A plan to dispose of deer carcasses during Minnesota’s upcoming rifle hunting season is unraveling over a waste hauler’s fears of spreading chronic wasting disease.
The state placed special dumpsters in parts of central and southeastern Minnesota where the fatal deer brain disease has been found. The plan was to use the containers to safely dispose of potentially infected deer carcasses.
But Waste Management will not accept deer carcasses infected with chronic wasting or that have the potential of being infected. With Minnesota’s rifle season about to start, officials worry hunters will toss bones onto the land where the disease can spread to other deer.
Officials of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources told state lawmakers Tuesday that Waste Management does not want to be held liable if the infectious material that causes chronic wasting spreads into the wild, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
“As of yesterday, they informed us that they would no longer be willing to handle this waste stream for us,” DNR wildlife manager Bryan Lueth told a joint meeting of the Minnesota House and Senate Environment committees. “So we’re pretty much left to scramble.”
Waste Management spokeswoman Julie Ketchum told The Associated Press that the waste disposal company will handle any deer carcasses already in the dumpsters. But Waste Management is concerned about the prions, a misshaped protein that causes the disease in deer and elk and remains infectious in the environment for years, Ketchum said.