Town wonders what to do with roadside deer carcasses

Officials take a wait and see approach after county decides to stop picking up dead animals in some areas

DEER CARCASSES like this one will no longer be picked up by Ozaukee County along roads in towns that do not contract with the Highway Department for road maintenance. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

The Town of Port Washington will take a wait and see approach to clearing carcasses of deer killed on its roads, officials decided last month.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that big a deal,” Town Chairman Mike Didier said. “We don’t know the numbers. I’m of the opinion we should wait and see.”

The issue came to the board because Ozaukee County recently decided not to clear carcasses along most town roads.

“As we’ve seen greater needs for highway maintenance, we feel that our staff has been stretched too thin and it would be more efficient for local public works staff to remove (car killed deer) from their respective roadways,” County Highway Commissioner Jon Edgren said recently.

Since 2016, the highway department had hauled away or moved any deer lying dead on any county of local road in Ozaukee County. Edgren said that in 2019, there were 386 car-killed deer on county roads — 188  on state highways, 108 on county highways and 90 on local roads.

Since the Town of Port does not contract with the county for road maintenance, the Highway Department will not remove deer along its roads after Jan. 1, when the new policy becomes effective.

And, because the town does not have a local public works department, officials were left pondering what to do.

Supr. Greg Welton said that if the carcasses are left by the road, Mother Nature will take care of them.

“I think the coyotes will deal with them,” he said.

If the town takes on the task of removing the carcasses, it needs to act quickly,  Didier said.

“If we’re going to move them (off the road), we’ve got to get to them in a day or two,” he said, noting they otherwise become difficult to deal with.

Typically, he noted, carcasses are dragged off the side of the road and left.

“I’m not interested in moving deer off the road — I’m just putting that out there,” Town Clerk Heather Krueger said.

Didier said that until the town has a better idea of the scope of the issue, officials won’t take any action.

“If it’s extremely burdensome, we’ll have to get a bid from a contractor to remove them,” he said.

“I guess we’ll just wait and see if it becomes a problem,” Welton said.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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