Connecticut's DOT may have the most innovative program for getting rid of roadkill: composting. And part of the reason for this state experiment is the question of what to do with a roadkill corpse in wintertime when frozen ground makes burial somewhat difficult.
Nursick says the agency began its pilot program in 2009 by opening up a special composting site at its Tylerville Garage in Haddam. The state of New York has a very similar program of its own.
"It's not very glamorous, and it's different," he adds. "Not many people know about it, but yes indeed, the DOT does have a roadkill compost pile."
Roadkill, "almost exclusively deer," according to Nursick, found on state roads in the general area around Haddam are brought to the pile, and that's when the composting process begins.
Green woodchips are put down in windrows atop a gravel base, and the roadkill is laid down in between. Then corpses are covered with a two-foot layer of woodchips, and then another layer of roadkill, and finally a 12-inch topping of the chips.
"It's sort of a disgusting roadkill sandwich," Nursick explains. But DOT officials insist there's no problem with revolting smells, and the decomposition process begins within a few days. Four to six months later nearly all of the bodies have been broken down.
Any bones or hair that's left gets put back into the pile, while the roadkill compost is set aside to age for about another year. And then it has the "deep, dark, rich appearance of good topsoil," Nursick says, and is ready for use when the state needs to landscape some highway project.
The only hassle so far has been the occasional scavenger digging into the compost pile for an attempted snack. "We're pondering options," Nursick says, "and we may end up putting a fence around it."
He also points out that, in the event a member of Mother Nature's disposal squad does make a withdrawal from the DOT's compost pile, it's really just another way of recycling that roadkill.