Deer-ly Departed: Carcass Prompts Bureaucratic Runaround | True 802 | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Deer-ly Departed: Carcass Prompts Bureaucratic Runaround


Published March 14, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated March 15, 2018 at 12:49 p.m.

The dead animal, believed to be a deer, found on Lake Champlain in the New North End last week. - COURTESY OF: DERYK ROACH
  • Courtesy of: Deryk Roach
  • The dead animal, believed to be a deer, found on Lake Champlain in the New North End last week.

Brooks Elder was taking his yellow lab, Scout, for a walk along a Burlington beach on March 6 when they came across something large and very, very smelly.

The longtime New North End resident has seen dead fish and birds on the shores of Lake Champlain before. But Elder was stunned to find what he thought was a dead cow. It was close to the waterline, not far from where the Winooski River empties into the lake. The beach just "wouldn't be enjoyable with a rotting carcass down there, especially in the spring," Elders observed.

Elders thought the problem would be easy to resolve. But what followed, he said, was a days-long trip down a rabbit hole of byzantine rules of animal disposal. Elder tried the city's departments of Public Works; Parks, Recreation & Waterfront; and the police. He also called the Vermont State Police, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and the homeowners' association of the nearby Village at Northshore.

Most of the people he spoke with claimed their agencies lacked jurisdiction or the proper equipment to remove the carcass.

But city parks department employees did gamely try to drag the animal up to the path. "As they began to adjust the animal, they didn't feel it would stay intact," recounted parks maintenance and operations superintendent Deryk Roach. That, apparently, ended that.

Elder took matters into his own hands, literally. He posted to Front Porch Forum, asking for help. Eventually, Sean McDonough stepped forward. Last Friday, he and Elder used a tarp to drag the remains to the nearby bike path, where, they hoped, someone would pick it up.

Fish & Wildlife eventually came for the carcass. The department handles dead wildlife but not domesticated animals such as cows. Fortunately for Elder, he had misidentified the animal. Upon closer inspection, it was a deer, he said. Bleached white in places, it had some dark tufts of hair and, from a distance, resembled a Holstein.


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