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If I hit a deer with my car can I keep it?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Hunting Regulations |

It’s that time of year. Sure, it’s time for the holidays where you hopefully get to spend more time with your loved ones and share in family traditions. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about that time of year when wildlife becomes more prevalent on the roadways and roadkill becomes a common sight. If you hit a deer or other animal with your vehicle, you might feel like it’s a waste to just leave it there to rot. So, you might be asking yourself if you can take an animal home with you if you’ve hit it with your car.

Michigan’s salvage law

The answer is “yes,” depending on the animal and circumstances involved. The law strictly forbids you to take possession of certain animals such as badger, duck, elk, and moose, but you can take a deer home with you if you follow few steps.

First, you have to obtain a salvage tag from the Department of Natural Resources. This requires you to fill out a simple form. Then, you either have to inform the Department of Natural Resources or local law enforcement of your intent to keep the deer. You can do this by calling them directly or contacting them online. If you call 9-1-1 following your accident, then you must also specify your intent to keep the deer at that time.

Know the limitations of the law

You have a lot of leeway to keep a deer if you’ve killed or injured it with your car and subsequently euthanized it in accordance with the law, but you should be aware of some of the law’s limitations. For example, you can’t keep a deer if you intentionally strike it with your vehicle. Also, if you’ve hit and killed another animal, then you’ll need to follow the legal process for claiming it, as it likely varies from the process that applies to keeping a deer.

In other words, if you want to avoid a hunting violation, then you need to know the law and how to navigate it to your advantage. If you have questions about how to do so, then we encourage you to speak with an attorney who is well versed in this area of the law.

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