Dead Animal Disposal

Memo to EPD from EPD Director Richard Dunn and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams

Dated January 10, 2020

The Divisions of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources must coordinate with the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the successful supervision of disposal from deer processors, because that activity may implicate oversight by multiple agencies.

Disposal of carcasses and other remains by deer processors is governed by the Dead Animal Disposal Act, O.C.G.A. §§ 4-5-1 to 4-5-11 (the "Act"), which is enforced by the Department of Agriculture. Under the Act, "dead animals" must only be disposed of in a manner that is approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture. See O.C.G.A. §§ 4-5-2; 4-5-7(b); Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.01(1). The carcasses and other remains of deer are "dead animals" as defined in the Act and its related rules when they are processed by commercial facilities which process animals for human consumption. O.C.G.A.  § 4-5-2; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.01(1).

Although deer processors may not be required by the Department of Agriculture to obtain written approval or a certificate for their operations or disposal, they still must follow the Department of Agriculture's disposal rules. Compare Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.03 with Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.04. As further elaborated upon in the rules for the Act, permissible methods of disposal include burning, incineration, burial, rendering, or other methods approved by the Commissioner of Agriculture. See O.C.G.A. § 4-5-5; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5.

For deer processors who choose burial, the Act and rules include detailed specifications for the location where such burial may occur and for how the animals must be handled and covered. O.C.G.A. § 4-5-5; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.02; 40-13-5-.04(1). Further, animals may not be disposed of on the land of another person without the owner's permission. O.C.G.A. § 4-5-3(b); Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40- 13-5-.02. Provided that deer processors follow these requirements for burial, the animals would not be considered by the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources ("EPD") to be a solid waste and the disposal location would not be considered an unpermitted solid waste dump.

Two alternative methods of disposal that the Commissioner of Agriculture has approved are incineration and disposal of dead animals in a permitted solid waste landfill. Each of these methods implicates EPD oversight. Should deer processors choose incineration, the animals must be burned to ash in a manner that comports with all EPD and United States Environmental Protection Agency requirements. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.04(4). Dead animals disposed of by a deer processor in a landfill are considered solid waste by EPD and must be disposed of at an EPD-permitted landfill approved for the disposal of animals. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.04(2). If the landfill selected is a city or county landfill, arrangements must be made with a city or county official to do so. O.C.G.A. § 4-5-3(c). If you have questions regarding the location of the nearest permitted solid waste landfill, please contact EPD.

Deer processors that do not comply with approved disposal methods are subject to enforcement by the Department of Agriculture under the Act at O.C.G.A. § 4-5-11 and Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 40-13-5-.07, and may be subject to enforcement by EPD should any solid waste or incineration laws or rules be violated.

Please note, individual hunters disposing of deer do not fall under the Dead Animal Disposal Act. Deer carcasses generated outside of deer processing facilities must be disposed of in accordance with O.C.G.A. Title 27 and any applicable local law.