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As We See It

Mattresses, peacock meat and other roadside scores

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Roadkill casserole may soon be a legal delicacy in Montana, where a bill awaits only the governor’s signature to allow residents to scrape up and cook the mangled carcasses of deer, elk, moose and antelope.

Southern Nevadans don’t see much big game on the roadsides, unless you count furniture and those ominous heavy-duty trash bags … If Montana can salvage rotting meat, can’t Nevada repurpose ottomans? In all seriousness, we shouldn’t harvest what’s been lost or illegally dumped (it’s unsafe—plus, someone might come after that ottoman). For fun, though, we asked the Nevada Department of Transportation and Clark County Public Works what they’ve seen, edible or otherwise.

NDOT Public Information Officer Scott Magruder has spotted ladders, shovels, brooms and paint buckets. “Our guys will talk about finding one couch cushion. And you know those people are so mad,” he says with a chuckle, adding that NDOT crews mostly clear old tires and construction debris, maybe some Christmas trees after the holidays.

Allen Pavelka manages roads for the Public Works Maintenance Division, and his team mainly sees dead cats and dogs, with a few chickens, pot-bellied pigs, coyotes and raccoons. They even found a peacock once. “We get washers and dryers that people dump off their trucks, couches, chairs. Just last year, a boat was dropped off,” he says. “It looked like the trailer, they might have lost a wheel and figured it wasn’t worth saving or something.”

That’s the problem with the guerilla-salvage model. Whether it’s a mattress or a shoe, Pavelka says urban flotsam is pretty beaten up and usually goes to the landfill. And the trash bags contain trash (not dead bodies!). It’s probably best that we keep shopping for living-room sets in spaces that don’t have speed limits.

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Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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