If you look closely at the annual news release put out by Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Department of Transportation warning residents of the dangers of motor vehicle collisions with deer, you’ll find a link to a page with a message that might surprise you:
Drivers who hit and kill a deer with a motor vehicle in Illinois have “first dibs” to claim the deer. And if the driver doesn’t claim the road kill, anyone can take it home.
According to the IDNR website, deer accidentally killed or injured by motor vehicles can be claimed as the property of the person who hit the deer.
There is no limit to the number of deer that may be possessed under these circumstances.
The IDNR “Claim a Road Kill” page cautions that no part of a deer so killed can be bartered or sold.
Except for law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties, it is illegal to kill a deer:
- crippled by a collision with a motor vehicle.
- crippled by methods other than lawful hunting unless permission has been obtained from a Conservation Police Officer. Click here for a contact list of officers by county.
The state of Illinois is absolved of any and all liability associated with the handling or utilization of vehicle-killed deer and deer killed by methods other than lawful hunting.
Motorists are also reminded to report deer-related traffic accidents to appropriate law enforcement agencies when such reporting is required.
Collision With a Motor Vehicle
An Illinois resident/driver of a motor vehicle involved in a vehicle-deer collision has priority in legally possessing white-tailed deer killed/injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle.
If the driver does not take possession of the deer before leaving the collision scene, any citizen of Illinois who is not delinquent in child support may possess and transport the deer.
Non-residents may not claim a road-killed deer. Individuals claiming such a deer must report the possession within 24 hours through our Claim a Road Kill Deer Report Form.
This form is for reporting possession of deer killed by vehicle collision only. Individuals without Internet access can report such possession by calling 217-782-6431 no later than 4:30 PM the next business day.
Deer Killed/Injured by Other Methods
Any individual finding a dead or crippled deer, other than those killed/injured in a vehicle/deer collision or legally taken by hunting methods, may not transport said deer parts until permission is obtained from a Conservation Police Officer.
Permission will be granted if it is determined that the person requesting possession did not illegally kill or injure the deer.
When retained, the head/antler and hide shall be properly tagged with an irremovable tag obtained from a Conservation Police Officer. These tags must remain attached as long as the head/antler or hide remains in the green state, or while in a commercial manufacturing process.
SOURCE: Illinois Department of Natural Resources website