ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — If a deer jumps in front of your car while driving on a road in Illinois and is killed, you may be wondering: do I have the legal right to claim the carcass and eat it?

According to research done by State Farm, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation for animal collision claims. The company says that between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, Illinois drivers submitted a total of 21,891 claims and that most of those claims involved deer. 

Illinois is one of about 15 states that allows residents to claim roadkill deer, along with other animals killed on the roadways, for food or fur.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, if an Illinois resident crashes into a deer and kills it, the driver has legal priority over the deer carcass even if a hunter was chasing it.

If the driver who hit and killed the deer does not claim it, “any citizen of Illinois who is not delinquent in child support” can claim the carcass.

Illinois law specifically says non-Illinois residents cannot claim roadkill deer.

But, if you hit a deer and cripple it, and the animal survives, it is illegal for a motorist to kill it. Instead, drivers are required to call the nearest police or conservation officer on the non-emergency line.