Carcass Composting

Carcass composting facilities benefits are two-fold: reduction of livestock depredation due to large carnivores and improvement of ground and surface water quality. Livestock mortality, while unfortunate, is a normal and unavoidable part of ranching. The presence of carcasses on ranches attracts large predators such as wolves, bears, and mountain lions. The Livestock Loss Board reported that in Madison County alone, 16 cattle, 21 sheep, and 3 guard dogs were killed by wolves and grizzly bears this year totaling $32,489 in economic loss. Last year, the total in Madison County was even higher with $57,772 in livestock losses, the highest in the state. Historically, producers have removed carcasses by piling them in pits, burying them, hauling them to the local dump, and even blowing them up. Since the reintroduction of wolves and the expansion of grizzly populations, these methods have led to increased livestock-predator conflicts, as predators begin to see livestock as a food source. Piling carcasses in pits or burying them can also have negative impacts on ground and surface water quality. Dumping livestock carcasses in local landfills can lead predators into cities and towns. Carcass composting provides an alternative that is beneficial to predators, water quality, and people.

The RVCD’s carcass composting site is located by the Sheridan waste container site on Sand Coulee Road. The site will be operational January 2021. Carcass pick-up is free and confidential.

To schedule a pick-up, contact us at info@rvcd.org or (406) 842-5741 x 104.

Funding

Funding for this project has been provided by many generous sponsors including the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Blackfoot Challenge, the Montana Livestock Loss Board, a NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, Patagonia, the Wildlife Conservation Society Harder Foundation, and Madison County.