Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Regulated Materials

people planting a tree

Management and Handling of Road-Kill Carcasses

This guidance document is prepared by MnDOT personnel and is intended only for use on MnDOT projects, including partnership projects, and MnDOT Maintenance Operations.

MnDOT has prepared this guidance document to provide its internal procedures and requirements for work performed on MnDOT rights of way, including MnDOT-owned facilities.

This document should not be construed as a full description of all regulations pertaining to the subject matter. Contact the Regulated Materials Unit in the MnDOT Office of Environmental Stewardship for additional information or legal requirements.

Management and Handling of Road-Kill Carcasses

MnDOT operations require management of road-kill animal carcasses. The following management practice allows for proper removal and disposal of roadkill carcasses. Dumping carcasses into pits or mass graves is not an acceptable or legal disposal practice. The options listed below are possible methods for carcass disposal. Contact the Regulated Materials Unit for assistance in unusual situations regarding disposal of road-kill carcasses.

  • Place the carcass on MnDOT right of way in the vicinity of kill site. Whenever possible, do not place the carcass in the water flow area of the ditch bottom. Placing the carcass in the ditch bottom has the potential to create erosion problems or surface water impacts.
  • Place the carcass in a suitable location on the ditch back slope (typically about ten feet up from the ditch flow line – see diagram below) and when feasible, cover the carcass with wood chips to remove visual impacts to motorists. Consider other disposal alternatives in areas of high pedestrian activity or other sensitive locations.
  • Compost the carcass. Carcasses may be composted using a mechanical composter or by creating compost piles. Contact Dwayne Stenlund in Environmental Stewardship at 651-366-3625 for information on composting carcasses. Composting procedures are also available in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) publication, “Composting Animal Mortalities”.
  • Bury the carcass. Carcasses cannot be buried within 5 feet of the seasonal high water table or within 10 feet of bedrock. To prevent groundwater impacts, do not bury carcasses in sandy or gravely soils. The carcass must be completely covered with soil or wood chips. Bury a maximum of two carcasses per hole. There must be a separation distance of at least three feet from edge to edge of carcass burial locations. Consider disposal alternatives in areas of high pedestrian activity or other sensitive locations.
  • Transport carcass to a landfill for disposal.
  • Incinerate carcass at an approved facility. Transport carcass to game farms or state wildlife refuge for animal food use upon approval of facility owner or operator.

Carcass Handling Procedure

While there is no documented risk to humans from Chronic Wasting Disease, other pathogens such as E. coli or salmonella can be prevalent in any animal carcasses and can represent a hazard to humans. To address these potential hazards, the following precautions should be used whenever handling animal carcasses (procedures may vary by District so contact District Safety Administrator with any questions regarding handling procedure):

  • Use appropriate traffic control procedures and wear proper high visibility garments before attempting to move carcasses.
  • Whenever possible, use equipment/tools to handle carcasses to minimize direct bodily contact.
  • Never handle injured or stray animals. Contact local law enforcement or an animal control agency for assistance with live, injured or stray animals.
  • Do not attempt to move any carcass that appears to be in overall good condition (no obvious sign of injury) AND shows evidence of hemorrhaging at the mouth, nose or anus. These conditions may indicate anthrax as a possible cause for the animal’s death. Movement of the carcass could release disease-carrying spores into the environment. Immediately contact the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) at 651- 296-2942 or a local BAH office for assistance. Call the State Duty Officer (1-800-422-0798 or for Metro locations: 651-649-5451) if no one is available at BAH offices.
  • Wear disposable first aid-style gloves whenever you handle a carcass. Nitrile gloves are preferred over latex because it is a stronger material and is less likely to produce allergic skin reactions. The gloves must be thrown away after use and prior to operating any vehicle controls. It is recommended that two pairs of gloves be worn (one over the other) whenever contact with animal blood or organs cannot be avoided.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an anti-bacterial product after handling a carcass, even though gloves were worn while handling the carcass.
  • If you have reason to believe that the equipment you used may have been contaminated, wash the area with an anti-bacterial product. It is preferable to clean equipment in the field in order to prevent bringing potential contaminants back to the shop. If you must perform the cleaning at the shop, the equipment may be decontaminated with hot soap and water or with a solution of one part bleach to 9 parts water when feasible. You may also use dedicated tools for handling the carcass that are disposed of after use.