Deer carcasses litter highways as removal duty changes

MADISON — Some vehicle-struck deer aren't getting removed from Wisconsin highways as quickly as they're being run down, as officials adjust to a new carcass pickup system, according to state officials.

A provision in the state budget transferred responsibility for picking up dead deer from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Transportation. The change took effect in September.

As mating season hits high gear among a swelling Wisconsin deer herd, there are an escalating number of road-kill carcasses.

"It's pretty much statewide that it's a problem," said Gary Wolf, state highway maintenance coordinator for Waukesha County.

Contracted vendors are supposed to remove deer carcasses within two business days of a report, and the system is working, Transportation spokeswoman Becky Kikkert said.

But some carcasses on Interstate 94 appear to have been there longer than two days, and some county officials said they weren't informed of the switch of responsibility for carcass removal from the DNR to the DOT, The Capital Times reported.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Capt. Jerry Haferman said dispatchers in that county were calling the wrong agency to report deer kills.

"Maybe signals were crossed someplace," he said.

Allison Bussler, Waukesha County's director of public works, called the transition "awkward."

"The DNR abruptly ended their contract without a lot of notice and it could have — of course in hindsight — gone a little smoother," she said. "But I think everybody's worked through that now."