Old bridge site used as carcass dump

Published 7:13 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Downtown Smithfield is known for its scenic views, but those who wander down to the creek on the east side of the Cypress Creek Bridge during hunting season may be in for a surprise. 

For the past two years, at least, someone has been dumping deer carcasses alongside the old section of bridge on South Church Street.

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“It’s like a graveyard for deer,” said nearby resident Jim Groves. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The remains not only attract buzzards, but dogs can also get into it and besides that, it smells, said Groves

Groves has reported the dumping to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and they are looking into it, said Sgt. Brandon Woodruff, who oversees Isle of Wight County. 

Dumping deer carcasses on someone else’s land without permission is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to Sgt. Paul Atkins, a conservation officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 

Woodruff said hunt clubs generally have a method of disposing of carcasses, such as a pit, but sometimes a hunter may want to skirt club rules for one reason or another.

Woodruff said some clubs have rules concerning the size of a kill, and if the deer is too small, there is a fine imposed. In that case, a hunter may not take it back to the club to process the meat. 

In other cases, a hunt club has a rule about the hunter getting first choice of the meat, but then others in club get a piece too, and that may prevent them bringing it back to the club to process, said Woodruff. 

And sometimes, a hunter is simply working alone, he said.

Woodruff said his office gets numerous dumping complaints in Isle of Wight County, with the one in Smithfield, as well as a site at Woodland Drive and Quaker Road, being popular. 

Sites near bridges are also favored, as they typically have a deep drop off where it is easy to dump the carcass, said Woodruff. 

Woodruff said another problem is that landfills won’t take dead animals, so disposal is an issue. 

Atkins said it’s not illegal to leave the remains in the woods, as long as it’s not someone else’s property or the hunter has permission. 

In that case, nature takes its course with the help of buzzards, coyotes and other critters, said Atkins. 

If the coyotes are busy with the deer, then they’re less inclined to go after cats and dogs, joked Atkins. 

Woodruff thinks it would be easier if landfills and convenience centers had a place set aside for the lawful disposal of deer carcasses. 

In the case of the dumping in Smithfield, it tends to occur between Thanksgiving and Christmas, said Groves. 

So far this year, there have been three carcasses dumped, he said. 

Groves said he’s also bothered by the fact that meat is being left on the deer. 

It’s an eyesore that is only slightly improved after the buzzards do their work, he said.  {/mprestriction}