Proper disposal of bones, hides

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(Photo courtesy BEN CADWALLADER, IDFG) Improper disposal of legally-harvested deer carcasses creates nuisances, safety and health hazards for residents, and a bad public image for for all hunters.

COEUR D’ALENE — Deer harvest has been increasing in northern Idaho in the last week as the fall rut is getting underway. Deer are moving around more during the daytime than they were in October, offering hunters more opportunity to put healthy and nutritious meat in the freezer.

Hunters who are successful at harvesting a big game animal are required to remove and care for all of the edible meat from hind quarters as far down as the hock, the front quarters as far down as the knee, and meat along the backbone. There is also a lot of meat in the neck and covering the ribs that makes for good ground or stew meat.

When a hunter harvests a big game animal, they can take it to a meat processor or cut it on their own. When you choose a professional meat processor, you can deliver the clean carcass to the shop and your work is done. The processor will call when the meat is cut, wrapped, packaged, labeled and ready to be picked up. Some processors vacuum seal the packages for longer freezer life.

Perhaps the best part of paying a professional meat processor is that the shop disposes of the bones for you. When a hunter does the processing themselves, there is a pile of bones, a hide, and a head that need to be disposed of. If left out in the remote woods out of sight of people, these will be cleaned up by scavengers in short order. Within a few hours, ravens, magpies and the occasional bald eagle will find the remains and begin to utilize them. The noisy ravens will attract coyotes that join in for an easy meal.

If a remote wooded site is not an option, the transfer station will accept animal carcasses.

When disposing of deer parts, hunters are encouraged to consider the safety and health of others. It only takes one improperly dumped and highly visible carcass to generate strong negative reactions.

Unwanted big game carcasses that end up on the side of the road or in ‘vacant lots’ (every ‘vacant lot’ is owned by somebody) become eyesores and public health issues. They can even become roadway hazards because they attract dogs and scavengers. The scavengers then become dangers to drivers who swerve to avoid hitting them.

Dumping fleshed out game carcasses along roadsides is littering. It is also inconsiderate of nearby residents and visitors. It reflects poorly on all hunters and damages the image of hunters among those people who do not hunt.

Phil Cooper is a wildlife conservation educator employed by Idaho Department of Fish and Game in the Panhandle region.

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