April 2, 2013

3 Min Read

A dead deer stuffed into a garbage can and wheeled through a restaurant full of dining customers tends to attract attention.

During an otherwise ordinary lunch at the Red Flower Chinese Restaurant in Williamsburg, Ky., patrons were shoveling in the last remains of multiple buffet trips when two Red Flower employees pulled up in the parking lot in a vehicle with a large plastic trash can sticking out of the trunk. The workers wheeled the container through the front door and headed toward the back of the restaurant, mopping up a blood trail as they went, while dining customers watched the bizarre procession in shock and called a health inspector. "There was like a tail, and like a foot and leg sticking out of the garbage can and they wheeled it straight back into the kitchen," customer Katie Hopkins told WYMT-TV.

The health inspector arrived to catch the owners in flagrante delicto: A roadkill deer, which they had found on the side of a highway, was already gutted and ready for processing. The restaurant was shut down despite the protests of the Red Flower owner who brazenly claimed the meat was meant for his own family.

Roadkill is back in the news again, this time in a far less surreal manner as Montana is close to becoming the latest state to legalize roadkill salvage. Visible supporters of roadkill salvage include freegans and PETA, but also include food charities and soup kitchens that often welcome roadkill venison brought in by authorities. But as the Christian Science Monitor points out, "...questions are also emerging about the wisdom of licensing roadkill salvage outside of the federal inspection regime."

A few states have sign-up lists where game wardens will call participants to come and collect when fresh roadkill is found. Laws across the U.S. vary from complete roadkill freedom (Tennessee) to tag-and-take (Wyoming) to do-not-touch (California). About 1.5 million deer are killed by vehicles each year in the U.S. and most roadkill laws and regulations are aimed toward salvaging those deer carcasses — the meat prize for most roadkill collectors. But dwarfing the annual deer roadkill numbers, 1 million animals of all sorts are killed each day across the United States — a massive heap of raccoons, opossums, squirrels, armadillos, skunks, and other small game.


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So there's plenty of food on the shoulders of American roads waiting to be scraped up and thrown in the cook pot. But while the idea of tucking into a squished possum or swollen coon is revolting for most — consider Arthur Boyt, 73, an Englishman who is quite likely the leading roadkill eater on the planet. Thirty seven years ago, Boyt, a taxidermist who keeps a freezer stocked with roadkill of every stripe, went from mounting roadkill to eating roadkill and has never looked back. He is no run-of-the-mill eccentric; Boyt is a character too strange for fiction with a peculiar, but compelling personality. Speaking with sledgehammer honesty, Boyt makes it crystal clear there is nothing — absolutely nothing — he won't eat.

Boyt proudly told Vice about a putrid badger he put in a stew, "It made the house smell like the old fashioned mental hospitals used too, but boy it tasted delicious."

Mental hospitals?

Boyt, who comes across as the Hannibal Lecter of roadkill, must be seen to be believed. Written words do not come close to capturing Boyt, who is surely a case study in human oddity. See the video below to experience the incomparable Arthur Boyt, The Man Who Eats Roadkill.

Twitter: @CBennett71

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