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Chapter 11
11.31. NYSDOT-DEC Deer Carcass Composting - Practice Guidelines

Example 33 : NYSDOT-DEC Deer Carcass Composting - Practice Guidelines

1. Choose a well-drained site with minimal slope, at least 200 feet from water courses or other hydrologically sensitive landscape features including streams and wetlands. Separation distances should be 500 feet from a residence and 200 feet from a property line. Siting should also consider prevailing winds and aesthetic impacts on neighbors.

2. Composting bin or windrow should be placed on a hard surface made of paved asphalt, concrete, or compacted millings. The pad needs to provide a good working surface in all weather conditions and protection of ground water. Sufficient amounts of amendments should be added to piles to minimize the movement of liquids ( blood, etc.) from the carcasses. Any liquid that leaves the pad must be absorbed in woodchips or other acceptable materials and must be kept away from sensitive areas ( streams etc.) .

3. Prepare a foundation layer of wood chips or recycled deer compost in the bottom of the windrow or bin before adding carcasses. This initial layer should be 18-24 inches deep. Sufficient quantities of woodchips and/or finished compost must be at the site before any carcasses arrive to ensure the piles can be formed in a timely manner.

4. Place deer carcasses back to back in a single layer on the foundation leaving at least 6 inches between the carcasses and the bin walls. Completely surround and cover the carcasses with at least 6 inches of damp wood chips or recycled deer compost. If there are not sufficient carcasses for a full layer, cover the edges of the available carcasses with at least 6 inches of wood chips or recycled deer compost and begin adding carcasses at that point as they become available. Never leave any part of a carcass exposed even if extra wood chips or recycled deer compost must be added.

5. Continue this layering procedure until a windrow or bin is full. The last layer used to cap the bin should be 24 inches of wood chips or recycled deer compost. This layer should curtail odors and dissuade scavengers. Do not stack windrows/bins over 6 feet high. A temperature rise in the compost pile to 125 degrees F or higher indicates that the process is working.

6. Allow the pile to remain idle for several months. The pile can be broken down sooner, if the carcasses are clearly fully degraded. The internal temperature of the pile should be 120F to 150F during the active composting phase. For pathogen reduction, it must be shown that the carcass achieved a temperature of 131/F or greater for three consecutive days. The temperature probe used must be able to record temperatures in the areas of the pile where the carcasses are located.

7. Once the material is fully composted, it can be reused in starting new compost piles or used within a highway right-of-way with appropriate setbacks. DEC approval will be required for uses outside of the compost area.


  • Suitable site allowing for setbacks
  • Hard surface made of asphalt, concrete or compacted millings for compost windrow OR
  • Compost bins on asphalt, concrete or compacted millings work pads
  • Sufficient supply of wood chips
  • Provisions for monitoring temperatures within the compost pile. ( Thermocouple probe, thermister probe or similar device may be used.)
  • Rubber gloves and face masks
  • Loader
  • Water
  • Before composting, contact the DOT Maintenance Environmental Coordinator ( MEC) .


The compost piles will be segregated from other facility operations, utilities, farming activities and main traffic areas. A sign designating the compost pile as such will be clearly visible at each compost area. The sign may state "Deer Carcass Compost."

All workers at the assigned locations should be made aware of the compost windrow or bin. Safety instructions will be given via classroom or field setting.


The Highway Maintenance Supervisor assigned to the yard where the composting facility is located will inform all yard employees of the composting facility. All yard employees will be made aware of safety precautions required.

Employees working with the compost will be informed of the Operations and Maintenance procedures described herein.


Deer typically get collected by manually lifting the carcass into the back of a pick-up truck. While the first carcasses may be added to the fresh compost pile manually, any subsequent additions should be added via heavy equipment, such as a loader. It is allowable to park the pick-up truck as close as possible to the compost pile and manually place the carcass from the truck to the pile, as long as workers will not have to step onto the compost pile. Woodchips should be added via heavy equipment or off a pick-up truck. As it may be challenging to place the deer back to back with heavy equipment, the boards on one side of the bins should be removable to make loading and unloading the bins easier.


Handling of the compost pile will be accomplished via heavy equipment.

Handling of the compost should be performed in a manner that would prevent dispersion of the compost material on the ground and prevent dispersion of compost particles in the air.


A carcass may be added to the compost pile as ordered by the Resident Engineer. In general, any deer collected from the roadside may be added to the composting facility as long as it does not show any overt signs of disease. A deer that appears emaciated or showed untypical behavior prior to becoming killed should not be added to the compost pile as it may be diseased. Emaciated deer should be reported to NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit in Albany ( Phone number 518/478-3032) for testing.

Through the trial composting effort, DOT will be able to determine how many deer carcasses each compost bin/windrow can handle within a given time frame. Potentially, each composting bin could handle up to 30 carcasses per composting effort, depending on the size of the work pad. Compost windrows, extended lengthwise, would be able to accommodate more carcasses. Each composting bin/windrow can accept up to three layers of carcasses to a maximum height of 6 feet.

The first layer should consist of 18-24" of woodchips, followed by a layer of carcasses. Carcasses should be placed back to back. This arrangement aids in achieving higher composting temperatures. The carcasses should be covered by 6" of woodchips. Repeat this process until three layers are complete. Finish top layer with 24" of woodchips. For windrows, repeat this process in 10-15 foot long sections, adding on to the existing windrow.

The moisture content of the pile contributes to proper composting temperatures. The moisture content of the wood chips or recycled deer compost added to the mix should be about 60 percent, which is the point where a handful of the material will just begin to stay together when squeezed ( wear rubber gloves if it is compost!) .

  • The wood chips or recycled deer compost should have the proper moisture content before adding it to the bin/windrow. It is difficult to uniformly add water to the mix in the composter.
  • If the material falls apart after being squeezed, it is too dry. Water should be sprinkled and mixed into the wood chips.
  • If free water drips from the squeezed material, or if a film of free water is left on the hand, the material is too wet. The material should be spread to air dry or mixed with drier material to lower the moisture content before adding to the compost mix.
  • If a compost pile does not properly heat, it is probably too wet or too dry or was filled improperly.


Compost monitoring and record keeping is necessary in order to document proper functioning of the compost pile. If dysfunction is evident, steps can be taken to correct poor conditions. Compost monitoring will let DOT learn more about the composting process and create optimal composting conditions in the future.

  • Any deer composting activities must be approved by NYSDEC.
  • Record the number of carcasses added to the pile along with date.
  • Temperatures within the compost pile will be monitored and recorded once a day. A sample data log sheet is attached for use. See Temperature Monitoring section.
  • Odors should be recorded daily. Indicate whether there are odors disseminating in the downwind direction and if an odor is present, estimate how many feet downwind it is noticeable.
  • State when last carcass was added.


Proper composting requires sustained elevated temperatures ( 120F -170F) . High temperatures also achieve desired pathogen reduction and a physically stabilized compost material at the end of the process. Ideally, a continuous temperature monitoring device should be utilized. A thermocouple probe, thermistor probe or similar device can be embedded in the compost pile. This device should be connected to a lead wire and data logger, where temperature variations can be recorded over a period of time.

  • A temperature probe ( bimetal thermometer) with a four foot extension may also be used.
  • The probe should be placed so that readings are taken at 12"-36" from the top of the pile in areas where the carcasses are located. As the pile grows, the probe will need to be repositioned.


Testing of finished compost will document the presence of certain pathogens and ascertain what re-use the compost product is suitable for. Sampling parameters include pathogenic organisms and pathogen indicator organisms. The Maintenance Environmental Coordinator will be in charge of sampling. Within 3 months after start-up of the project, a compost sampling and analysis plan will be submitted to DEC for approval. Parameters to be analyzed may include total coliform, fecal coliform, E.coli, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, total carbon and total Kjehldal nitrogen. Bacteria causing Lyme disease will not survive temperatures above 130F and as long as composting achieved proper temperatures, testing for this pathogen will not be necessary.


Material that is fully composted may be re-used as a base for a new compost pile. Compost that has been determined safe by inspection of records and the sampling analysis, can be land applied within the highway right-of-way subject to DEC approval.


If any activity does not go according to plan, contact the Resident Engineer. In the event that problems develop which result or may result in environmental or public health impacts or nuisance conditions, the compost operation should be suspended and corrective measures should be taken to mitigate impacts. Problems which will trigger implementation of the contingency plan will include, but not be limited to, odors detected beyond the facility boundary, animals scavenging in the compost piles or receipt of deer carcasses at a rate which exceeds the handling capacity of the compost facility. Corrective measures will include, but not be limited to, covering with additional woodchips and/or addition of lime to control odors, fencing the area to prevent access by animals, temporarily covering the piles with a tarp, cessation of operation until the adverse impacts have been mitigated and, if other measures fail, removal and disposal of the pile contents by pit burial in accordance with applicable DEC regulations and DOT guidelines or disposal of pit contents at an approved solid waste management facility.


The Maintenance Environmental Coordinator ( MEC) is contacted before composting is started and needs to be contacted in order to officially close out a composting activity. The MEC will schedule a site visit at that time, possibly with NYSDEC. Composting records should be made available at that time and elements of the process should be discussed. At that time it should be determined, whether composting appears complete and final sampling should be ordered. If yes, the MEC will initiate the sampling process. Sampling results and monitoring records will be provided to NYSDEC. Depending on results, the compost will be recommended for re-use as composting amendment or determined to be suitable as a soil amendment.

If the finished compost will be used as soil amendment, the site approval by the MEC and by DEC is required. To permanently close a composting site, bins should be disassembled and taken to a landfill. The workpad may be kept for other uses, but must be decontaminated using a 5 percent or 10 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite ( household bleach) in water. The MEC and NYSDEC will be notified that the deer composting facility has been discontinued.


Employees should follow the personal protective equipment requirements outlined in the Rabies Safety Bulletin 92-1 ( attached) when working with any road kill. The safety bulletin recommends that rubber gloves be worn. Questions in regard to the Safety Bulletin should be directed to the Regional Safety Officer ( see Contact Information) . If a worker will be in immediate contact with the compost for the purpose of taking a temperature reading or other, personal protective equipment, such as rubber gloves. Disposable face mask should be available and worn at the discretion of the employee.

Emaciated deer or deer showing untypical behaviors ( either alive or before becoming roadkill) should be reported to NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit in Albany ( Phone number 518/478-3032) . Do not add animals other than deer to the compost!


Environmental quality will be addressed by carefully choosing a site ( see Guidelines II.1.) . In order to ensure proper site selection, the Maintenance Environmental Coordinator should conduct a site screening via a physical walk-over.

To ensure that the active compost pile does not pose risks not addressed through proper setbacks, the following should be considered:

  • If nuisance vectors, such as flies etc are attracted to the pile, more woodchips should be added to cover the pile.
  • Any leachate that may have puddled around the pile needs to be absorbed by woodchips and adequately covered.
  • Odors would also indicate that additional woodchip coverage is necessary.

Experiences of various entities utilizing composting has shown that carnivorous animals will not be attracted to compost piles as long as the pile is adequately covered.

Prior to releasing the finished compost product to the environment, monitoring records such as the temperature logs and pile records will be reviewed. The temperature log will indicate whether the material has properly composted and whether the temperature necessary for pathogen kill was reached. The operators of the pile should ensure that adequate temperatures are reached as outlined in the Guidelines. Composting shall not be considered complete unless adequate temperature data is collected after addition of the last carcass to demonstrate that a minimum temperature of 131 F has been reached and maintained for a minimum of three consecutive days. The final sampling test results will also determine the safety of the compost.


The Highway Maintenance Supervisor II assigned to the yard is responsible for day to day operations, monitoring and proper functioning of the compost pile.

Correspondence, composting performance evaluation, procedural guidance and sampling will be coordinated by the Maintenance Environmental Coordinator.

Elisabeth Kolb, Maintenance Environmental Coordinator Tel. 845/575-6158


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Continue to Section 11.32 »
Table of Contents
Chapter 11
11.1 Florida DOT Environmental Policy 11-1
11.2 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Environmental Policy 11-1
11.3 Maine Dot Environmental Policy 11-2
11.4 North Carolina DOT Environmental Stewardship Policy 11-3
11.5 PennDOT’s Green Plan Policy Statement 11-3
11.6 Washington State Dot Environmental Policy 11-4
11.7 New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority Environmental Policy 11-4
11.8 Texas Environmental Commitment Checklist 11-5
11.9 Maine DOT Environmental and Safety Auditing Policy and Procedure 11-11
11.10 Maine DOT Corrective Action Request Form 11-14
11.11 Mass Highway Compliance Tracking Methods 11-15
11.12 Mass Highway Compliance Tracking Roles and Responsibilities 11-16
11.13 Mass Highway Self-Audit Procedure 11-17
11.14 Mass Highway Facility Self-Audit Checklist 11-18
11.15 Mass Highway Environmental Roles & Responsibilities 11-20
11.16 Mass Highway Environmental Section EMS Roles and Responsibilities 11-20
11.17 Mass Highway Operations Division EMS Roles and Responsibilities 11-22
11.18 Mass Highway District EMS Roles and Responsibilities 11-23
11.19 Mass Highway Training Expectations By Role 11-24
11.20 Mass Highway Environmental Training Program Roles and Responsibilities 11-25
11.21 PennDOT District 10 SEMP Responsibility Table 11-26
11.22 PennDOT District 10 SEMP Training Table 11-28
11.23 NYSDOT Construction/Environmental Training Schedule 11-29
11.24 Environmental Checklist for MoDOT Facilities 11-30
11.25 PennDOT Stockpile Quality Assurance Responsibilities 11-33
11.26 PennDOT 15-Minute Stockpile Walkaround 11-34
11.27 PennDOT Stockpile Snapshot 11-34
11.28 PennDOT Maintenance Stockpile Activity Protocol 11-35
11.29 PennDOT Post-Storm Salt Management Tracking Responsibilities 11-41
11.30 Risk, Compliance Issues, and Management Examples for Highway-Generated Waste - Oregon DOT 11-42
11.31 NYSDOT-DEC Deer Carcass Composting – Practice Guidelines 11-43
11.32 NYSDOT’s Draft Metric for Assessing Performance of Integrated Vegetation Management on ROW 11-47
11.33 NCDOT Roadside Vegetation Management Guidelines in Marked Areas 11-50
11.34 Invasive Species Coordination and Control DOT Resources
Lists: Examples | Tables | Figures
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