Don’t let it bring you down

Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is the seventh track on his 1970 album After the Gold Rush. It begins: “Old man lying by the side of the road…” Since my road trip to Madison over the weekend, Young’s tune has been going through my mind with the slightly altered lyric: “Dead deer lying by the side of the road…” It could be Wisconsin’s state song.

The dead deer lying by the side of the road on Highway 94 appear with the regularity of the mile markers, though the condition of the dead deer varies. A few have gone into rigor mortis and look like they could be stood up. Others have gone into an extreme state of decomposition. The rest are somewhere in between.

Where are the scavengers? They are falling down on the job or insufficient to the occasion.

If you need to pull over on the highway, you’ll have to look for a parking spot between the carcasses. It’s not a pleasant thought. Where is your state pride?

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has posted a note on “Car-Killed Deer” (“CKD” in the department’s bureaucratese). The department acknowledges that “[r]emoval of car-killed deer (CKD) from Wisconsin’s roadways is an important safety task.” It alleges that “[t]his responsibility is shared by all levels of government.”

However, the state is scrimping on clean-up costs on the interstate and otherwise bragging about reducing its “CKD” program costs. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation includes this note on the disposal of “CKD”:

There are several CKD disposal methods allowed for​ deer remains along Interstates, U.S. and state highways. These include: removal and transport of CKD to a landfill, incinerator, or chemical digester; transport to a rendering plant in counties not affected by Chronic Wasting Disease; and roadside disposal, which involves moving deer remains out of direct view in safe zones within the highway right-of-way.

The roadside disposal policy has drastically reduced the state’s CKD program costs by limiting transportation costs and landfill tipping fees. It also provides birds of prey and other wildlife important food sources. Roadside disposal is limited to the following conditions: the remains must be located within rural areas at least ¼ mile away from a residence or business; disposal does not include multiple carcasses in one location; and, disposal is outside of ditches and mowing areas.

I infer that the state’s “CKD” disposal costs on the interstate are asymptotically approaching zero. The result is unsightly and unsettling, but don’t let it bring you down.

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