05 September 2022

Alternatives to exploding a horse

The rationale for the illustrated procedure is explained at Neatorama and the embedded links there.  Many years ago I found a side-trail at the arboretum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where animal carcasses had been secured to the ground under wire mesh (to discourage carrion consumption by larger carnivores), so that students could monitor the breakdown of a turtle, rabbit, bird, and various other mammals.  Sadly, the site has not been refreshed with new dead critters.

I wonder if a similar procedure could be followed at a national park.  Haul the deer carcass away from the trail, put up an instructional sign, and let visitors (if they choose) see what happens in the natural world.


  1. In my nearby National Park (Lassen) I'd never seen more than five or six ravens in any one place. One evening, leaving the park on a remote road, I came across 50 or 60 ravens roosting in a dead tree. The only explanation I could figure is that they were gathered in anticipation of resumed feeding on a carcass the next day. Being a cliche raven lover, it was a memorable sight. I say leave the horse. Save the dynamite for blowing-up...other stuff.

  2. Since dead horses are often in areas where humans are likely to be, large dead animals attract bears. Not good for the bears or the humans.


    1. I'm trying to imagine a setting in any national park where the bear human interface would be significant enough to raise your concern, but also stand the test as a reasonable location for detonating 50 sticks of dynamite! Still pondering that one. I remember when Yosemite Valley was thick with bears. They owned the it! Since then, removing food sources changed things to where I spotted no bears in the Valley while working in the area for two years. I'll grant you that a carcass would attract scavengers. In a rare circumstance, I can see roping the area off from public access--obviously more so with brown bears than black. I also see a lot of overreaction in the parks. A great recent example was multi-month closure of back country trails (two-thirds of Lassen) due to a couple of black bear encounters. I gotta say I miss the "old guard" parks people. Far more common sense--even as they may have been responsible for this "recreation engineering" piece--or spoof? I wonder how many times a carcass was actually destroyed in this manner.


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