Wreaths, Christmas trees, windchimes, chandeliers. If you type the words “antler crafts” in the search bar on Pinterest, you’ll get dozens of ideas that would elevate the decor of any Idaho home with a rustic theme. A vehicle collision with a deer is a dangerous way to get antlers for your projects, but should it happen to you…are you legally allowed to take them home with you?

According to World Population Review, Idaho has the largest deer population in the Western United States. Combined, there are an estimated 770,000 white-tailed and mule deer wandering the Gem State. Montana ranks a distant second for the region with an estimated population of 463,000 deer. 

Photo by Ross Stone on Unsplash
Photo by Ross Stone on Unsplash
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Their natural migration patterns often lead to them trying to cross Idaho highways, putting both the deer and drivers at risk. Idaho’s development boom has also displaced a significant amount of deer. With their homes taken away, they may find themselves wandering onto busy city streets near the Boise River. Parkcenter is a perfect example. It’s not unusual to watch them try to cross near our office, to get to Kristen Armstrong Municipal Park. 

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According to the Idaho Transportation Department’s 2022 “Idaho Traffic Crashes” report there were more than 1,600 crashes involving wild animals last year.  One of those crashes was fatal for a motorist. Another 12 were suspected to have caused serious injuries. More than 1,400 of the wild animal crashes involved property damage like totaled cars or smashed-up grills, bumpers, mirrors, and windshields. 

If I Hit a Deep, Can I Keep the Meat?

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Getty Images
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We mean, this is a completely unorthodox way to enjoy venison but if you really want to, the answer is yes. Idaho has a wildlife collision rule that allows people who accidentally hit certain animals to salvage them for meat. Both Mule Deer and White-tailed deer are on the approved list. If you come across a deer that was killed in a vehicle crash that you weren’t involved with, you’re welcome to salvage it. 

However, you must report the salvage to Fish & Game within 24 hours and get a salvage permit within 72. They have a link set up where you can do both of those things online and print out your free permit at home. Fish and Game reminds you that the meat does NOT meet Idaho FDA requirements. You’re eating that roadkill meat at your own risk.

I Don’t Want the Meat! Can I Just Take the Antlers?

Photo by Livin4wheel on Unsplash
Photo by Livin4wheel on Unsplash
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Yes, under this law you are permitted to harvest just the antlers if you’d like. According to the Spokesman-Review, that’s something that hunters are not allowed to do. Under Idaho’s hunting laws, hunters are required to remove and care for the edible meat of a deer. 

Fun fact? If you come across a deer that died of natural causes like being attacked by a predator or perishing due to winter weather, you can take their antlers home without a permit. That sounds a lot safer than hitting the deer!

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