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Isabella County Sheriff's Department begins annual roadkill removal


Two inmates drag a deer from the ditch to the trailer during Isabella County Sheriff's Department deer removal on April 13.

The Isabella County Sheriff's Department began its annual removal of roadkill deer this month.

During its first trip, the group removed 94 dead deer from the side of the road. Sheriff Michael Main said this year's had a steady number of deer-related accidents. The department consistently gets about 860 calls per year. 

"We have been getting four to five calls every 24 hours the last few days," Main said. 

The deer removal process was put into place 20 years ago by former Isabella County Sheriff Barry Delau. Nobody was taking action against the growing number of deer on the side of the roads. Main said the county now picks up more than 250 deer each year. 

Arica Rudoni, Isabella County Corrections officer has worked with the deer removal process for 11 years. Rudoni typically brings two inmates to pick up the deer with her. 

"We bring a couple of inmates who volunteer with the Village of Shepard on Monday through Friday," Rudoni said. 

Rudoni and the inmates drive around the entire county and remove dead deer from the roads and ditches. The deer are stacked into a trailer. Once the roadkill is removed, it is brought to a plot of land that the county owns. They are counted and buried at the plot of land.

Rudoni makes multiple trips to and back from the drop-off site. She said the trailer usually fills quickly. 

The process slows down after the first few weeks of spring, and moves to a periodic trip during the summer. 

Inmate Ryan Hughes plans on helping out for a majority of the upcoming clean-up trips. 

"This is good for the community," Hughes said. "You know some people don't like seeing the dead animals on the side of the road, so it saves them the hassle of seeing it or cleaning it up."

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a person is required to obtain a permit to possess wildlife after killed in a collision. However, the permit does not allow one to take every species of wildlife. Animals such as bears, wolves and deer fawns are not allowed to be salvaged.

Individuals can apply for a salvage permit on the Michigan DNR website or the Isabella County website.