Deer carcasses discovered in Rochester part of DNR disposal site

More venison than the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources could give away.

That appears to explain a pile of deer carcasses discovered recently by a pheasant hunter in Gordon W. Yeager State Wildlife Area in Rochester on Dec. 30.

Image by Michael Wondrow

Image by Michael Wondrow

“Gordon Yeager WMA is state-owned property. The DNR has used it for a number of years to dispose of carcasses that are not fit for human consumption,” Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director, told Outdoor News. “Most road authorities have sites like this on their own property where road-killed animals are placed to decompose naturally. It saves on landfill space and the cost of disposal.

“The DNR is responsible for disposal of carcasses that it possesses as a result of poaching confiscations or disease testing,” Niskanen continued. “The disposal site is outside the DNR compound fence, off a mowed trail. Our approach for confiscated deer is to gift deer to families in need. Carcasses that cannot be gifted are normally placed in a remote area to let the carcass decompose naturally.

“Due to the unseasonably warm weather on the 2016 deer opener, the agency had concerns about the meat spoiling and couldn’t gift the whole deer. There were multiple deer seized in enforcement cases during the 2016 deer season and some of those deer were placed at the Gordon Yeager WMA because of the spoilage issue.”

But several deer heads, tested for chronic wasting disease, reportedly were found in the pile of carcasses, too.

“The deer heads at the site were from hunter-harvested deer that were tested for CWD as part of the DNR’s surveillance program,” Niskanen said. “All the heads tested negative. Unfortunately, agency protocol for disposing of the heads in the landfill was not followed in all cases, and some heads were left at the disposal site.

“The agency acknowledges that the public has questions and the carcasses might upset some people. The agency is reviewing its protocols for carcass disposal and ensures that when disposal is necessary, it is done in an area where the carcasses can decompose naturally and in a remote area without being visible.”

Niskanen said the DNR removed the carcasses Wednesday, Jan. 4, and that they were on their way to a landfill elsewhere in Olmsted County.

“State statute prohibits the public from dumping trash, sludge, rocks, vehicles and carcasses — all kinds, including cattle — on wildlife management areas; hunters can legally field-dress animals and leave the offal on state lands,” Niskanen said. “However, the DNR is responsible under state statute to manage wildlife — dead or alive — on state lands and WMAs, and we find it necessary to use discreet and remote areas to allow confiscated deer carcasses that are unfit for human consumption to decompose naturally.”

Categories: CWD, Hunting News, Whitetail Deer

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