Alaska Wildlife Troopers roadkill salvage program goes electronic

Channel 2 Morning Edition (6 a.m.)
Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Although the Alaska Roadkill Salvage Program has been around for about two decades, Alaska Wildlife Troopers Captain Derek Degraaf said they’re trying to improve participation and knowledge about it. As a way to make it a more efficient program, AWT has switched it to a more streamlined online application.

Degraaf explained that the program is meant to cut down on wasted meat and ensure that it gets safely eaten, as well as get moose hit on the road removed in a timely manner.

He said volunteers need to be quick if they are called, showing up no later than 30 minutes after the moose gets hit. They also have to have the proper equipment to remove the large animals.

Before now, Degraaf said dispatchers would have to fumble through spreadsheets and Excel documents to call organizations on the list to retrieve the meat. He said sometimes the information would even be outdated. This process took up a lot of time, and made it more difficult for the volunteers to get out to the roadkill before it went bad.

“Now we modernized it and put it online so it’s much easier for people to sign up and it’s easier for us to manage,” Degraaf said.

Degraaf explained further that it’s not always roadkill that troopers need help salvaging. Sometimes hunters will kill a moose or catch a fish that they weren’t supposed to on accident. Troopers don’t want that meat to go to waste, either. He encourages people who find themselves in this position to give them a call.

“Typically most of those folks will receive a very small citation,” Degraaf said. “Typically of about a $300 fine. But we don’t seize any of their equipment, we don’t seize any of their guns, the meat goes to a charity, and it’s just a very small slap on the wrist.”

On the other hand, for those hunters and anglers who don’t call it in and get caught with the illegal kill, he said the fines could be thousands of dollars and even result in a misdemeanor offense.

AWT spokespeople clarified that those registered for the salvage program can take the meat for themselves, or bring it to a charity.

At places like Bean’s Cafe, Chief Operating Officer Scott Lingle said a fully grown moose can go a long way for their services, and they don’t have the ability to salvage it themselves.

“We just don’t have the ability to really be able to do that on a regular basis or on much of a basis at all,” Lingle said. “A 900 pound moose is going to feed us 800-900 people’s worth (of) meals.”

He said on a daily basis, Bean’s Cafe gives out about 1,400 meals. They manage to meet those needs every day, but salvaged meat helps the organization a lot.

Lingle said he understands and respects people who sign up with the roadkill program and feed their families for long periods of time with the salvaged meat. He also said bringing even a part of a salvaged moose to Bean’s Cafe makes a huge difference to the people using the shelter, who are oftentimes from rural Alaska and grew up eating moose and other wild game.

And it’s not just about putting food in people’s mouths.

“It brings a great sense of comfort,” Lingle said. “Like, ‘oh, I had this when I was a kid. My grandmother made this. My auntie made this. Our village made this.’ And so, it calms everyone down. It brings them to a place of comfort.”

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