Properly disposing bones and hides of harvested game takes a little planning

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Successful big game hunters are required to remove and care for all of the edible meat from the animals they kill, but what about the bones?

Over the past decade bones and hides, and sometimes partially processed big game carcasses have been dropped alongside roads and dumped into ditches.

It’s common practice in rural areas, but much of Kootenai County no longer bears the distinction.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game writer Phil Cooper offers some alternatives. Professional meat processors take care of the bones and hide for hunters, and anyone who cuts up their own meat can drop the leftovers at a transfer station, Cooper said.

Hunters are expected to take all the meat from hind quarters as far down as the hock, Copper said. Meat from the front quarters as far down as the knee, and meat along the backbone, must also be taken.

“There is also a lot of meat in the neck and covering the ribs that makes for good ground or stew meat,” Cooper said.

When hunters harvest a big game animal, they can take it to a meat processor or cut it on their own. Professional meat processors will cut, wrap, package and label the meat to be picked up. Some processors vacuum seal the packages for longer freezer life.

Another bonus is that the shop disposes of the leftovers. When hunters do the processing themselves, there is a pile of bones, a hide and a head that need to be disposed. If left out in the remote woods out of sight of people, these will be cleaned up by scavengers in short order.

If a remote wooded site is not an option, the transfer station will accept animal carcasses. Most counties in North Idaho have transfer stations. These facilities will accept the inedible parts of big game for no charge from residents who live within that county who pay the solid waste disposal fee. Inedible parts of big game animals can also be double-bagged, securely tied and put out to the curb for garbage collection, Cooper said.

“When disposing of deer parts, hunters are encouraged to consider the safety and health of others,” he said. “It only takes one improperly dumped and highly visible carcass to generate strong negative reactions.”

Unwanted big game carcasses that end up on the side of the road or in vacant lots become eyesores and public health issues. They can even become roadway hazards because they attract dogs and scavengers. Non-hunters who see these messes begin to have negative impressions of all hunters.

Every fall Idaho Fish and Game offices get called about “poached” animals along roadsides,” Cooper said. Most of the calls are a result of improperly discarded remains of legally harvested animals.

Dumping carcasses along roadsides is littering, according to Fish and Game.

“It is also inconsiderate of nearby residents and visitors,” Cooper said. “It reflects poorly on all hunters and damages the image of hunters among those people who do not hunt.”

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