At this time of year, vehicle vs. deer collisions are common due to increased rut and hunting activity.
What happens afterward is a story of renewal involving wood chips and horse manure, and state workers, such as Tyrone Henderson, with cast-iron constitutions.
Every day, Henderson hoists himself into a massive yellow dump truck and checks his list before rolling out of the State Highway Administration’s garage in Sykesville. He is a man on a mission; or, as he likes to say, it’s “time to find the stinkies.”
This is the busiest time of the year for the crews who remove wildlife carcasses — especially those of deer — from the state’s roads.
“During hunting season and the rut, it’s nothing to pick up 18 deer in a day,” said John Groomes, Henderson’s boss at the Carroll County facility.
“Years ago, we used to dig a hole roadside and bury them,” Groomes said. “But with all the utilities underground these days and all the development, you can’t do that.”
A decade ago, SHA maintenance engineer Jim Jones came up with a formula to turn deer into compost. His process has proved so popular that the Gaithersburg SHA garage in Poolesville is working with Montgomery County to construct a deer-composting facility similar to the one in Sykesville.