SAN ANTONIO—A candidate for the Texas House wants to see the state offer up a new kind of roadside dining.

Rack of raccoon or smidgen of pigeon would be on the menu if legislators were to take up a call by Tink Nathan to allow motorists to collect and consume roadkill. Gathering it currently is a misdemeanor.

"That meat goes to waste. Why not utilize it?" asked Nathan, 72.

The suggestion to expand the state's culinary options sets Nathan apart from the four other Republicans looking to succeed longtime state Rep. Harvey Hilderbran in District 53, which extends northwest of San Antonio to the border.

Nathan pointed out that harvesting and eating roadkill is legal in other states.

The Center Point resident told the San Antonio Express-News that each dead deer could yield about 80 pounds of usable meat and cited records that show 1,450 deer were removed from state highways in Kerr County alone in 2006.

"Certainly not all of it could be saved. Nobody will take it if it's stinking," Nathan said, adding, "Axis (deer) venison sells for $26 a pound."

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Tom Harvey said the agency has no stance on the idea, but added that there are public health and safety issues.

"People stopping on roadsides to harvest dead animals could be struck by vehicles. Eating dead animals found on roadsides could make people sick," he said.

Allowing the retrieval of animals accidentally killed could encourage poaching with cars, Harvey added. Hunting white-tailed deer by striking them with a motor vehicle is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Using artificial lights, including vehicle headlights, to hunt is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine, he said.

Customer requests to process roadkill are rare at Klein Smokehaus in Boerne, owner Claire Klein said.

"In the Texas heat, I wouldn't touch them unless you saw it killed and immediately field dressed it," she said.

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com

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Information from: San Antonio Express-News, http://www.mysanantonio.com