Say you're driving down the road at dusk on Highway 42 East of Sioux Falls coming back from Brandon. Suddenly a deer jumps up onto the road in front of the vehicle ahead of you. That car hits the deer leaving it beside the road seriously injured. What can you do?

In South Dakota you are allowed to euthanize an animal that is seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident. According to SDCL 41-1-12, if you have the means, skill, and will to do so, you can end the animal's suffering. You must also report the incident to the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks within 24 hours.

Now can you keep that deer? Yes, you can. SDCL 4-1-5.7 allows you to take possession of a deer or antelope after notifying a conservation officer.

41-1-5.7. Disposition of deer and antelope killed by motor vehicle. If any deer or antelope is killed by a motor vehicle on a public highway, any person who desires to possess that animal shall notify a conservation officer, as defined by § 41-15-10, prior to taking possession of the animal. The conservation officer may give a dated and written authorization allowing possession of the animal. The conservation officer may give verbal authorization to take immediate possession of the animal prior to receipt of the written authorization. The written authorization allows the possession and disposal of the animal. The written authorization shall remain with the carcass while in processing or storage. No part of an animal so obtained may be sold, bartered or traded. There is no fee for the issuance of such authorization.

I know, it seems weird to pick up "road kill" but there is some really good meat that may not be destroyed in the accident and I would be willing to pick it up if it was still fresh. It would be a complete waste to simply throw the carcass out. I have a friend who did this once. He ended up with a freezer full of meat. In the heat of summer you would probably want to take care of gutting the animal immediately. That is why I keep a hunting knife in my truck, just in case. If the deer is smashed up pretty bad I don't think I would try to butcher it.


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