Who is responsible for removing road kill in Michigan?  It's not as simple as you think.

If you've driven anywhere around Michigan this time of year, you're bound to see some roadkill. There is currently a deer on Sprinkle road between East G and Gull Road in Kalamazoo.  Someone hit this deer and it has been lying there for almost a week.  It is HEARTBREAKING to have to see the poor thing on my way to and from work every day.

What I wanted to know is who is responsible for removing roadkill and how is the process handled. I was really surprised by what I found out.

Does the County Road Commission Handle Roadkill Removal?

Someone suggested I call the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County so I did, but the woman I spoke to said they definitely do NOT pick up dead deer.  She said that Animal Control USED to pick them up but they don't anymore.  She wasn't sure how to help me but she said maybe Republic Services in Kalamazoo would take care of it.

Having found no luck with the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, I started to wonder, why is it so difficult to find out who picks up roadkill?!  Then, I read this article which details how the matter is handing in the Grand Rapids Area,

Kent County’s road commission spends about $100,000 on road kill every year. Albertson picks up road kill from 7 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m. most days. After working his way around the county, he ends the day at the landfill on the south side. This allows them to pick up around 2,000 animals.  The other road commissions I talked to don’t do that. They say they don’t have the money. In fact, five of them pass the road kill responsibility off to Animal Control or Sheriff’s Departments.

 

Kalamazoo County's Sheriff Talked About Roadkill

Ultimately, it comes down to funding. Kent County is the only place in Michigan who has someone designated to pick up roadkill and they call him the "Roadkill Sheriff".  I called Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller and he was up front, honest and informative about the issue.  He said that there are NO LAWS that require a specific business or organization to pick up roadkill.  He told me that the road commission used to do it but because of how costly it is, they stopped, creating contamination and worry within the community.

How to Remove Roadkill Yourself

He said if I wanted to get the dead deer off of the road myself, I could, but there are rules.  I would have to:

1) Bury it far enough in the ground

2) Keep it so far from bodies of water

3) Take it to a landfill

The landfills near Kalamazoo have rules as to how many they can take each year because of contamination.

Sheriff Fuller said, "We want to reduce the transmission of disease, protect our ground water and prevent further motor vehicle accidents but we can only achieve this goal if we can get the funds to allow the Road Commission to pick the animals up. If no one claims it, we come out and drag it to the side of the road after we are dispatched.  Unfortunately, that is all we can do."

He said he would need face masks, trucks, gloves, shovels and all of the equipment required to lift a 150 lb deer off of our streets.

Make a Difference

Reach out to the state legislature and say, "We want to reduce the transmission of disease and allow the Road Commission to pick up these animals.  We can only do this is we have the funding."

Tess/TSM