News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Who cleans up the dead?

By Scott Sullivan


 A letter printed here Jan. 11, “County should get off carcasses,” noted Allegan County was not heeding requests to remove roadkill deer from near Blue Star Highway.

The writer said Saugatuck Township — unlike Douglas and Saugatuck cities, whose public works departments handle such cleanups — had informed him Allegan County was responsible for such removals.

Recent winter thaws haven’t made the carcasses smell any better, nor mitigated health hazards they might pose.

Last week, parties unknown placed three hand-lettered posts with signs (as shown nearby) saying, “Danger – Deer rotting for 3 months,” illustrated with a skull and crossbones.

Allegan County Road Commission director Craig Atwood told The Commercial Record, when we inquired, removing roadside carcasses wasn’t the county’s duty.

“If they’re in the road obstructing traffic, yes,” he said. “We move them off to the side. But that’s it.”

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is responsible for living wild creatures, such as deer, but not dead ones, he continued.

“We have 23 townships in our jurisdiction,” he said. “Picture the cost and labor it would take to monitor all those roads, pick up and dispose of carcasses, paying landfills to accept them.

“We use our budget to do our job, maintain roads,” Atwood said.

In that case, who cleans up corpses from township roadsides?

“It could be the property owner,” he said, or anyone who takes it on themselves.

“Dead deer can provide harvesters with venison, but after three months they may not be fresh,” he said.

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