BERWICK - By default, South Nation Conservation is now removing dead animals from the South Nation River and its tributaries because no one else is doing it.
Through deadstock removal is a practice that falls into SNC's duties as guardians of the watershed, the downloaded activity is becoming time consuming and costly, said SNC works superintendent Roy Steele.
"There's no money allocated in the annual budget for this activity," he said. "Such calls happen frequently, and we'll soon not be able to afford to send staff out, unless we receive outside financial help."
For example, it recently took an SNC crew 22 hours to retrieve three cows. Steele estimates the total cost of these retrievals at $800 for staff time, equipment use, transportation, and carcass disposal fees paid to Machabee Animal Food Ltd.
He projects the annual cost for deadstock removal can easily reach $8,000 to $10,000.
Steele pointed out that cattle identification tags had been removed from the cows, indicating they didn't die accidentally. He believes the bodies had been dumped into the watercourse as an easy, cost free means of getting rid of them.
Steele said SNC makes every effort possible to remove dead animals because of its mandate to protect water quality and ensure that communities processing drinking water from the river receive the best.
"In addition to carcasses, every year we retrieve dead trees, steel drums, tires, and various garbage with the potential to block streams and lower quality. It's difficult to pinpoint where the debris comes from, but it effects many residents in our watershed."