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Deer carcasses pile up at Michaux State Forest

October 14, 2002

andrews@herald-mail.com

Deer carcasses and parts are piling up worse than usual at Michaux State Forest.

"It happens every year," said District Forester Mike Kusko, "but this past year, for whatever reason, there was an inordinate amount - into December and January."

Kusko thinks individual hunters have been dumping skins, rib cages and other leftover deer parts at the park, part of which is in Franklin County.

Wildlife and game officials in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania said dumping is an annual problem, but not to the extreme that Kusko described.

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"This (past) year, it just seemed like everywhere you went ... there was some. Usually, there are a few piles, but not like this," he said.

Kusko has a few theories.

One is that a change in Pennsylvania's deer season last year is partly responsible. Previously, there was always two weeks of buck hunting followed by three days of doe hunting. Last year, does were allowable targets during the two weeks, too.

Kusko said this may have led to a greater rush on hunting and subsequently a higher demand for processing. If the processors don't keep up, hunters may take care of their own kills and dump the leftover parts, Kusko suggested.

Also, processors' fees are rising, which might lead hunters to process their own deer, Kusko said.

Dumping is discouraged, but increased patrols or barriers or anything of the sort are unlikely.

"We don't do anything about it, quite frankly," Kusko said.

Except this: Volunteers helping to clean the forest use long pitchforks to push discarded deer parts away from places they can be smelled and seen.

"It just goes back to nature," he said.

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