Discarded animal carcasses on rise in York County

jzou@heraldonline.comNovember 5, 2013 

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    Contact the York Sheriff’s Office Code Enforcement Unit at 803-628-3056 to report an illegal dump site, or for information on any incidents related to illegal dumping.

— Officers from the York County Sheriff’s Office are trying to zero in on illegal dumpers who have been littering a York County road with deer carcasses, cow bones and other trash.

Stretches of Benfield Road, wedged between McFarland and Park Place roads, have recently become a hot spot with hunters looking to dump carcasses from recent kills, authorities say.

“It’s like a Whac-A-Mole game,” said Master Deputy Joe Bennett, who works in code enforcement, which investigates environmental crimes such as littering. Bennett said that the carcasses invite other illegal dumping into the area.

Sgt. Broadus Strain, who heads the unit, filed reports on illegal dumping on the road three times this month. On each occasion, officers were unable to track down witnesses.

Earlier in the month, Strain found bags of cow bones and other remnants of carcasses scattered on the road. He discovered three deer carcasses, some skinned and with shots through them, just in the last week. Officers recently set up surveillance in the area, according to the reports.

Bennett said officers are taking additional steps to track down the dumpers, but didn’t provide further details. Police have also been working with the state’s Department of Natural Resources to pin down suspects.

“Doing this stuff puts such a bad impression on hunters,” said Mark Ferrell, a local Department of Natural Resources game warden. Ferrell said that hunters are supposed to bury carcasses in a pit or dispose of them properly at landfills that accept remains.

He said enforcement is extremely difficult because dumping often occurs in areas with low traffic overnight. “They know they have a good chance of getting away with stuff like that,” Ferrell said.

His office receives calls about illegally dumped carcasses throughout the year, but the volume spikes dramatically during the fall hunting season.

Bennett agreed that prosecuting dumping is difficult because officers are rarely able to get eyewitnesses. Instead, officers usually must sort through the trash themselves in the hopes of gaining clues.

Violators can face fines or other punishments such as jail time.

But Bennett said the unit is trying to ramp up its investigation of sites such as Benfield Road, to deter would-be dumpers throughout the county. Officers have located other problematic sites along county and state borders.

“We’re trying to change not only the public’s view, but law enforcement's view on litter,” he said.

Jie Jenny Zou •  803-329-4062

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