“It really is a sin to waste a good meat,” said state Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman.Mr. Jent, you couldn't be more wrong. Few will stop to think whether the bible has something to say about roadkill!
Growing State Support of the Roadside LunchMontana bill HB 247 doesn't set specific guidelines for the legal parameters of roadkill salvage except for which animals are allowed. Rather, it gives the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission of Montana the authority to make and distribute permits for salvaging the carcasses, so it would be up to them to answer questions such as, "how long can it sit on the side of the road and still be legal to eat?" GROSS.
As it turns out, 14 other states already have laws allowing for the salvage of roadkill in one way or another - some for food, some for their pelts/skins, and some for both. For example, it's legal in Illinois for anyone with a hunting/trapping license to scavenge roadkill for food as long as the animal in question is in season. In Alaska, a state government agency collects meat from roadside moose carcasses and donates it to charities that feed the needy - I guess if you're that desperate you don't really care where it comes from!
The arguments in favor of these programs are all about pragmatism: if the food is safe to eat, why not let it be used rather than wasted?
God's Food Laws
God has 3 main laws governing what we eat on a daily basis, with a few extra restrictions on a few days a year.
- God distinguishes between which animals we may eat (clean) and which ones we may not eat (unclean) in Leviticus 11.
- We are not to eat blood (Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 17:14, Acts 15:20). This includes both draining the blood and using it in cooking as well as eating meat that is not properly drained of blood.
- Even of those animals which are clean to eat, they cannot be eaten if they die in the wild. In fact, these dead animals shouldn't even be touched, as the following scriptures show:
And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts... he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.
And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.
My Apologies, Mr. JentWhat implications do God's laws have for roadkill? While State Senator Jent quipped that it's "a sin to waste good meat" that can be taken from roadkill, God's law makes it clear that roadkill is not good meat! In fact, we'll see that it would be a sin to eat it.
In Montana and Alaska, since all of the animals in question are considered biblically clean (they have both a split hoof and chew the cud). But in Illinois you can lawfully scavenge raccoon, opossum, and other animals with paws, which is contrary to the scripture since land animals must have split hooves to be considered clean, and animals with paws are specifically prohibited in Leviticus 11:27. So what about clean animals hit by cars?
I submit that animals killed by cars fall into the same category as those that "died naturally" or were "torn by wild beasts" in Leviticus 17:15 and 11:39. The state laws that I have seen do not specify that you have to be the one who hit the animal or to have been there when it happened - it seems that you can take whatever you find, provided you have a license. I'm not aware of any laws in the bible dealing with what to do if you find an animal in the wild that another person has killed and left there, since that would certainly add to the discussion; however, this is not the end of what the bible has to say!
While many people may simply see my concerns about clean and unclean as a bunch of Old Testament nonsense, the New Testament is very clear that Christians cannot simply eat whatever they want! I do believe that all of God's food laws are valid for Christians, but the prohibition against eating blood in the New Testament is thoroughly undeniable. Acts 15:20 warns the Gentiles coming into the Church not to eat blood and not to eat animals that are strangled rather than slaughtered by conventional methods - presumably because the blood was not properly drained. A similar prohibition applies here, since an animal that dies from car impact would be subject to all kinds of internal bleeding, possibly making it difficult to remove the blood when trying to prepare the meat.
Many Christians are not aware that God very specifically prohibits eating blood, and far fewer are aware that God outlaws many animals entirely! If we really want to please God, we have to know what the bible says and do it.
Romans 2:13Not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.