn't turn anyone up, so he came inside the house and called me. We wondered if [my husband] might have sent someone over to pick up the deer, and we were talking about that possibility when [my son] walked over and peeked through the blinds to see if the truck's driver had showed up.

"About the time [my son] looked out the window, he saw a guy jump out of the bushes near the house, hop into the truck and drive away. Can you believe that?"

I laughed and said, "It sounds like someone was hungry for a little roadkill."

"Ew. Would the meat be any good?"

"Well, the deer had been dead only a few hours on a cool, rainy day, so chances are the meat hadn't had an opportunity to spoil," I replied. "I figure that guy will have the carcass gutted and cut up within a couple of hours, so he should be OK."

"Well, he sure saved me and my family some hassle," she said. "I just wish he'd given us a chance to thank him!"

Later, my wife and I received a text message from her:

"Maybe I should put a sign up on [the highway] if this ever happens again."

I laughed.

"Yeah, the sign could say, 'Fresh road-killed deer, free to anyone willing to carry it away.'"


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