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Q&A with Conservation Officer Scott Staples: How to properly acquire roadkill

Conservation Officer Scott Staples. Duluth News Tribune file

For some, spotting fresh roadkill on the side of the road is symbol of an unclaimed resource and a chance to acquire a cheap source of meat, but first, residents must obtain a permit before they can take that deceased animal home.

Carlton County Conservation Officer Scott Staples with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources answers the Pine Journal's questions about the proper protocol. Answers have been edited for clarity.

What animals require having a permit to possess them?

If they are considered a protected animal, they need a permit from us to possess it. When I say protected animal, I'm talking deer, bobcat, fox, racoon and other animals that have a season on them. We issue permits for animals that are considered protected and not under federal jurisdiction. Animals like skunks and coyotes are unprotected, so no permit would be needed there.

What birds are protected?

Most are protected. Most are actually under federal protection, like your song birds. Obviously, hawks, owls and eagles are all under federal protection and we don't issue permits for those. You have to go through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and they don't issue permits unless you're an educational institution, so like a school or museum, then you can get a permit to possess those, otherwise nobody can.

Where do people usually pick up the animal?

Usually, they call us right when they're at the scene of the animal. We tell them if they're OK to grab it and we'll get them a permit, but really, before they move it, they need permission from us because if we catch them down the road and they don't have a permit or anything and they have that protected animal in their possession, they're technically in violation. It's best to call us first and then you get it on record that you're OK to possess the animal, and then a permit will be coming.

Do people ever call just to ask if there's any unclaimed roadkill?

Yes. Every year, usually in the fall, we get people calling wanting to get roadkill deer for the meat. Usually, I can make a little bit of a list of people, or our Division of Fish and Wildlife can, so we can get a hold of them. Usually, they get scarfed up pretty quick though. Between the Sheriff's Office, state troopers and the Cloquet Police Department, we all issue roadkill deer permits, but for the other types of animals, it's pretty much through the DNR.

Is it pretty common for people to request roadkill permits?

Yes. We get calls quite often to get permits to possess animals and for the higher-desired fur-bearing animals like fisher, pine marten and bobcat. We've issue permits for them, but we don't issue those permits for people to sell them in the raw state — usually just for taxidermy or mounting purposes.

Andee Erickson

Andee Erickson has been a reporter with the Pine Journal since November 2018. She studied journalism and geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, while working at the Leader-Telegram newspaper on weekends. She graduated in 2018. Erickson's from southern Minnesota, but started viewing the north as home after interning for the Duluth News Tribune in the summer of 2017.