Sioux Falls is creating space in its landfill for deer and elk carcasses a week after a federal agency ruling that prevents rendering companies from collecting the remains.
“Four thousand carcasses are waiting to be disposed of,” Lyle Johnson, the city’s public works director, informed City Council members Monday.
Last Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration prohibited rendering companies from using material from elk and deer in animal feed if they are either infected with chronic wasting disease or considered high risk.
One case of CWD has been confirmed in South Dakota since 1997 among 1,693 deer and elk heads collected by the Department of Game, Fish and Parks. That was a white-tailed deer in Fall River County in the western part of the state.
Rendering companies traditionally collect carcasses from meat lockers and some hunters. The FDA ruling means carcasses will be taken to landfills and incinerating companies instead.
Johnson told City Council members that one area of the landfill will be dedicated to the carcasses so any leaching could be contained.
On Wednesday, the City Council is holding a special meeting at 5 p.m. to discuss potential regulations and perhaps to have a first reading on a new ordinance. It then could have the second reading and approve or reject the new ordinance at its meeting next Monday.
“We’ll have a safe way of dealing with them,” Johnson said of the carcasses. “I’m just afraid there will be a mad rush to bring them in.”
Johnson said the City Council could consider charging $2,000 per ton for out-of-state deer and elk carcasses to make it cost-prohibitive for people to bring them to Sioux Falls from neighboring states. That charge is far above his proposed fee of $50 per ton or $5 per deer carcass for in-state clients.
City Attorney Janet Brekke said the city can’t ban out-of-state dumping at the landfill without violating interstate commerce regulations.
Klarenbeek & Dakota Rendering of Luverne, Minn., which serves southwestern Minnesota and a large part of eastern South Dakota, notified 19 meat locker plants last week that it would no longer collect deer and elk carcasses.
“The locker plants have to find their way of taking care of it,” Joanne Klarenbeek said. “We were notified last Tuesday, and it was effective immediately.”
One of Klarenbeek’s customers is Western Meat Locker of Sioux Falls. Since the change, the locker now places deer carcasses in a Dumpster, and its garbage hauler transports them to the Sioux Falls Landfill. Western Meat Locker owner Mike DeJonge said he has to keep the deer carcasses separate from hog and beef carcasses.
“It’s an extra hassle,” DeJonge said. “And there’s an extra fee.”
The deer carcasses probably are less cause for concern than many other items collected at the landfill, DeJonge said.
The FDA ruling reduces revenue for rendering companies because they get paid by the pound. Klarenbeek & Dakota sells its collections to Darling International of Sioux City, which processes it.
Chronic wasting disease is a contagious, fatal brain disorder that has infected substantial numbers of elk and deer in other states. It affects them much the same way mad cow disease affects cattle.
CWD isn’t thought to be transmissible to humans or domestic livestock. But wildlife officials worry about the effects it could have on wild deer and elk herds.