Disposal of wildlife no longer picked up

LINCOLN – Deer and other wildlife killed on Alcona County roads are no longer going to be hauled off for disposal. Instead, they will be dragged a distance away from the shoulder or placed in woods, Alcona County Road Commissioner Al Scully said.

Alcona crews had been picking up the carcasses as a courtesy and hauling them to several sites. However, the U.S. Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are discouraging such practices because a pile of dead animals at one site could cause the spread of bovine TB among deer, when the carrion is fed on and scattered by insects, crows, coyotes and other wildlife.

The change means Alcona is following the same practices as Alpena, Montmorency and Presque Isle, where hundreds of deer and other wildlife die on roads every year, officials said.

“We used to go bury them, but with the onset of TB, the forest service and the DNR are saying that you have to spread them out,” Eric Precord, MDOT maintenance coordinator, said.

“If we’re in a rural area, it just makes sense to drag them off a road,” Precord said. “If it’s out in your front yard, the county will pick it up. But we’re not going to put them all in one place.”

All counties in Northeast Michigan do a great job of removing animals, Precord said.

“If it’s in the center of the highway or in traffic’s way, it’s more of an emergency and they get them immediately,” he said. “If it’s on the shoulder, it’s not as high a priority then.”

Precord said the public probably won’t notice any change at all, “because it will look like business as usual. But if it’s in your yard and we get a phone call, we get someone out there to take care of it.”

Normally, residents call their local road commission to request an animal be removed, and can get frustrated with delays, because of the smell, insects and other hazards.

“If your dog runs out and rolls in a dead deer, people take it personally,” Precord said.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.