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Keeping It Simple: Easy Ways to Help Wildlife Along Roads

Composting Roadkilled Deer Keeps Scavengers at Bay

For years, ranchers and farmers have been composting their dead livestock. Now the New York State Department of Transportation composts roadkilled deer across the State, following a successful 2002-2003 pilot project by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Composting replaces traditional methods of burying roadkilled deer in landfills or in off-road wooded areas or pits along roads. Pit burial decomposes the body ineffectively and may contaminate groundwater, and dragging carcasses into the woods can attract coyotes and other scavenger animals to the highway, putting them in harm's way. New York's solution is fast, inexpensive, and odor-free, and it can be conducted year-round. The composting process is simple too, involving materials readily available to a highway facility: an asphalt or concrete pad, wood chips, water (rain!), a thermometer, and a loader. Within months, high temperatures produced by the composting process "cook" the carcass and destroy common pathogens. End products are used to start new compost piles and may eventually be used to enhance or stabilize soils on highway rights-of-way. For a manual on how to compost roadkilled deer, contact:
 
--Aug 21, 2006

Elisabeth Kolb, (845) 575-6158 or ekolb@dot.state.ny.us

photo of sign (Deer Compost 2) protruding from a large pile of wood mulch
NYSDOT photo
A deer compost pile.

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Updated: 12/12/2012
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