Question: If a person hits a deer with their vehicle, can they keep the deer? Is it legal to eat roadkill?

Answer: To answer both of your questions, yes. Law enforcement should issue a “possession permit” any time a person takes a vehicle-killed deer. The permit must stay with the meat as long as any of it remains in possession.

Deer-vehicle crashes peak in the autumn months, but Minnesota’s large deer population makes them a safety hazard on the road year-round. Deer crashes are especially dangerous for motorcyclists — a group which accounted for 17 of the 20 vehicle-deer related deaths over a five year period (2015-2019).

  • In the last five years (2015–2019) in Minnesota, 20 people died in 7,247 deer crashes reported to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
  • The 7,247 deer crashes also led to 121 serious injuries and 105 of those people were motorcyclists.

Here are tips to stay safe around deer on the road.

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Motorists:

  • Don’t swerve to avoid a deer. Swerving can cause you to lose control and travel off the road or into oncoming traffic.
  • Drive at safe speeds and always buckle up.

Motorcyclists:

  • Avoid night and low-light riding periods.
  • A rider’s best response when encountering a deer is to use both brakes for maximum braking and to keep your eyes and head up to improve your chances of keeping the bike up.
  • If a crash is imminent and there is enough space to swerve around the deer without leaving the roadway, use maximum braking and just before impact, attempt a swerve in the opposite direction the deer is traveling.
  • Riders are encouraged to wear full face helmets and full protective gear to prevent injury or death in a crash.
  • High visibility gear can assist other driver’s in seeing you better, whether it’s while making an evasive maneuver to avoid a deer or lying on the roadway after hitting a deer.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us).