Effectiveness of Composting Road-Killed Deer in New York State
Schwarz, Mary; Bonhotal, Jean; Harrison, Ellen; Brinton, William; Storms, Pam
Composting of deer carcasses was effective in reducing pathogen levels, decomposing the carcasses and producing a useable end product after 12 months. The composting process used in this project involved enveloping the carcasses of road-killed deer in woodchips and allowing those piles with natural air circulation to sit undisturbed. Temperatures were measured and samples from the piles were analyzed periodically for pathogens and for compost parameters. While significant pathogen reduction occurred in several months, it took 12 months for all of the measured pathogens to decline to low levels in all of the 6 piles studied. Samples taken at other sites in New York State that have been composting road-killed deer for over a year also had low pathogen content. We thus suggest a composting duration of 12 months before use. In the interest of being cautious, we also recommend that the end product be used in low public contact settings such as highway rights-of-way.
Compost Science & Utilization
composting mortality; road killed deer; pathogens