Proposed road-kill law DOA
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>Even with no opposition to the idea locally, and a lot of interest it generated nationally, the process of getting it on the ballot proves to be too muchThe petition that would change the law, allowing people to salvage road-kill under certain circumstances has itself apparently become road-kill. That is the latest from the sponsor of the idea, John Wakeman and Sheila Clauson.
But whether dead or not, the proposal did get some attention. Wakeman said after presenting his idea to the local public, about 1,000 people came into the Prineville 7-Eleven store to sign the petition. It turned out, however, that the petition was not legal and to do any good he needed about 65,000 more signatures.
Wakeman, owner of the convenience store, and store manager Sheila Clauson first came up with the idea after seeing "a large bodied spike/fork buck groping for its last few minutes of life after being struck by a vehicle..." The deer was still alive but severely injured and Wakeman immediately called authorities to get someone to come dispatch the animal.
Warned that it was illegal to even touch the deer, Wakeman could only stand by and watch as the suffering animal died.
Wakeman believes that if the deer had been cared for immediately it would have made good eating. Instead, it was, in his view, wasted. Let's introduce a law, he proposed, that would "allow a citizen to call authorities and be granted a control number prior to removing the game so it could be properly cared for without fear of jail time for doing the right thing by not wasting good food."
In the next few days, people coming into his store began showing their agreement by signing the petition he had placed on the counter. News of his proposal spread. Soon Wakeman and Clauson were fielding calls from all over the state. The so-called "road kill law" was talked about on a number of radio talk shows; Paul Harvey mentioned it, even Jay Leno reportedly used the idea in his monologue.
"A reporter from a newspaper in Washington, D.C. called," Wakeman said, "but we didn't respond."
Closer to home, Z-21 interviewer Andy Andrews interviewed Wakeman and Clauson. That interview is set to be broadcast on Andrew's show, Matter of Fact, Sunday.
But for all the coverage, the proposal is itself, to use the term, road kill. "We found out that all our signatures are null and void," Wakeman said. "To be legal, we have to go through the process."
That means getting 25 signatures on a form, which the state)s Attorney General's office has to approve so the correct petition can be circulated, in order to gather at least 66,000 signatures of Oregon voters. Just to get the proposal on the ballot. "I don't have the financial resources for that," Wakeman explained. Plus most of those signatures would have to come from the Portland metro area, and those voters might not understand about road kill, rural Oregon-style.
The reporter from Washington, D.C. certainly didn't, according to Wakeman. "His concept of road-kill was a lot different, of being a bird lying along the street, not a recently killed deer."
The local support for the proposed law was overwhelming, Wakeman said, no opposition at all. But that wasn)t enough and now, well, he said he was just going to wait and see what comes from Sunday's television show on Z-21.