There is no Federal program designed for the States to follow in terms of roadkill pick-up. Many States do have programs or policies that cover this, however. For instance, Pennsylvania enacted a law that requires PennDOT, who already is in charge of picking up deer from state routes, to get it “done promptly,” though it does not set forth a statute that outlines any timelines for actually getting to it.

Caltrans area maintenance supervisors are instructed to outline a plan for removing carcasses from any state rights-of-way. In some areas there are contracts served by local animal control agencies that will handle injured, dying, and dead animals.

But what if the animal is chipped or has a collar and tags? Most local departments will keep the license or name tags and collars for a period of time, giving the owners a chance to retrieve them. If an animal has been chipped, every effort is made to contact the owner right away, to give them the opportunity to take care of disposal. If no one responds, the departments will have to deal with this task themselves.

New York is forward-thinking in this matter and has set up special composting areas for the disposal of dead animals’ carcasses. The NYSDOT states that the current manner of disposing of carcasses usually is taken care of by contractors, who average anywhere between $30 and $125 per deer for roadside pick-up and disposal. However, with the population spreading to more and more rural areas, the concern for drinking water contamination has become an issue. Only rare landfills will allow disposal on their grounds, and those disposals are limited and restricted by regulations.

The State has now begun these composting sites that consist of non-turning piles and passive aeration of the piles to allow for decomposition at high temperatures. They have found this method to be cost-effective, as they are using regular road maintenance vehicles, instead of having to purchase special machinery. This method is also environmentally safe, as the carcasses do not come into contact with any ground water or aquifers, reduces pathogens from the rotting carcasses, and keeps odors to a minimum. In addition, this composted material is then useful for roadside maintenance and other projects that are out of the way of normal human passageways.

Contact your local municipality or local branch of your State’s department of transportation to come and collect any roadkill, especially if it is blocking the roadway. Do not try to move the animal yourself, at the risk of contracting disease or pathogens from the animal’s carcass; try to drive safely around it and report it as soon as you are able.

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