I found a dead animal on the public highway: what should I do?


When you find a dead animal on the public highway, you can move on without making much of the situation. We can also, if it involves game for example, be tempted to take advantage of the situation and pick up the corpse so that we can eat it if we judge that the death is recent and that this does not pose a risk to the health. So the natural reaction certainly varies depending on the animal and according to our education and our values. But do you know the legal provisions that can govern such a situation? This article aims to remind you of some fundamentals in order to allow you to react in the most appropriate way.

Ensure your safety

Above all, ensure your safety and that of those accompanying you. If you find a dead animal on the road, consider the amount of traffic and whether or not it is reasonable to stop. If you are on the highway, remember that article R421-7 of the highway code emphasizes that “unless absolutely necessary, drivers must not stop or park their vehicle on the roads and shoulders, including on the emergency lanes of motorways.” The presence of a dead animal is not one of the cases of absolute necessity, of which there are only four:

Involvement in a traffic accident; A vehicle breakdown and the inability to get to the next exit or rest area; A load lost or at risk of being lost; A medical reason that prevents driving.

If you wish to report this event because you consider it likely to affect motorist traffic, several possibilities are available to you:

Use the free SOS Autoroute application; Use the orange emergency call point that you will find at a rest area; Call 112, the European emergency number, to contact law enforcement in the area concerned.

Off a motorway, you must park your vehicle in a safe place, put on your hazard lights, wear a reflective vest and place a safety triangle on the road, at a distance of at least 30 meters upstream from your body.

Evaluate the situation

Once you are safe, examine the situation. It is possible that the animal is immobile but not deceased. Approach with caution and observe from a distance for visible injuries. Try to determine whether it is a domestic or wild animal.

Using your information, the authorities will be able to decide what measures to take.

Contact the relevant authorities

The next step is to notify the relevant authorities of the presence of the dead or injured animal. Call the police or gendarmerie by dialing 17. They will direct you to the appropriate services to handle the situation.

Report the incident to the town hall

In addition to informing the authorities, it is recommended to contact the town hall of the town where you found the animal. They can also take steps to properly collect and dispose of the animal. Obviously, it all depends on the time at which you are faced with the situation: this is not always possible.

Do not touch the animal

Your instinct may urge you to help an injured animal, it is essential not to give in to good intentions impulsively. It is strongly recommended to never touch the body of a deceased animal (even if it is still alive) because it could carry diseases. Keep children and pets away to avoid injury and the spread of disease. If material comes into contact with the carcass of the dead animal, it must be carefully disinfected with bleach or thrown into the garbage.

Even if you are tempted to salvage the carcass, don’t do it. In France, the collection and disposal of animal corpses on public roads falls under the jurisdiction of the State.

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