SHA Composts Deer Carcasses

A November 12 Frederick News-Post article reports on the Maryland State Highway Administration’s (SHA’s) practice of composting deer carcasses.  Local governments have become increasingly interested in the composting as organic material and food waste constitutes a significant portion of the waste stream.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is formulating guidance and regulations to allow and clarify the permitting and operation of composting facilities.  From the article:

Before the administration’s deer composting facility was built in 2007 and 2008, the animals were usually buried near where they were hit, providing the area was far enough from a house and if the ground was not too hard. Now, they are composted and turned into mulch to be used to fill in bare spots along the highway.

The nearly $200,000 facility consists of eight wooden bins large enough to hold about 50 or 60 deer layered with wood chips and horse manure.

The mixture becomes mulch after about six months of composting. It must be turned regularly and maintained at the proper temperature and humidity to decompose completely and kill harmful bacteria. It smells like rot and manure, but not as strongly as one might expect.

The article also indicates that the SHA facility used to provide compost to local orchards but currently only uses it to encourage grass growth along bare patches of highways.