October 22, 2012

Dead deer sometimes composted

PLATTSBURGH — A thriving deer population across New York state means more accidents, paving the way for environmentally friendly road-kill recycling.

According to State Department of Conservation spokesman Dave Winchell, what to do with an animal’s remains really depends on where the deer died.

“If the carcass is left on the roadside, then it is the responsibility of the highway department that oversees the particular road — state, country, town or village — to remove it,” he said in an email.

Winchell said most motorists have the option of claiming the animal for themselves or may also sign it over to someone else for removal.

“They need to sign off on a form from the responding law-enforcement officer and keep a copy to provide if questioned by other law-enforcement officers,” he added.


But the buck doesn’t necessarily stop there.

New York is one of a few states across the country with a method in place to recycle deer at mortality composting sites, said State Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Flick.

“NYSDOT actively composts deer removed from state highways at 33 locations in 20 residencies across the state,” he said.

Counties, such as Clinton, which have larger population centers and interstates, are more likely to compost and have been doing so for about seven years.


DOT worked in conjunction with officials from the Cornell Waste Management Institute in order to properly set up the sites to ensure environmental and community safety standards were properly in place.

“On highways that have houses, businesses or environmentally sensitive resources nearby, composting allows the residency to remove the deer and dispose of it in a manner whereby it decomposes safely,” Flick said.

In a 2007 report, the institute found a need for safe, alternative disposal practices, as older methods like leaving the animals near a roadside to decompose became less acceptable.

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