As a Justmeans staff writer for the Sustainable Foods editorial department, I explore the disparity between consumerism and independence through the topic of sustainability. As a self-described 'urban homesteader' I look to find the balance between a sustainable lifestyle and use of corporate convenience. I don't necessarily want to live without electricity, but I want to be comfortable if eve...
USDA Starts Carcass Composing Program
The USDA has put together a program helping to dispose of large animal roadkill in rural areas, with its pilot program sponsored by the Natural Resource Conservation Service partnered with the Three Rivers Resource Conservation and Development Council and Okaloosa County, Florida. The idea is to make a roadkill composting system. It is simply a fact of modern life that many animals die from human collisions, whether it be by car or by accidental gunshot. The carrion can often be found on the side of the road, providing both unsightliness and notable health hazards from the decaying flesh.
By making a composting system for accidental wildlife fatalities, John Harper, of the USDA NRCS says, "You come out with a product that is compostable, kind of like leaves, with some deer carcass left and this actually can be used in the environment, to put on food plots and also in some cases options to keep deer away from certain areas."
Having lived in both urban and rural areas, the roadkill composting plants seem like a favorable idea. Even in urban sites, wildlife like deer, raccoons, opossum, rabbits and feral domestic animals find their way in front of automobiles or mass transit. The decay is often both smelly and full of bacteria that could potentially be harmful, especially to small children who don't completely understand the hazards of decaying flesh. Moreover, with a composting system, there is no need for incineration which depends on crude oil, gas or - at minimum - wood, to keep the fires burning.
Having animal composting plants seems like a great, sustainable, environmentally conscientious way to "dispose" of the carcasses both naturally and efficiently. The end- result compost could be used on forest floors or on land that has been over- farmed or otherwise over- taxed in an effort to reconstitute the nutrient levels in the soil or other as a soil additive. Some experts may agree that it could be a commercially viable soil augment for food production, depending on the nutrient content of the finished compost. And, really, how different would it be from high-grade, extremely popular compost made with sea animals? At any rate, there are a number of resources available online to learn more about large animal composting if your state and local laws permit it.
Photo credit: USDA video still