Where to dispose of the bodies
Landfill board faces a short deadline to come up with a solution to animal carcass disposal
An animal carcass can still be disposed of at the landfill this hunting season and will continue to be allowed until Dec. 31, 2018.
Randy Raymer, the chairman of the Upper Platte River Solid Waste District (UPRSWD) said that it may seem like a lot of time, but it really is not. Once this deadline hits, those with carcasses will have find another manner of disposal.
This is a dilemma for the UPRSWD board and the subject has come up at several meetings over the past year. The board has listened to ideas and researched how other towns’ landfills are coping with this restriction.
Raymer, along with Craig Kopasz of Engineering Associates, are trying to come up with workable solutions that will satisfy the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and not be a hardship for residents who use the landfill to dispose of carcasses.
One idea is to have the landfill only take bones and hide for the construction/demolition (CD) pit when the deadline comes to pass.
“The reason whole animals will not be permitted to go to the CD pit is because the bodies contain liquid and bodily fluids which could potentially migrate to the ground water,” Raymer said.
“The biological process of burying a whole lot of animals in one spot, the breakdown slows down, versus if it is on the surface and the slower process of the breakdown basically ferments and leaches into the groundwater,” Kopasz said explaining the rationale of DEQ not allowing burials of animals. “This is what Bob Doctor told me when I was working with Baggs.”
Robert Doctor is manager of the Solid Waste Permitting Program at DEQ.
Hunting is only one way carcasses end up in the landfill. Roadkill is another contributor to the dead animal count. Making a warden prep a roadside carcass to a no flesh, entrails or liquid state would be overly burdensome. Raymer and Kopasz recognize this and that is motivation for them to look at other landfills around the region to see how they handle the bodies.
“Montana composts and we are looking at how they do it,” Kopasz said. “Some states DOT (Department of Transportation) people lance the stomach when they come across the animal, then drag it away from the road and let the scavengers take care of it.”
“The lancing lets the body dehydrate too,” Raymer added.
Scavengers are a major reason the animals have to be buried in a timely manner.
“We can’t have a collection of critters out in the open at the landfill because it would attract the vectors: skunks, raccoons and birds,” Raymer said. “When we get animals in the pit, we have to bury them each day.”
“A lot of people who hunt process their own animals and are left with bones and hide, so if we can get permitted in the future for these, it is a step that works with hunters and DEQ,” Kopasz said.
Problems with bones and hide come into play when considering non-game animals such as horses.
Some landfills have incinerators, but that is costly. Composting is another option, but because Carbon County is in an area that has Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), all compost with wildlife would have to be moved to a landfill that has lined pits.
There is a dead animal pit in Laramie that is lined, but the problem is if an animal or several creatures sit in the trailer for a week, especially in the summer, it would create a possible health situation in another manner.
Raymer said a liner is another option, but it is cost prohibitive. Raymer said a lined pit would cost $250,000 and would only last a year. The pit has to be monitored for leaks, so a system for monitoring would have to be installed at additional cost and if a leak is detected, the trash has to be dug up, fixed and compacted back in.
“We just can’t fund that,” Raymer said.
“That pit is only going to last so long too,” Kopasz said, “Then you are going to have to put in another one and each time you need to have one, you are spending $250,000 and you are still monitoring the old pits.”
Kopasz said there is liner needed for the top of the pit when it gets full.
“We can’t fund this sort of operation with only 3,500 people,” Raymer said. “And you are actually talking about only 2,000 payers.”
Raymer and Kopasz want to find a solution for this problem and although they have looked at several strategies, nothing has been settled on.
“We have pretty much exhausted all of our efforts to find an easy solution,” Raymer said.
Raymer is also aware of the impact on pricing for businesses that process game. Since these companies would have to pass on their increased costs, the risk is that prices become too high. If processing gets too expensive, hunters could possibly stop coming to the area.
“A lot of businesses depend on this time of year and the hunters,” Raymer said.
Raymer said the landfill board’s position is: There is no simple answer.
“We are working diligently to come up with reasonable disposal alternatives for not only the consumer, but also the commercial processor and the folks who have large whole animals that need disposal,” Raymer said. “It is a multitude of users and trying to come to the best solution for all of them is a challenge.”
Because it is such a difficult task in finding a solution to dead animal disposal, both know they have to keep looking and listening to how other landfills are containing this problem. Dec. 31, 2018 will be here soon enough and both Kopasz and Raymer said they want a fix before the deadline.