House approves Chairman Bennett’s bill to modernize reporting of vehicle collisions with wildlife

 

STATE HOUSE — The House today voted to approve a bill from House Environment and Natural Resources Chairman David A. Bennett to change the procedures for reporting vehicle collisions with wildlife and for collecting the resulting roadkill for consumption.

The bill now moves the Senate which has already passed companion legislation (2024-S 2810aa) sponsored by Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Lincoln).

“As populations of large animals like deer, bears and turkeys increase in Rhode Island, an increase in vehicle collisions is bound to follow,” said Chairman Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston). “Widening the data DEM collects while streamlining the reporting process will give our biologists a better idea of what’s happening in our ecosystem. And allowing large animals killed in these collisions to be distributed to those who know how to process them will reduce waste and allow those who like game to enjoy it.”

The legislation (2024-H 7358A) would broaden reporting requirements for vehicle collisions with wildlife from only collisions with deer to any accident involving wildlife that substantially damage the vehicle, such as collisions with a turkey or bear. It would also make reporting these collisions easier for drivers by allowing them to report directly to the Department of Environmental Management through an online portal or dedicated phone number rather than having to contact a conservation officer. Data from wildlife collisions are used in statistical models by DEM to estimate wildlife population, so making reporting easier will help DEM develop more accurate projections.

It would also allow the state to salvage unwanted roadkill for general consumption. Currently under state law only the parties directly involved in the collision can salvage deer for their own enjoyment. This change will allow wildlife salvaged from a collision to be used by organizations or individuals who have the capability and desire to process it, reducing the food waste that occurs when someone without those capabilities collides with a deer or other wild animal.

“The New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers thanks Chairman Bennett for his continued commitment to Rhode Island’s wildlife and applauds the passage of H7358A,” said Mike Woods, chair of the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “By providing the Department of Environmental Management the authority to promulgate regulations controlling the reporting, possession and utilization of wildlife involved in vehicular collisions H7358A will enhance the state’s ability to monitor wildlife populations, while also easing an unnecessary burden on DEM’s Environmental Police and facilitating the responsible utilization of wildlife involved in vehicular collisions by the public.”

 

 

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